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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   26 September 2013  

14th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution

14th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and
9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the
ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution

25 September 2013, Surabaya, Indonesia

1.    Ministers responsible for the environment from ASEAN Member States (AMS) held their 14th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 25 September 2013 in Surabaya, Indonesia. The Ministers reviewed regional cooperation on a number of environmental issues, in particular the related actions in the environmental sustainability section of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint, and discussed new initiatives to further promote regional environmental cooperation.

2.    The Ministers reviewed national, sub-regional and regional activities to address land and forest fires in the region and its associated transboundary haze pollution. The Ministers welcomed the significant progress in the implementation of the Work Programme of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, including concrete on-the-ground activities; the progress in the development of the ASEAN-wide Fire Danger Rating System; implementation of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (2006-2020) and the implementation of the Strategic Review on Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution programmes. The Ministers adopted the updated ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (2006-2020).

3.    The Ministers noted that in the northern ASEAN region, the prevailing rainy season is expected to keep hotspot activities subdued until the onset of the traditional dry season in December 2013. For the southern ASEAN region, the prevailing dry season is expected to continue till early October 2013. An increase in hotspot activities leading to the occurrence of transboundary smoke haze may still be expected during extended periods of dry weather conditions. The ASEAN Member States pledged to remain vigilant and continuously monitor and implement haze preventive activities.

4.    The Ministers agreed to recommend to the ASEAN Leaders to adopt the ASEAN Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System (HMS) as a joint haze monitoring system among MSC countries, with digitized land use maps and concession maps of fire-prone areas that cause transboundary haze to be shared on a Government-to-Government basis. The Ministers agreed to take prompt action based on the decision of the ASEAN Leaders at the 23rd ASEAN Summit in October 2013.

5.    The Ministers agreed to set up a Task Force comprising of Panel of Experts on Fire and Haze Assessment and Coordination to review the existing alert levels and formulate trigger points.

6.    The Ministers noted that several ASEAN Member States have contributed to the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund towards realising the pledge of providing an initial seed contribution of US$500,000 for the Fund. The Ministers welcomed contributions from other partners to the Fund.

7.    The Ministers noted the significant progress and achievements of the two projects on Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in Southeast Asia (funded by Global Environment Facility) and the SEApeat Project (funded by European Union) which will conclude in 2014. The Ministers supported the Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystem in ASEAN for the period 2014 to 2020 based on the lessons learned from these two projects in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy by the year 2020. The Ministers also supported the development of a similar longer term programmatic approach to address fires in the Mekong region which mostly originates from agricultural activities and forest areas.

8.    The Ministers adopted the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP) 2014-2018 as the successor plan to the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP) 2008-2012, to serve as a guiding document to continue promoting sustainable development through environmental education and public participation. The Ministers expressed satisfaction on the successful implementation of the AEEAP 2008-2012.

9.    The Ministers noted the publication of the ASEAN Guidelines on Eco-schools to serve as reference for promoting coordinated development and establishment of eco-schools in ASEAN Member States.

10.    The Ministers approved the nomination of Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines as the 33rd ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP). The AHP Programme serves as a regional network of national protected areas of high conservation importance preserving a complete spectrum of representative ecosystem to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of ASEAN’s rich natural heritage. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in Los Baños, Philippines serves as the Secretariat of the AHP Programme.

11.    The Ministers noted with appreciation the ratification of the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) by the Government of Thailand on 19 February 2013 and the Government of Malaysia on 29 April 2013. The Agreement entered into force on 23 July 2009, following the deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification by Myanmar to the ASEAN Secretariat.

12.    The Ministers agreed that the 3rd ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City (ESC) Award and 2nd Certificate of Recognition Presentation Ceremony be held back-to-back with the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment (IAMME) in 2014 in Lao People's Democratic Republic. The Award aims to promote environmentally sustainable cities in ASEAN by recognising exemplary efforts and sharing best indigenous practices to keep cities clean, green, and liveable.

13.    The Ministers expressed appreciation to the Government of Viet Nam for successfully hosting the 4th High Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities on 21-22 March 2013 in Hanoi, Viet Nam, with support from the Government of Japan, Australia and the ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities. The event promotes information exchange and foster concrete collaborative actions on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC), an immediate priority area for regional collaboration among East Asia Summit (EAS) participating countries identified at the Inaugural East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting (EAS EMM) in 2008.

14.    The Ministers adopted the ASEAN Joint Statement on Sustainable Consumption and Production to express their commitment to strengthen cooperation within ASEAN and with ASEAN Dialogue Partners, relevant UN Agencies and other international partners on the implementation of the 10-Year Framework of Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP). The Ministers also encouraged relevant stakeholders in ASEAN, including private sector and civil society, to enhance their contribution to sustainable development by continuously building its capacities, implementing best practices for Sustainable Consumption and Production, and promoting exemplary regional cooperation of  the 10YFP activities, including through relevant ASEAN Bodies.

15.    The Ministers will meet their counterparts from the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea at the 12th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting on 26 September 2013 to exchange views on global environmental issues, and to discuss activities on areas such as biodiversity, climate change, environmental education, environmental science and technology, and environmentally sustainable cities.

16.    The Ministers responsible for the environment will meet again in Lao PDR in 2014 on the occasion of the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

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AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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