ASEAN ministers agree to tackle transboundary haze

FIVE ASEAN countries, including Brunei, agreed to remain vigilant and step up their efforts to minimise any possible occurrence of transboundary smoke haze from land and forest fires in anticipation of the extended drier weather in the coming months.

This is a move to deal with the high risks of occasional extended periods of drier and warmer conditions due to the possibility of the prevailing moderate El Nino strengthening in the coming months.

Such weather condition, which is drier than usual, could lead to increase in hotspot activities and transboundary smoke haze from land and forest fires in the region during the season.

This was among other outcomes produced in Jakarta, Indonesia yesterday during the 17th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution, which was attended by ministers responsible for the environment from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Development (MoD) said that Brunei was represented by the Minister of Development, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman; Brunei’s Ambassador to Indonesia Brigadier General (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Yussof Hj Abd Rahman; Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at MoD Hj Muhammad Lutfi Abdullah as well as senior officials from the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe).

The statement said the ministers noted the continued efforts by Indonesia on finalising its respective Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Malaysia and Singapore to address transboundary haze isues, building upon the previous successful experiences in bilateral cooperation in Riau and Jambi provinces.

In this regard, it added, Malaysia and Singapore look forward to finalising their respective MoUs with Indonesia soon.

The meeting also noted the substantive progress of the development of the successor ASEAN Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems (APSMPE 2014-2020), and the encouraging response and support from ASEAN dialogue and development partners.

“The ministers renewed their commitment to implement this regional Programme through ASEAN mechanisms, enhanced national level efforts and multi-stakeholder partnership,” the statement said.

The ministers also stressed the need to develop a Roadmap on ASEAN cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation.

They welcomed Thailand’s offer to host a workshop to draft the Roadmap next year with a view to promote sharing of experiences and lessons learned, enhance institutional capacities, human resources development and technology transfer to achieve a vision of haze-free ASEAN by 2020. – Sally Piri

The Brunei Times



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