Denmark and Singapore 50 years of diplomatic relations – for a sustainable future

In the evening on 20 April 2015 the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore held a significant reception, as it celebrated not only the auspicious occasion of the 75th birthday celebration of Her Majesty, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark but also the official launch to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Denmark.

The Danish Ambassador HE Berit Basse hosted the event with ministers from both countries present, all highlighting in their speeches the two countries’ many joint efforts throughout the years and that have only increased. Clearly they are also aiming for even stronger ties within many areas for the future, and where sustainability is a core theme – and a necessity, in particular for small countries with few natural resources (like Denmark and Singapore).

Also, for historic and geographic reasons, many of the strong business sectors and future focus areas in the respective countries are the same so it is really obvious that there are many common denominators and mutual interests.

From L-R: Mr Inderjit Singh, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio Constituency; Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar Constituency; Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Singapore’s Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Defence; Mr Henrik Sass Larsen, Denmark’s Minister for Business and Growth; H.E. Ms Berit Basse, Denmark’s Ambassador to Singapore; H.E. Mr A Selverajah, Singapore’s Ambassador to Denmark Picture: Royal Danish Embassy, Singapore


In particular focus is that their respective governments are championing green growth through eco-cities. Denmark has a long tradition in urban development that strives to achieve balance between the goals of its people, businesses and environment, and where Copenhagen plays a role model for sustainable and liveable cities.

The ‘State of Green’ is Denmark’s green brand putting into action the Danish aspiration to develop smart nations that are optimised for economic activity, as well as water, resource and energy efficiencies.

A sustainable and liveable future is also at the heart of Singapore’s smart city development agenda.

“Denmark and Singapore share many common attributes in these respects,” said ambassador Berit Basse. “Our two countries have benefitted greatly from one another’s experience and skills through high-level bilateral visits, professional exchanges and deepened collaboration due to memorandums of understanding (MOU). In recent years, the collaborations opportunities are being created at an accelerated pace,” she noted.

That the year 2015 marks the golden jubilee of diplomatic ties between Denmark and Singapore has made these activities even more significant and meaningful. The ambassador explained that they are looking at expanding also to new areas for the future.

“We have 50 years of bilateral ties to prove our friendship. For the next 50 I think both Singapore and Denmark, being leaders in smart cities, water technologies and sustainability solutions will have much more to share and learn from one another. This is the space where our industries and think tanks can come together to provide real solutions that the world today needs urgently to solve its challenges and problems,” she added.

“Bilateral relations between Singapore and Denmark are strong and warm. As small nations, we share many interests and perspectives. These have resulted in deep co-operation not only in international affairs and business, but also in education and training, research and many other areas. I am confident that in the years ahead, both our people-to-people and bilateral ties will grow from strength to strength,” Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Defence Mr Minister Lui Tuck Yew highlighted the close collaboration.

“Singapore and Denmark are both working proactively to support growth in their maritime clusters and both countries have a profound focus on leveraging the potential of being leading global maritime nations.”

He also noted Arctic affairs as a new area for cooperation, where Singapore applied for and was admitted as an observer state in the Arctic Council in May 2013, and where he appreciated the support given from Denmark.

“Our bilateral relations go beyond cooperation in international affairs and business. Our government agencies have visited your country to learn from you, on wide-ranging topics such as sustainable development, smart cities, early education and innovation. Among our educational institutes, the Singapore Management University and the Copenhagen Business School have on-going exchange programmes to promote cross-cultural learning,” Lui Tuck Yew also noted.

He also looked to yesteryear and brought up examples going further back in time than the founding of modern Singapore.

“Although diplomatic relations were established in 1965, ties between our countries and peoples go back far longer. The first Danish consulate in Singapore was set up in 1845 to prepare for the arrival of the Danish vessel, Galathea, during its expedition around the globe.”

Denmark’s Minister for Business & Growth, Henrik Sass Larsen expressed that it was a great honour for him to be present. In his speech he highlighted some of the man new areas within which Denmark and Singapore are cooperating.

“One example is the Danish food industry, which is becoming firmly established here in Singapore. This was recently highlighted by the first visit of a Danish Minister for Agriculture to Singapore last year.”

Two other new areas of cooperation are Architecture and Urban Development. Last year our Minister for the Environment signed a Memorandum of Understanding on water and environmental innovation. And we hope to expand this cooperation in creating liveable and sustainable cities.

He mentioned that the Danish embassy’s efforts to promote new initiatives from Denmark for ‘Smart Cities´ solutions is planned be presented at an event in the fall as a celebration of the Danish-Singaporean 50th anniversary.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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