“A new world order is being born and … the moment of delivery is actually the most dangerous. So, will we have a more divided, less prosperous and less peaceful world?
“Or instead, can we strengthen multilateralism and the UN to deal with the challenges of the future, to uphold and to strengthen the rules-based international system, and to jointly harness the opportunities offered by new technologies – including digital technology, synthetic biology and customised healthcare, and of course renewable energy?
“If we can do this, we can then create a new era of peace and prosperity for everyone.”
He highlighted three areas where there is an urgent need to build resilience.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOOD INSECURITY
One is climate change, which remains “the most pressing challenge confronting humanity today”, said Dr Balakrishnan.
“We need a sustained and ambitious global response. Continued commitment by all countries to the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Climate Pact – that’s absolutely critical. We also need to step up cooperation in the transition to net zero.”
This will require considerable economic restructuring, technological breakthroughs, investments and behavioural changes, with the UN-led multilateral system key in pulling everyone together to move in the same direction without leaving any behind, he said.
He highlighted Singapore’s moves to raise climate ambition to achieve net-zero emissions “by or around mid-century” and progressively raise carbon taxes, which were announced at Budget 2022.
A related issue is food security, the threat to which has been exacerbated by climate change, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, he said. The minister cited a UN report stating that 828 million people were affected by hunger last year – 46 million more than in 2020 and 150 million more than in 2019.
“We must reverse this negative trend. First, we need to ensure that food supply chains remain open and operate smoothly.
“Second, we must pursue innovation and leverage technology to adapt to new challenges. For example, working together to develop climate-resilient food systems, whilst developing the necessary precautions for food safety.”