Ministers responsible for the environment and their representatives from ASEAN Member States met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 18 October 2011 on the occasion of the 13th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. The Ministers reviewed on-going programmes on the environment and discussed new activities to further promote regional environmental cooperation.
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 substantive progress in the implementation of the Work Programme of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, including concrete on-the-ground activities; the implementation of the Strategic Review on Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution programmes and activities, which covers among others the refinement of the Fire Danger Rating System, enhancing bilateral collaboration and replication of bilateral projects, where appropriate, setting up of the Regional Haze Training Network and the organizing of the Second MSC Forum in Brunei Darussalam in early 2012. The Ministers noted that the MSC on Transboundary Haze Pollution in the Mekong Sub-region (MSC Mekong) has agreed to work towards a Mekong sub-regional target of cumulative hotspot counts reduction, and expressed appreciation to Thailand for the cooperation with Lao PDR and Myanmar in providing mobile air quality monitoring stations during the dry season in March-April 2011 and related training programs.
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 November 2011. For the southern ASEAN region, hotspot activities are likely to be subdued due to the wet weather conditions during the Inter-Monsoon and Northeast Monsoon. The ASEAN Member States pledged to remain vigilant and continuously monitor and implement haze preventive activities.
The Ministers noted that several ASEAN Member States have contributed to the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund towards realizing the pledge of providing an initial seed contribution of US$500,000 for the Fund.
The Ministers noted the progress of implementation of the project on Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in Southeast Asia, including the various activities conducted at the pilot sites in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Viet Nam. The Ministers encouraged international and regional collaborative partnerships to support this Project as it seeks to address climate change and biodiversity loss through mitigation of land and forest fires.
The Ministers discussed the draft ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change to the 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) and the 7th Session of the Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP7), which collectively highlights ASEAN’s position towards a positive and equitable outcome at COP17/CMP7. The draft Statement will be further considered for adoption by the ASEAN Leaders at the 19th ASEAN Summit.
The Ministers endorsed in principle the ASEAN Action Plan on Climate Change as a follow-up to the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Joint Response to Climate Change adopted at the 16th ASEAN Summit, as a concrete manifestation of ASEAN’s collective commitment to better understand and respond to climate change.
The Ministers approved the nomination of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park in the Philippines as new ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP). To date, 30 national protected areas have been designated as AHPs. The AHP aims to generate greater awareness, appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of ASEAN’s rich natural heritage, through the creation of a regional network of representative protected areas.
The Ministers witnessed the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Development Film Festival on 18 October 2011 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with the theme ‘Change the Climate Change’. The Film Festival, as part of the implementation of ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP) 2008-2012, aims to inspire and promote awareness of the people of ASEAN on the importance of multi-stakeholders’ participation in addressing climate change. Ten films which were selected competitively by each ASEAN Member State demonstrated the unique, creative, indigenous and impactful initiatives undertaken by various stakeholders towards addressing climate change in the region. The films can be viewed at www.deqp.go.th.
The Ministers endorsed ten ASEAN cities to receive the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) Award 2011, and six cities selected competitively among ASEAN cities to receive the Certificates of Recognition. The ASEAN ESC Award 2011 ceremony will be hosted by Indonesia as ASEAN Chair 2011 on 23 November 2011 in Bali, Indonesia. The selected cities and their achievements can be viewed at www.menlh.go.id.
The Ministers endorsed the ASEAN Guidelines on Eco-schools which will serve as reference for promoting coordinated development and establishment of eco-schools in ASEAN Member States. In addition, the Ministers agreed to confer ASEAN Eco-schools Award in 2012 as a part of ASEAN Environment Year 2012 in Malaysia with the theme “Environmental Awareness through Eco-schools”. ASEAN Environment Year (AEY) is celebrated every three years to promote environmental awareness at all levels of society, highlighting ASEAN’s environmental achievements, and strengthening partnerships among ASEAN Member States, with dialogue partners, private sector, civil society and non-governmental organisations to address environmental challenges in the region.
The ASEAN Ministers will meet their counterparts from the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea at the 10th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting on 19 October 2011 to exchange views on global environmental issues, and to discuss activities on areas such as biodiversity, climate change, environmental education, water resources management, promotion of environmentally sound technology and cleaner production, and environmentally sustainable cities.
The ASEAN Ministers responsible for the environment will meet again in Thailand tentatively in September 2012 on the occasion of the 12th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment.