ASEAN Ministerial Meetings On Transboundary Haze Pollution E-mail
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summary of a meeting of ASEAN Ministers responsible for the environment in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 28th February to 1st March 2007 to discuss issues related to land and forest fires and transboundary haze pollution.

ASEAN Ministers responsible for the environment met in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 28th February to 1st March 2007 to discuss issues related to land and forest fires and transboundary haze pollution. The Ministers reviewed regional cooperation on transboundary haze pollution, exchanged views on actions taken at the national level, and resolved to further strengthen national and regional cooperation.

The Ministers expressed concern that unusual weather patterns experienced lately may bring about adverse weather conditions, and predictions by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre point to a drier weather condition during the middle and later part of this year. The Ministers therefore resolved to undertake concrete actions, particularly on preventive and mitigation efforts, to be better prepared in the event of adverse weather condition.

In this connection, the Ministers at the Second Meeting of the Sub Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution, expressed satisfaction over the urgency shown and action-orientated approach by Member Countries to address land and forest fires and transboundary haze pollution. In particular, the Ministers commended the substantive efforts taken by Indonesia over the last few months to draw up a comprehensive Plan of Action to deal with land and forest fires which includes actions at the national level and local level. The Ministers also expressed satisfaction at the highest level support shown nationally, and the significant progress made in implementing the Plan of Action. These include, among others, the following:

  1. the 35 fire-prone districts are currently developing their respective action plans, in line with Indonesia’s Plan of Action;

  2. the relevant national agencies, namely Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, BAKORNAS PB (National Coordinating Board for Disaster Management), BMG (Meteorology and Geophysics Agency) and LAPAN (National Institute of Aeronautics and Space), have allocated budget to support the implementation of Indonesia’s Plan of Action and identified experts for the Plan of Action and the Panel of ASEAN Experts;

  3. the Government of Singapore is making good progress in assisting the Provincial Government of Jambi to develop a Master Plan for Muaro Jambi Regency;

  4. a monitoring and law enforcement system has been put in place in Riau Province that has proved to be effective in reducing the number of hotspots in February 2007;

  5. the President of Indonesia is scheduled to meet with officials of the fire-prone districts in anticipating the upcoming dry season;

  6. stringent law enforcement is being implemented in the fire-prone areas as a deterrent for both individuals and plantation companies;

  7. task forces have been set up in Kalimantan (based in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan) and in Sumatra (based in Pekanbaru, Riau) to closely monitor the fire and haze situation and give reports directly to the Minister and subsequently to the President;

  8. the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Forestry and the Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia are scheduled to meet soon with timber processing estate, logging and plantation companies to develop a comprehensive strategy and seek their cooperation in preventing and suppressing fires in the next dry season;

  9. a Presidential Decree is currently being drafted to implement the national action plan on sustainable management of peatlands, with efforts focusing on rehabilitation of degraded peatlands and water management.

The Ministers also noted that Indonesia has set a target to reduce the number of hotspots by 50% this year in forested areas. In addition, as of date, Indonesia has mobilized about 700 billion Rupiah to implement its Plan of Action especially for prevention and suppression.

The Ministers, apart from undertaking national level actions to address land and forest fires within their territory, have demonstrated full commitment to assist Indonesia in the implementation of its Plan of Action. In particular, Singapore is working with the Ministry of Environment of Indonesia and the Provincial Government of Jambi to develop and implement a Master Plan for the Muaro Jambi Regency. The Meeting recognized this innovative approach of working at the local and community level, and agreed that other Member Countries may follow the approach of Singapore. Malaysia indicated that it will assist Indonesia with capacity building by undertaking a number of projects, including working with plantation companies to implement zero burning practices and other preventive measures.

The Ministers at the Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution adopted the Financial Rules for the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund, and agreed to establish the Fund by providing an initial target amount of USD500,000. The Ministers also discussed strategies to encourage contributions to the Fund from other countries, organizations and the private sectors.

The Ministers at the Twelfth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Haze recognized the contribution of various partners over the last ten years in assisting ASEAN to address land and forest fires. As land and forest fires brings about significant consequences to the global environment, the Ministers called upon these partners to renew and further strengthen their contribution to ASEAN, in particular support for Indonesia’s Plan of Action, and ASEAN Haze Fund.

The Meeting was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN solidarity and cordiality.

APEC EGS News / Updates

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