To write this post, I listened to podcasts on Singapore and Egypt.
Singapore is a country included in the international organization ASEAN. This inclusion allows Singapore to hold greater weight on the international stage than if they were alone. By combining their interests with Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and others, ASEAN integrates much of the Asian economy, specifically in Eastern Asia where The People’s Republic of China is so dominant. Singapore is aided globally by a close relationship with China and surprisingly, a strategic relationship with the United States. While a partnership with these two superpowers is unexpected, Singapore is influential even apart from ASEAN. They have benefited from free trade and are a global export hub. In terms of SDGs, Singapore is a leading proponent of sustainability, hindered by international hesitance to cooperate and put in the same effort. Due to Singapore’s advanced economy and powerful allies, they appear to be in a strong place, stable economically and sustainably. Their partnerships with both China and the United States could pose a threat to this stability as questions arise over the next global power system. Depending on whether the United States maintains hegemonic power, the system becomes bipolar, or China takes full power, along with any other random thing that could go down, Singapore could be caught in that conflict. However, having a close relationship with both could also be beneficial, and they may be able to remain neutral due to their importance to the global economy, and both rival countries’ import reliance on Singapore.
Domestically, since 2013, Egypt has been governed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who took power in a 2013 coup. He is an authoritarian leader with little to no political opposition. Many civil liberties are restricted such as freedom of press and freedom of assembly. There is discrimination against women and the LGBTQ+ community. Despite being able to vote, most candidates are pressured to drop out leaving really only one choice. The presidential term length was extended in 2019 as well making it increasingly difficult for an opposition party to gain power of any sort. Religious minorities have faced persecution and violence as well as displacement.
Egypt does however have a sustainability plan. They recently took lead as the host nation of COP27 and raised $10 billion in climate finance. While sustainability is clearly a goal for Egypt, they continue to struggle with execution. The economic reality the average person faces is bleak. The fallout of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine has increased the stress to food and energy security shifting the focus from global sustainability to domestic problem solving. The UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework between Egypt and the United Nations for 2023-2027 was relatively successful however, and the foundations of a continuous cooperation between the two actors has been laid.
Egypt is a valued US partner in counterterrorism, anti-trafficking, and regional security operations which benefits both countries in a partnership that has continued for decades.
A lot of the UN sustainability goals rely on international actors to play their parts and maintain the peace. To me, the international system is so complexly interdependent that nearly everything happening elsewhere in the world will have domestic impacts.