November 13, 2007
ASEAN to issue 2 statements on tackling climate change issue
ASEAN's readiness to tackle challenges of climate change and the environment will be spelt out in two key statements at the forthcoming Singapore ASEAN Summit, said the grouping's Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, he said the first statement will be issued by the ten member countries themselves, while the second one will be issued jointly with leaders of the East Asia Summit, which include China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
ASEAN's message to the global community on addressing the issue of climate change is clear, said Mr Ong. And the grouping is not falling behind the rest of the world in dealing with global concerns. He said: "ASEAN countries, coming from different levels of development, have different national concerns. So what they have done is to work out a baseline – this is what all of us can do together, so let us put it down for the first time in a clear, specific way. Then we go to the next stage – What more can we all do from the baseline? Who is ready to do more? And how much more can you do? Many countries in ASEAN are ready to do 'baseline plus'."
Mr Ong explained that the biggest concern in Southeast Asia is the forests, and ASEAN's position is that forests must be harvested in a systematic way.
The grouping will follow certain guidelines which have already been developed. And this time round, the guidelines will also be entrenched in the leader's statement. The secretary-general said: "For example, very few people know that we have 27 national heritage parks in ASEAN. Some of these parks are four or five times the size of Singapore and in these parks, logging and harvesting of any forested products can only be done in a controlled systematic way. So we are now trying to do more to grow these initiatives and to have more of such ASEAN heritage parks for the protection of the environment."
Another initiative which Southeast Asian leaders will deal with during the summits is the challenges that come with Southeast Asia's vast water resources. In fact, nearly half of the Southeast Asian region is made up of water and sea, so the declarations at the summits will also deal with protecting the sea and even the coral reefs and coastlines. Mr Ong added that ASEAN's leaders will also recognise the efforts of civil society groups on the environment because addressing these challenges cannot be the role of governments alone.
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