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The ‘Ice in the Tropics’ seminar brought melting ice caps in the Arctic closer to Singapore

November 13, 2017

The ‘Ice in the Tropics’ seminar, organized by The Embassy of Finland, the High Commission of Canada and the Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was held at the National Museum of Singapore and saw expert speakers from Canada, Finland and Singapore joining together to discuss the climate change in the Arctic, and its impact on the environment and economy. The climate change in the Arctic, which implies the melting of glaciers and the opening of new sea routes, has significant implications for Singapore, which is a low-lying island and the second largest international seaport.


Changes in shipping routes and rising levels bring opportunities and threats to Singapore

 Picture: Lynn McDonald, High Commissioner of Canada to Singapore with Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore discussing why climate change in the Arctic matters to Singapore.


As Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out in his welcoming remarks, the melting ice in the Arctic and opening of the year round accessible northern sea route could change the current shipping routes and affect Singapore’s ranking as the second largest international port.


Mr Koh also raised the issue of rising sea level and its threats to Singapore, which is a low-lying island. As Dr. Keven Roy highlighted in his speech, equatorial regions like Singapore, are at significant risk, when by 2100 the sea level could be expected to rise up to 130 cm from its current level.


Meteorological cooperation and education in focus under Finland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council

Picture: Aleksi Härkönen and Juhani Damski presented at the Arctic seminar


The seminar saw two Finnish guest speakers: Juhani Damski, Director General from Finnish Meteorological Institute and Aleksi Härkönen, Ambassador and Senior Arctic Official of Finland.


In his speech Damski explained the importance of meteorological cooperation between all the stakeholders. Developing meteorological strategic infrastructures is one of the key priorities of Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017-2019. This cooperation is a key to improved services, increased safety and sustained environment.


- “The plan is to explore common solutions, as we are all interested stakeholders in preventing the rapid ice melting in the Arctic. Either we all win or we all lose”, Mr Damski stated.


Fair educational opportunities in remote areas was at the center of Mr Härkönen’s speech. Education is the key for creating sustainable development and building resilience in the Arctic communities. As Mr Härkönen explained:


- “Equal access to good basic education opens the doors to learning trades, to higher education, and to finding a place in working life. It also lessens the risk of marginalization with the associated unfortunate consequences. Digitalization is in the center of building better education systems.”

 Picture: Minister of State Sam Tan opening the Arctic photography exhibition.


A joint photography exhibit with pictures from the Arctic by talented Singaporean conservation photographer Michael Aw and from northern Finland by award-winning photographer Martti Rikkonen was officially opened at the end of the seminar. Breathtaking pictures are nevertheless a reminder of the fragility of the nature in the Arctic region.  


More information:


See more pictures from the seminar here


Ice in the Tropics events run until December 3rd, 2017. Find more information here: https://www.iceinthetropics.com/


Read more about Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017–2019 here.


Watch a video presenting Finland’s priorities during the chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2017-2019): Exploring Common Solutions.

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