Recognising the importance of environmental cooperation for sustainable development and regional integration, ASEAN has since 1977 cooperated closely in promoting environmental cooperation among its member states. ASEAN cooperation on the environment is currently guided by the ASCC Blueprint 2025 which envisions an ASEAN Community that engages and benefits the peoples and is inclusive, sustainable, resilient, and dynamic. Guided by the Vision, the ASEAN cooperation on environment particularly focuses on the following key result areas under the characteristic Sustainable of the ASCC Blueprint 2025.
- Conservation and Sustainable Management of Biodiversity and Natural Resources
- Environmentally Sustainable Cities
- Sustainable Climate
- Sustainable Consumption and Production
An ASEAN strategic plan on environment is currently being developed to translate the ASCC Blueprint 2025 into a more detailed plan of actions which shall serve as a guiding document for ASEAN in promoting ASEAN cooperation on environment until 2025. Seven strategic priorities have been identified under the strategic plan:
- Nature conservation and biodiversity
- Coastal and marine environment
- Water resources management
- Environmentally sustainable cities
- Climate change
- Chemicals and waste
- Environmental education and sustainable consumption and production
The institutional framework of the ASEAN cooperation on environment consists of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment (AMME), ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN), and 7 subsidiary bodies / working groups, following the identified strategic priorities:
ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC)
ASEAN Working Group on Chemicals and Waste (AWGCW)
ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME)
ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education (AWGEE)
ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESC)
ASEAN Working Group on Natural Resources and Biodiversity (AWGNCB)
ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM).
AMME meets once every two years, while ASOEN and its subsidiary bodies meet once every year to oversee the implementation of ASPEN and the ASCC Blueprint 2025.
The following chart illustrates the current ASEAN institutional framework for environmental cooperation:
The current lead country arrangement and priority areas for regional cooperation are as follows:
|Subsidiary Body of ASOEN||Chairmanship (2016-2019)|
|ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education (AWGEE)||Brunei Darussalam|
|ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESC)||Cambodia|
|ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB)||Indonesia|
|ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM)||Malaysia|
|ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC)||Singapore|
|ASEAN Working Group on Chemicals and Waste (AWGCW)||Thailand|
|ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME)||The Philippines|
As environmental issues are multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral in nature, strong coordination, collaboration, and communication among AMS, both within the environment sector and among relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, and with dialogue/development partners, are critical.
Environmental issues are addressed not only by ASOEN and its subsidiary bodies, but also by other relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies such as those overseeing the issues of forestry and agriculture, transport and energy, tourism, education, youth, health, social welfare, and disaster management.
ASEAN has also been working closely with various dialogue and development partners in promoting environmental protection and sustainable development.
The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) was established in 2005 and is located in Los Banos, Philippines. In pursuance to Article II of the Establishment Agreement, ACB shall facilitate cooperation and coordination among AMS and with relevant national government, regional and international organizations, on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such biodiversity in the ASEAN region. ACB performs its mandates through five components:
- Programme development and policy coordination;
- Human and institutional capacity development;
- Biodiversity information management;
- Communication and Public Affairs; and
- Organisational Management and Resource Mobilisation.
ACB is managed by a Governing Board (GB), which is composed of the ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN) and the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The GB, which is headed by the ASOEN Chairperson, has the overall responsibility and accountability on the operations of ACB. The ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB), on the other hand, provides technical guidance to ACB by recommending key areas of focus for its work. The AWGNCB members also serve as ACBs National Contact Points in their respective countries.
ACB also serves as the Secretariat of ASEAN Heritage Parks Programme, which is one of ASEAN flagship programmes promoting 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 ASEANs rich natural heritage. To date there are 40 ASEAN Heritage Parks.