Jo Tyndall is the New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore, a position she has held since 2019. Previously as New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassador, she was head of the delegation to the United Nations climate negotiations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from July 2010 to March 2016. From 2014 to 2015, she held a vice president position on the Bureau of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, representing the regional grouping of Western European and Other States. From 2016 to December 2018, she also co-chaired the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA).
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
KrAsia (Kr): How has COVID affected your work as High Commissioner to Singapore?
Jo Tyndall (JT): When the pandemic struck, things got very difficult. Suddenly, there was an enormous number of consular issues—people who wanted to get somewhere ended up being stuck, flights not happening, visas expiring, new border restrictions being implemented every other day, etc. It was complete chaos.
The next problem was supply chain disruption. As we all know, Singapore is reliant on imports for more than 90% of food needs. This became a real issue from the government’s point of view, with mounting pressure to ensure open and consistent food supply. At the same time, New Zealand was getting anxious about medical supplies, for COVID and general purposes. So the whole nature of the diplomatic business changed. There was an imminent focus on tackling supply chain issues and making sure that essential goods could flow freely between the two countries, and Singapore and New Zealand had to work incredibly closely.
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