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Singapore’s Hawker Culture added to Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

More reasons for Singapore to celebrate this month


Last week Singapore showed that she might be small but sure is mighty as it received its second UNESCO listing, this time celebrating food instead of greenery.

In a virtual process that took just three minutes, the 24-member group of the international committee accepted Singapore’s application which saw three years of hard work by the National Heritage Board, the National Environment Agency and the Federation of Merchants’ Association’s to get the bill passed.

Singapore first caught the UNESCO list’s attention in 2015 with the Botanical Gardens, but this listing is its first on the intangible cultural heritage list, which currently has 463 items including Indian yoga and Belgian beer. An undeniable highlight of the Singapore food scene, the admission of hawker culture onto the list means Singapore must both protect and promote it and also prove to UNESCO every six months that they have made appropriate steps to safeguard it for future generations. And while it is always nice to make headlines, the decision comes at a time when the hawker scene finds itself struggling to attract future generations.

Speaking of the decision, Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth said: "Singapore's hawker culture is a source of pride for Singapore and all Singaporeans. It reflects our living heritage and multiculturalism, and is an integral part of the daily lives of everyone in Singapore regardless of age, race or background. I thank all our hawkers and Singaporeans for their overwhelming support of this nomination... We pledge to do our part to safeguard our intangible cultural heritage."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took to Facebook to thank those who helped with the nomination process, saying: “ The biggest thanks must go to the generations of hawkers for nourishing a nation’s stomach and spirits. This recognition would not have come without their sweat, toil and dedication to their profession.”