Jointly issued by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia.
“3rd Dialogue on Transboundary Haze Pollution” discusses ways and means to enhance efforts to combat fires causing haze in the region
Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA, 5 Oct 2009 – Representatives from over 44 civil society organisations, think tank researchers, and academics met in Kuala Lumpur for the 3rd Dialogue on Transboundary Haze Pollution, jointly organized by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) and the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (ISIS). Three main items were on the agenda: to review the ASEAN haze agreement and the various initiatives and programmes that have been undertaken to date to prevent the recurrence of the haze, private-public partnerships, as well as discuss the topic of haze as a global issue.
The dialogue developed a number of key recommendations for consideration:
1) ASEAN Agreement: Ratification and Enforcement – Indonesia (and also the Philippines) should be urged to ratify and implement the ASEAN Haze Agreement. The importance of enforcement against illegal fires should be emphasized by all countries. These actions should be taken first and foremost by Indonesian and other authorities against acts on their territory in ways that are consistent, even-handed and robust.
2) In addition, ASEAN governments should be urged to consider a Protocol to the Agreement to take into account the developments in working agreements, provide operational details and commitments to the Agreement, and move towards procedures for monitoring, compliance and assistance.
3) The existing bilateral and tripartite collaborations between governments and the private sector are proof that with commitment, partners can work closely and successfully together to tackle the challenges associated with forest fires haze. We have to approach this issue with long-term commitment in mind, continue to develop a coordinated multi-sectoral approach, and encourage more public-private partnerships.
4) The Dialogue highlighted the connections between the regional haze pollution, forest fires, and the global challenge of climate change: fires contribute significantly to climate change gases at the global level and, unless addressed, the fires and haze will impact climate change. With the effort to negotiate a new global climate change regime at Copenhagen 2009, the Dialogue called for efforts to link the climate change regime to the problems of deforestation and fires in the region, and the opportunities to include forests as a recognized store for carbon, in the REDD.
The 3rd Dialogue on Transboundary Haze Pollution continues an existing platform for discussing the haze issue amongst ASEAN think tanks, NGOs, and academics. We attach a list of comments from participants, as well as the Dialogue Statement expressing the concerns and recommendations of this group of non-governmental actors. An elaborated set of recommendations will be forwarded to the relevant ministers involved for their deliberations as they meet in Singapore for the next Ministerial Steering Committee meeting.
Here are some comments that we received from participants of the dialogue:
On how the haze is a global issue:
“Wherever its primary source, forest fires and the resultant haze have become common problems for ASEAN neighbours, threatening human, economic and ecological well-being across borders. It is a serious recurrent phenomenon that requires earnest collective consultation and effective coordinated response.”
Tan Sri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan, Chairman and CEO, ISIS Malaysia.
"This is more than a local and regional issue. It is a global issue that connects to climate change. It is ironic that while we are debating the future of cooperation on climate change little attention is given to this large scale, recurring problem."
Assoc Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs
“Transboundary haze pollution is a recurring problem that not only contributes to the escalating climate change proble,, but also has severe implications for human health. The clearing of natural habitats has also negatively impacted biodiversity in a global biodiversity hotspot. All relevant stakeholders: the public, private and people sectors should make it their personal agenda to mitigate our pollution from haze.”
Ms. Uma Sachidhanandam, Singapore Environment Council
“Forest fires are not only impacting the South East Asian countries economies and the health of the people in this region but are also releasing a huge amount of greenhouse gases and contributing to runaway climate change. Forest fires are a big impact of rampant deforestation in countries like Indonesia, contribute to this regions considerable carbon footprint; yet South East Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impact of climate change.
Political leaders and people in South East Asia need to wake up to the climate crisis and take immediate action by stopping deforestation. Then forest funds will start to flow from developed countries to protect forests, the people and biodiversity that depend on them and help win the global battle against climate change.”
Bustar Maitar Greenpeace South East Asia Forest Campaigner
On public-private partnerships:
“Oftentimes, there is a division between the business sector and the NGO sector. This dialogue has helped bridge that divide. Sinarmas is actively pursuing ways to improve our sustainability on the ground and looking for NGO partners. One organization here, a potential partner, represents 19 local NGOs doing work on the ground. Such cooperation is part of the foundation of a sustainable future.”
Canecio Munoz, Executive Director, Environment and Stakeholder Relations, Sinarmas
“Private corporations could explore the possibility of coordinating their CSR programs with other like-minded companies to develop a stronger private sector partnership collaboration with the non-governmental actors.”
Mr. Ali Akbar, Head of Institutional Development
Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI)
On the importance of multi-sector partnerships in combating the haze:
“On the community issue, it’s essential to work with the local stakeholders from the early stages to identify the most important issues. Unless you address these issues, the project will be unable to thrive. So projects must provide the right support and incentives for the community.”
Mr. Faizal Parish, Director, Global Environment Centre
On Indonesia ratifying the 2002 ASEAN Transboundary Haze Agreement
“One issue in ratifying [the agreement] is the potential for divisions over controversial issues to spill over into the haze debate, while the other is initiating and sustaining projects. So on the one hand, we must continue to mediate between parties and remove tensions, and on the other, there must be meaningful work on the ground.”
Mr. Laode M. Syarif, Senior Researcher, Indonesian Centre for Environmental Law
For more information, please contact:
Singapore Institute of International Affairs
Lim May-Ann email@example.com office: +65-67349600