MEDIA RELEASE: 8th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution in the Mekong Sub-Region (8th MSC Mekong)

1. The Eighth Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution in the Mekong Sub-Region (8 MSC Mekong) was held on 24 May 2019 in Siem Reap, Cambodia and opened by H.E. Say Samal, Minister of Environment of Cambodia. The Meeting was attended by Ministers/representatives responsible for land, forest fires and haze from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, and the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, under the Chairpersonship of H.E Sao Sopheap, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment of Cambodia. The Fourteenth Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Transboundary Haze Pollution in the Mekong Sub-Region (14th TWG Mekong) preceded the Meeting.

2. The Ministers expressed concern over the recent dry season and transboundary haze pollution affecting the northern ASEAN region and expressed sympathy to the people affected by the haze. The Ministers noted and appreciated the collaborative efforts undertaken by the respective MSC Mekong countries to address the forest fires and the associated smoke haze.

3. The Ministers noted the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centres (ASMCs) review and outlook of the weather and smoke haze situation for the Mekong subregion. The Meeting noted that hotspot activities are expected to be generally subdued in the coming months as the rainy season sets in with the transition to Southwest Monsoon conditions in June 2019. Near-normal to below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures are expected for the Mekong sub-region in June and July. Toward the end of the year, there may be a gradual increase in hotspot activities as the dry season sets in with the Northeast Monsoon. There have been signs of El-Nio conditions developing in recent months, and global climate models from international climate centres have forecast a 50 ? 75% chance of an El Nio in the second half of 2019. The MSC Mekong countries agreed to remain vigilant and take preventive measures and immediate fire suppression procedures to mitigate land and forest fires and to minimise the occurrence of transboundary haze during periods of drier weather.

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