Ambassador Anita Nergaard - Photo:Ambassador Anita Nergaard
Ambassador Anita Nergaard

Farewell letter from Ambassador Nergaard

After four hectic, rewarding, and since early 2020, markedly different years as Ambassador of Norway to Singapore, time has come to return to new duties in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo. In departing Singapore, I wish to thank the Norwegian community, our Singaporean partners, and all our colleagues and friends from across the globe for their support over these years.

| Message from the Ambassador

The relations between Singapore and Norway are strong and vibrant. Ever since the establishment of the first diplomatic representation in the 1850s in support of our maritime companies, we have remained ocean partners. As small, open and highly developed countries, we have a lot in common. We support international law and a rules-based order. We believe in multilateral cooperation as the best way to tackle global challenges through common solutions. We regularly exchange views on regional and global issues. Norway engages with ASEAN through our Sectoral Dialogue Partnership, and appreciate the dialogue with and support from Singapore. We welcome Singapore´s contributions to the Arctic Council as an observer country. Our two countries cooperate on climate change and sustainability. We enjoy strong links within research and education, and an increasing interest in cultural exchanges. There is a lot to build on and exciting opportunities going forward.

The pandemic has meant that the last 18 months have been a challenging time for many, with particular strains on those who live far away from families and friends. I have been impressed with the patience and resilience shown by the community, and noted the understanding and respect for the way Singapore has handled the pandemic. Covid restrictions are nevertheless at times a source of frustration, and I sincerely hope that it will soon be easier to visit family and friends and for companies to carry out their regional hub functions from Singapore.

Strong business relations with technology, innovation and sustainability as common themes remain the backbone of our relations. Singapore is often chosen as a place of co-creation and co-innovation, with companies making good use of the access to top talent and the many government programmes and support schemes. Our companies value Singapore´s openness, predictability, and quality of services and infrastructure. With promising long-term growth prospects for Southeast-Asia, the interest in Norway for this region is bound to increase, as you will clearly see when you tune in to the 2nd edition of the Singapore Norway Innovation Conference (SNIC) in October. I am therefore encouraged by the reassuring messages I have received from ministers and other government representatives, reaffirming Singapore´s commitment to remain open to international companies and to offer them the required framework conditions.

In promoting Norwegian companies, competence and solutions in Singapore, the Embassy works closely together with the rest of Team Norway: Innovation Norway, Norwegian Energy Partners, the Norwegian Seafood Council and the Norwegian Business Association Singapore. I wish to thank them, as well as the entire business community, for all their hard work. The dedication, skills, and positive spirit they have shown, also during the pandemic, have made me immensely proud to represent Norway in Singapore.

It is equally positive to witness the steady strengthening of research and education bonds. Again this year, the bilateral Science Week will take the pulse on and promote these relations. There are strong partnerships on climate change and the oceans, decarbonisation and CC(U)S, energy and sustainable design, offshore and floating structures. Given mutual interest in a number of other areas – biotechnology, aquaculture, health technology to name but a few – there is bound to be many more collaboration projects going forward. When conditions again allow, I also hope to see many more student exchanges between our two countries. We both have a lot to offer the other.

Also within art and culture, there was an increasing number of exchanges before the pandemic. While film festivals and virtual events have been able to continue, physical exchanges had to be put on hold. I am sure these ties will again pick up speed as soon as this becomes possible, including with the support of the newly established Norwegian Cultural Centre.

The Seamen´s Church plays an important – even indispensable – role for the community. At the top of “the steepest hill in Singapore”, out in Pasir Panjang, we gather for major celebrations, community activities, and regular sermons. With a new team for the Church on its way in, and provided that conditions allow, the Church will hopefully soon again be a place for the community to gather. On behalf of the Embassy, I would like to thank the Seamen´s Church, including all the volunteers who help out on a regular basis, for their dedication and good spirits.

Allow me lastly to thank the brilliant and dedicated staff at the Embassy. They work very hard to make sure our companies and the community at large receive the support and services they require. The pandemic, with all the restrictions that followed, has made this task markedly different and more challenging. I am proud of the way the Embassy staff have continued to serve with professionalism, compassion and care, and I know they will continue to do so. Thank you, team!

Finally, I look forward to seeing many more collaboration projects and exciting opportunities between Singapore and Norway in the future. The incoming Ambassador and his team will soon be fully in place. I have no doubt that they will help build even stronger relations, and that they will be met with the same warmth, enthusiasm and engagement that I was lucky enough to experience.

My family and I will leave Singapore with fond memories, wonderful experiences, and new friendships. OneNorth – The Little Red Dot – The Lion City – captured our hearts and will remain a part of us forever. I wish you all the very best, and hope to see many of you again before long, be in Norway, in Singapore, or somewhere else entirely!

 

Anita Nergaard

Ambassador

Singapore, 27 August 2021