Ms Lee is also the chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

In March 2023, Ms Lee presided over the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). 

She successfully concluded negotiations on a new global agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.   

The decision was reached after nearly 36 hours of nonstop negotiations.

When the deal was struck, Ms Lee declared: “The ship has reached the shore,” which was met with thunderous applause and cheers in the room.

The landmark agreement was a culmination of discussions that began in 2004 under the auspices of the United Nations to enhance the international legal regime for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in oceans beyond nations’ exclusive economic zones and continental shelves.

Despite being extremely biodiverse, only 1 per cent of the high seas is currently regulated. 

“The BBNJ Agreement is therefore a major step forward in contributing to the governance of the global commons,” said MFA in a statement in 2023. 

TODAY has reached out to MFA and Ms Lee for comment. 

Time’s annual Time 100 list started in 1999 as a result of a debate among American academics, politicians, and journalists. 

The final list is chosen by Time editors who “spend months discussing” those they “believe most changed the stories that define the past year”.

“Influence, we know, is complex: it can be for better and for worse, it can span generations, categories, and perspectives,” said editor-in-chief for Time, Sam Jacobs.

This year’s list is divided into six categories: Artists, icons, titans, leaders, innovators, and pioneers.

This year’s list include Ms Yulia Navalnaya, widow of the late Russian leading dissident Alexei Navalny, Palestinian photographer Motaz Azaiza and entertainer Dua Lipa. 

Ms Lee is in the leaders section. Her blurb is written by renowned American marine biologist, oceanographer, and author Ms Slyvia Earle, known for her research with marine algae and conservation efforts. 

TODAY has reached out to Time magazine to check which other Singaporeans have made the list previously.

Ms Earle wrote of Ms Lee: “With calm dignity, determination, and grace, Lee successfully led deliberations to legally protect biodiversity within the blue heart of the planet, the cornerstone of earth’s life-support system.”

“We all should applaud her heroic moves, breaking decades of deadlock over governance of human actions that impact not just the future of tunas, sharks, squids, and whales, but that of all of life on earth—humans included.”

Other Singaporeans who have made it onto Time magazine’s other lists include Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who was  in its “Next” list of rising stars in 2022. Mr Wong is set to become Singapore’s prime minister on May 15.

In 2023, superapp Grab was named in the Time 100 Most Influential Companies list. 

In the same year, the inaugural Time 100 Climate list named Singaporean Esther An, the chief sustainability officer at real estate company City Developments, for her work in achieving a 24 per cent reduction of carbon emissions in 2022 from 2016 for the company. 

In April, the newest members of the Time 100 community will gather for a day of conversation at the Time 100 Summit and Time Magazine’s annual Time 100 Gala.


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