Singapore and China discuss environmental cooperation on Masagos visit to Beijing

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli wrapped up a three-day visit to Beijing that ended on May 3. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/MASAGOS ZULKIFLI

SINGAPORE - Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli has met his Chinese counterparts to discuss ways the two countries can work together to strengthen cooperation on environmental protection and collaborate through bilateral platforms.

Writing on his Facebook page on Friday (May 4), Mr Masagos said he had wrapped up a three-day visit to Beijing, which saw him meeting China's Minister of Ecology and Environment Li Ganjie.

At their meeting on Thursday, both countries agreed to deepen collaboration on climate action, sustainable development and greening up China's Belt and Road Initiative.

"Singapore and China have a longstanding and forward-looking partnership that progresses with the times. Despite the different paths in our development journey, we share many common challenges such as climate change, and balancing our economic development with protecting our environment," he wrote.

The two countries also agreed to enhance their partnership in areas such as environmental research and development, environmental governance and the circular economy model - in which materials are re-used as much as possible to ensure long-term sustainability.

Mr Masagos noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping had made it a priority for China to become an "ecological civilisation" to ensure the country is more sustainable and greener, adding that there were many lessons that Singapore could learn from China's efforts.

At the meeting, Mr Li emphasised that the Chinese government's goal was to "win the battle on pollution" by 2020, focusing on the three key areas of safeguarding blue skies, clean water and soil, the China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a post on WeChat.

The two countries also discussed combating climate change and agreed to work together to advance negotiations on the implementation of the Paris Agreement in what would be a critical year for the United Nations climate talks.

Mr Masagos also met China's Minister of Water Resources E Jingping to discuss the water challenges and priorities of both countries. "Although Singapore and China have vast differences in terms of size, we share similar challenges of ensuring water security and the effects of climate change on our water supply," Mr Masagos wrote on Facebook on Thursday following their meeting.

"There is strong potential for cooperation in promoting sound water governance and new ways to produce water that is weather-resilient and energy-efficient," he said.

Mr Masagos also held talks with China's Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Wang Menghui to discuss waste management issues as well as Mr Gao Hucheng, the Chairman of the National People's Congress Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee, to exchange views on legislative initiatives for environmental protection.

As part of his trip, Mr Masagos visited the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC), an environmentally friendly city in the Chinese port city of Tianjin which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year. The SSTEC is a joint venture between a Singapore consortium led by the Keppel Group and a Chinese consortium led by Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding.

Mr Masagos also went to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, which he noted was at the forefront of using state-of-the-art technologies to monitor and respond to pollution.

Through both visits, he said he saw "how long-term planning, innovation and use of technology can help us overcome environmental challenges, and how it will transform the way we live and work."

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