The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a reception to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), Singapore’s flagship platform for technical cooperation with developing countries.
The SCP has been an important platform to enhance capacity-building and exchange development experiences over the last three decades. Close to 150,000 foreign officials have participated in SCP courses, including 88,000 from ASEAN member states since 1992.
At the reception, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan launched the Sustainability Action Package (SAP) to support the capacity-building needs of developing countries on sustainability and climate change. The SAP will run from 2023 to 2026. The transcript of Minister Balakrishnan’s remarks and a factsheet on the SCP and SAP are appended.
The reception was attended by the diplomatic corps, training partners and agencies, as well as SCP participants.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
25 OCTOBER 2022
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TRANSCRIPT OF MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN’S OPENING REMARKS AT THE SCP30 COMMEMORATIVE RECEPTION, 25 OCTOBER 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen
In case you have not noticed, this is actually our first mass, in-person congregation since COVID-19 emerged. It is a special occasion. It is all the more special because we are here to commemorate and to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). This is a key milestone for the programme, which is Singapore’s primary platform for technical cooperation with developing countries.
Let me first try to explain why the SCP has a special place in our hearts. In the past 57 years of Singapore’s independence, we have traversed a long and eventful, and in fact successful, journey which probably exceeded the expectations both of ourselves and perhaps for others who looked upon Singapore back in 1965. One key point is that we have not forgotten the generosity and support of our international partners and friends who played a vital role in supporting Singapore, especially during our formative years. In 1960, a UNDP (United Nations Delegation Programme) delegation led by Dr Albert Winsemius first came to take a look at Singapore. I suspect he also came to get a feel for the leaders of Singapore at that point in time. He assisted us in developing an economic plan. Dr Winsemius eventually became far more than a consultant, but a stalwart friend and partner of our founding leaders. He later became the chief economic adviser to the Singapore Government. Just as we had that wonderful relationship and partnership with Dr Winsemius, we are also grateful to have received technical assistance in almost every sector, including (from) experts and trainers from the United Nations’ (UN) specialised agencies, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and other countries.
We established the SCP in 1992, 30 years ago, as a way for us to give back – or perhaps another way of looking at it is to pay (it) forward – to the international community for the assistance that we received in our early years. The SCP has quite rightly focused on enhancing capacity-building in our fellow developing countries, in particular through human resource development. We hope that by sharing our journey, our partners from around the world can learn from our experiences, both good and tough, which they can adapt to their own circumstances in order to make a positive impact to the lives of their own people.
The world today is confronted by an almost perfect storm of multiple overlapping, mutually synchronised, and even a vicious cycle of urgent challenges that range the gamut, from global health and infectious diseases to climate change, rising sea levels, the disruption caused by digital technologies and of course, the geostrategic picture with contestation, rivalry, and even war in some parts of our world.
Now, more than ever, we need global solidarity, we need international cooperation if we are to rise to the challenges of our time, in particular in dealing with the global commons. In her message just now, you heard the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who very aptly touched on how deeper cooperation amongst countries is crucial for our collective recovery from the current set of crises. Singapore’s survival is intrinsically linked to global peace and stability. The SCP underscores our belief that international cooperation is not a zero-sum game, but mutually beneficial. When our region is peaceful, prosperous, and collectively committed to a sustainable future, we will also create social and economic opportunities for all our people. By working collectively, we strengthen our ability to deal with the immense shared challenges of the future. None of us can address these successfully alone.
COVID-19 also reminded us that none of us are safe, until all of us are safe. Through the SCP, we have forged many friendships across the world and in our own small way, contributed as a responsible and constructive member of the international community. I am glad that over the last three decades, close to 150,000 foreign officials have participated in a variety of SCP courses, including 88,000 from our ASEAN partner member states. I am heartened to hear the ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi in his affirmation of the SCP’s contribution to capacity building within ASEAN itself. More than 100,000 officials have participated in SCP courses held in Singapore, while others have also attended SCP courses in other parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.
Climate change is a clear and pressing priority for all of us, especially for a low-lying city island state like ours. It is an existential issue. It requires collective global action. Singapore firmly believes that multilateral cooperation to tackle the problems of the global commons is absolutely essential. It should not surprise you, therefore, that we are strong supporters of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Glasgow Climate Pact. Personally, it is one of the highlights of my career to have spent years on the negotiating circuit that led up to the Paris Agreement. You should not be surprised, therefore, to know that Singapore is totally committed to do our part at the United Nations Climate Change Conference talks and at COP-27 in Sharm el-Sheikh next month. Earlier this morning, you may have heard Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong, who announced that we will enhance our 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We aim to peak our emissions earlier, and we will cut our CO2 emissions from 65 million tonnes to 60 million tonnes in 2030. This, I believe, will put us in very good stead to achieve our longer-term goal of getting to net zero by 2050.
It is against this backdrop that the SCP will give greater focus to the global sustainability agenda. I am pleased, therefore, to announce the launch of a new Sustainability Action Package (SAP). This package will support capacity building for developing countries, focused on sustainability and climate change. The package aims to help countries decarbonise and will include key areas on sustainability, including strategies to build resilience for water resources and food security, managing and financing green projects, developing sustainable infrastructure, and managing carbon markets. It will also sponsor longer-term advisory projects in Southeast Asia to deepen our capabilities on sustainability in our region. We welcome partners to contribute knowledge; to bring in your networks with international organisations and other Third Countries to partner us in implementing the SAP.
Let me conclude by acknowledging the contributions and hard work of the people who have made the SCP a success. To all our Singapore agencies and training partners who deftly pivoted to virtual programmes during the recent COVID-19 pandemic; to all our foreign partners who have been instrumental in the organisation of our programmes, including within your own countries; to past and present staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) Technical Cooperation Directorate, as well as our colleagues in the Missions abroad, who have worked so closely with foreign partners to maintain our relationships with our alumni. To our SCP participants, past, present and future – I hope you understand that you are lifelong friends, and that you will take the knowledge, experiences and network of relationships back home with you, even as you tackle your challenges in the present and in the future.
Since this is the 30th year, I should also acknowledge the presence of Mr Peter Chan, who was our Permanent Secretary 30 years ago when we launched this programme. Peter, in his usual humble way, has also credited Simon Tay for being the external instigator and “nagger” who persuaded him and the management 30 years ago.
My friends, this is an occasion to celebrate, an occasion to renew friendships, and a reminder to all of us that by paying it forward (and) working collectively together, we can make a difference, we can overcome the challenges of the present and arrive ultimately, at an even better world for all of us. Thank you all very much for joining us.
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FACTSHEET ON THE SINGAPORE COOPERATION PROGRAMME (SCP) AND THE SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PACKAGE (SAP)
Established in 1992, the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) is Singapore’s flagship platform for extending technical assistance to fellow developing countries.
2 The SCP was founded on the belief that human resource development is key to nation-building. It focuses on capacity-building while encouraging developing countries to share their development experiences and learn from one another.
3 The SCP has hosted close to 150,000 officials from more than 180 countries and territories as well as international and regional organisations. SCP works with more than 50 local and international partners to conduct over 300 programmes yearly. Since 2015, all SCP programmes are aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which serve as a useful road map for countries in their development journey.
4 To mark the SCP’s 30th anniversary, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan launched the Sustainability Action Package (SAP) on 25 October 2022. The SAP aims to support the capacity-building needs of developing countries on sustainability and climate change. It builds on the Climate Action Package (CAP) and will have a broader focus on sustainability. The CAP was established in 2018 and will conclude in March 2023.
5 The SAP, which will run for three years (2023 – 2026), comprises capacity-building programmes that cover a wide range of sustainability themes such as adaptation and resilience-building strategies, green project management and financing, low carbon development and carbon markets. The programmes will bring together diverse knowledge partners from the public and private sectors, and non-profit and international organisations to share best practices on tackling sustainability and climate issues.
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Photo Caption: Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan delivering remarks at a reception to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Cooperation Programme, 25 October 2022
Photo Caption: Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan commemorating a toast to the Singapore Cooperation Programme with Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sim Ann, Former Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs) Peter Chan and Ambassador-At-Large Professor Tommy Koh, 25 October 2022
Photo Caption: Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sim Ann interacting with Singapore Cooperation Programme participants at the SCP30 exhibition, 25 October 2022
Photo Credits: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore