VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said the fight against COVID-19 is far from over, emphasizing that expanding access to vaccines by scaling up production and distribution must be the immediate priority. Pledging that Singapore will continue to support the COVAX facility and donate vaccines to other countries with greater needs, he said that in the longer term, Member States must address major gaps in pandemic preparedness, strengthen multilateral support for the United Nations and WHO, and mobilize resources for collective security “because no one is safe until everyone is safe”.
For small island nations like Singapore, climate change is a clear and present danger, he noted. “No country acting alone can move the needle,” he said, adding that by working together, the international community can make a substantial impact. Outlining the steps Singapore is taking, he said they include planting 1 million trees, expanding the use of solar energy and reducing the waste sent to landfills. Noting that the fortieth anniversary of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea will be an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of Member States to that instrument, he said Singapore also looks forward to the next round of negotiations on a treaty on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions and to the second Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
He said the pandemic has accelerated the pace and scale of the digital revolution, he said, empowering millions but also widening the gap between digital haves and have-nots. Digital transformation should be about sustainable development, but without closing the digital divide, the Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved, he warned. Clearly, the international community must discuss a global framework for digital transformation, he stressed, saying the conversation can focus on the Secretary-General’s proposal for a Global Digital Compact, a United Nations convention on digital transformation or a framework of norms and principles.
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