Ms Poh Li San: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) how will the UN High Seas Treaty affect Singapore’s plans on maritime conservation; and (b) how will it impact Singapore’s plans to build polders or other mitigation against rising sea levels as well as the Greater Southern Waterfront Gateway development.
1 Madam, the adoption of the BBNJ Agreement – which stands for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction – also known colloquially as the High Seas Treaty, is a victory for the management of the global commons. As Minister Vivian Balakrishnan mentioned in his statement at the UN following the adoption of the Treaty, Singapore will sign the Agreement when it opens for signature on the 20th of September 2023, and we intend to ratify it as soon as possible. This, along with our deep involvement in the BBNJ process, reflects Singapore’s commitment to conserve and sustainably use the oceans and their biodiversity.
2 The Treaty governs areas in the high seas and deep seabed, in other words, the waters and the seabed beyond the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelves of countries, and is beyond the jurisdiction of any country. While the Treaty will not directly affect marine conservation efforts within Singapore’s jurisdiction, it will allow us to play a more active role in global efforts to protect the marine environment in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
3 For example, the Treaty provides for a more equitable sharing of the benefits arising from marine scientific research in these areas. Through the Treaty, our scientists and researchers will share information and marine samples with other parties, and the scientists and researchers of other parties will do likewise with us. This can help to contribute to global conservation efforts. The more we understand about marine biodiversity in the high seas and deep seabed, the better we will be able to protect it. Singapore will also support capacity building measures for developing countries to effectively implement the Treaty, by sharing our experiences through platforms such as the Singapore Cooperation Programme.
4 As the Treaty concerns areas beyond national jurisdiction, it will have no bearing on Singapore’s measures to mitigate sea-level rise, use of polders, and our plans for the Greater Southern Waterfront Gateway development, which are well within Singapore’s territorial waters.
Ms Poh Li San: Thank you SMS for your clarifications. I will have one more SQ. Singapore is one of the biggest maritime ports in the world, will the BBNJ have any effect on our sea lines of communication? Thank you.
Madam, we do not expect the BBNJ to impact our sea lines of communication.
Mr Louis Ng: Thank you Madam, and I thank SMS for the reply and Singapore’s strong commitment to marine conservation. Could I also ask whether MFA is equally supportive of the global treaty to end plastic pollution and how is Singapore contributing to that as well?
Madam, I would ask Mr Louis Ng to file another question on this. They are two different matters.
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MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
4 JULY 2023