Cooperation and collaboration between economies in the Asia-Pacific are key to tackling challenges like climate change and natural disasters, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Mohamad Maliki Osman said yesterday.
Dr Maliki was speaking at the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) ministerial meeting that ended yesterday, and told fellow ministers that no economy can build up sufficient capacity to cater for all extreme events alone.
When disaster strikes, the surge in demand for relief can be so high that victims in affected places will benefit from extra resources and external support, he said.
The meeting precedes the Apec economic leaders' meeting, which begins today and which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will attend.
Nearly half of the world's natural disasters happen in the Asia-Pacific region, and ministers from 21 Apec member economies yesterday issued a joint statement endorsing a disaster risk reduction framework that aims to help the grouping strengthen early warning systems, build search and rescue capabilities and recover from disasters.
Singapore supported the framework, Dr Maliki said, adding that it can help rally support for a concerted, sustainable solution to recurrent man-made problems, like transboundary haze.
One recent example of such cooperation took place last month, when several countries offered help to put out forest fires in Indonesia that were causing thick haze over large parts of South-east Asia.
"Singapore has enacted domestic legislation to take legal action against those responsible for the haze, but closer cross-border collaboration and policy coordination are needed to tackle such transboundary environmental threats more effectively," he added.
Cooperation is also crucial to tackle climate change and related issues, like food security, he said.
He cited how a confluence of unfavourable environmental and weather conditions in recent years saw plankton blooms and loss of fish stock at some Singapore farms.
Dr Maliki also said reducing food waste, supporting a rules-based multilateral trading system that does not allow export bans and promoting food safety could help bring improve food security.
Ways to counter terror financing and foreign fighter travel were also discussed. Ministers condemned last Friday's attacks in Paris, offering sympathies and calling for cooperation in tackling terrorism, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters.
Dr Maliki called for those responsible to be brought to justice. He also discussed the fight against terror, issues related to the South China Sea and the recently concluded Trans Pacific Partnership with United States Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Dr Maliki also met Mr del Rosario, Brunei Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Lim Jock Seng, Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and Chile Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz Valenzuela.