Singapore’s Special Envoy for Arctic Affairs, Mr Sam Tan, delivered the closing remarks at the Russia-Singapore Arctic Dialogue held on 17 December 2021

Special Envoy for Arctic Affairs Sam Tan delivering the closing remarks for the Russia-Singapore Arctic Dialogue 
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore

THE dialogue, held in hybrid format and titled “The Arctic as a Global Transport Corridor: Sustainable Arctic Shipping”, is jointly organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and the Moscow School of Management (SKOLKOVO), with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore. With the increasing importance of sustainable development in the Arctic, and the Arctic emerging as a global transport corridor, the webinar focused on topics such as technology and innovation for sustainable Arctic shipping, economic development, and potential cooperation between Russian and Singaporean companies and research institutes in sustainable Arctic shipping projects.  

In his closing remarks, Special Envoy Tan stressed the importance of driving the economic development of the Arctic while putting in place sustainable solutions in the context of climate challenges, such as through the development of technology and innovation for sustainable shipping. He also welcomed and expressed Singapore’s support for the Russian Arctic Council Chairmanship’s focus of a “Responsible Governance for Sustainable Arctic”, which is relevant not just to the Arctic, but also globally, especially as the world takes steps to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a low-lying coastal state, Singapore is vulnerable to rising sea levels. The Arctic is a barometer of climate change, and it is in Singapore’s interest to work closely with our international partners to find ways to mitigate its adverse effects. We do so by participating in international Arctic events, raising regional awareness of Arctic issues, and contributing to discussions at the Arctic Council, the leading intergovernmental forum for discussing political, economic, environmental and scientific issues concerning the governments and inhabitants of the Arctic region. 



Ambassador Korchunov, Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman, RSIS, Mr. Andrey Sharonov, President of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, Distinguished panelists, Ladies and gentlemen

 1. I would like to extend my thanks to the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO for co-organising this webinar, and also to the panelists for the excellent and engaging discussions. Even though Singapore is situated close to 12,000 km away from the Arctic, the effects of climate change there, in particular the melting of polar ice-caps, pose a threat not just to the immediate surrounding region, but to low lying islands such as Singapore. As a small maritime nation situated at one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, Singapore is keeping a close watch on the possibilities and opportunities that the opening of the Northern Sea Route presents for international shipping. 

2. In 2016, I had the privilege to sail from Anadyr to Pevekon Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreaker “50 Years of Victory”, then the world’s largest but now surpassed by its own Arktika. It allowed me to witness first-hand the rapid development and the opportunities in the Russian Arctic. The opening of new Arctic water channels, such as the Northern Sea Route, could significantly reduce shipping travel time between Asia and Europe, and potentially boost the maritime industry, although the full cost of commercial transportation in the new shipping lanes is still not fully known. A new shipping route could also complement Singapore, which has one of the world’s busiest ports, receiving about 120,000 vessels each year. This translates to 300 ships every day and 12 ships every hour. As a seafaring nation, our marine industry has developed decades of experience and strong credentials in shipbuilding and repair, offshore engineering, port operation and marine support services. Singapore can further contribute to the development of maritime infrastructure to help facilitate safe shipping in the Arctic region. In fact, several shipping companies from Singapore such as Keppel Offshore & Marine develop icebreakers and offshore rigs that operate in the Arctic, while ST Marine and SembCorp have the required competency to construct ice-class vessels. Keppel was also the very first Asian shipyard to build icebreakers. 

Special Envoy Sam Tan interacting with panelists and participants of the Russia-Singapore Arctic Dialogue

3. As mentioned by distinguished panelists, the economic development of the Arctic must go hand in hand with sustainable solutions in the context of climate challenges, as well as the development of technology and innovation for sustainable shipping. Sustainable development is one important area that requires collaboration from all stakeholders, which we have emphasized in the recently launched Singapore Green Plan 2030. In this regard, Singapore welcomes and fully supports the Russian Arctic Council Chairmanship’s theme of a “Responsible Governance for Sustainable Arctic”. The key areas of focus –people, environmental protection, and socioeconomic development – are important not just to the Arctic, but also globally, especially as we take steps to emerge from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Singapore looks forward to closely working with the Russian Chair to contribute meaningfully to the work of the Council, including supporting the work of sustainable development of the Arctic and environmental issues such as marine litter and green shipping.

5. Thank you for your kind attention.

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