The ASEAN region is experiencing a recurrence of transboundary haze pollution that results from land and forest fires in Indonesia. The region was particularly hard-hit by the haze pollution during the weekend of 6-7 October 2006, as Indonesian officials reported 1,496 hot spots in Sumatra and 2,075 hot spots in Kalimantan. According to Purwasto, head of forest fire control of Indonesia's environment ministry, Central Kalimantan is the worst disaster zone now with combustible peat dominating the area and burning for extended periods, generating thick smoke to make hot-spot detection via satellite difficult if not impossible.
While the haze woes had already begun early this March, the latest bout has triggered a host of problems disrupting health, education, air traffic and other economic and social activities. This is the worst episode of haze since 1997-1998 when the region, especially Indonesia, was estimated to have suffered some US$9 billion (S$14 billion) in business disruptions and other costs. Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Thailand have all been affected, and the latest episode of haze has even affected islands in the Pacific. The CO2 emissions also contribute to global warming.
In the near decade since then, Indonesia and fellow ASEAN member states have sought to address the problems and have taken steps to strengthen the systems for giving attention to the issue. Indonesia has strengthened its system of laws to ban the use of fires to clear land. An ASEAN Agreement on the issue has also been negotiated and is now in force, to create binding legal obligations to cooperate against the fires and haze. However, while Indonesia took part in the negotiations and signed the agreement, it has yet to ratify the agreement and accept its obligations. While Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on 12 October 2006 said that Jakarta would ratify the treaty, he has given no indication of when Indonesia planned to carry out the ratification - a process that could take months.
Both urgency and frustration are rising among the people in the region; urgency in view of the current and recurring episodes of haze in cities and towns, and frustration in view that the problem has been long-standing.
The dialogue is an effort to bring together stakeholders from civil society organizations and think-tanks based in the region to:
* Review the impact and causes of the transboundary haze pollution and the efforts taken to date;
* Consider and recommend new and additional ways to resolve the current stalemate of fires prevention and control; and
* Promote policy, cooperation among civil society actors, and public advocacy to address the issue.
13:30–13:45 Registration and informal introductions
13:45–14:00 Welcome Remarks by organisers
14:00–15:30 Session 1: Impact, Causes and Efforts to Date
15:45–17:15 Session 2: What More Can Be Done?
17:15–17:30 Closing Remarks
18:00-18:45 Press Conference
18:45–21:00 Buka Puasa: Buffet Dinner & End of Programme
Amb (rtd) Wirjono CSIS-Indonesia Senior Fellow
Dr. Mubariq Ahmad WWF-Indonesia Executive Director
Mr. Satriadi WALHI (Central Kalimantan) Executive Director
Dr. Moekti H. Soejachmoen (Kuki) Pelangi Executive Director
Agus Sari EcoSecurities-Indonesia Managing Director
Dr. Daniel Murdiyarso Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Bogor Professor
Dato Jawhar Hassan ISIS-Malaysia CEO and Director General
Dr. Loh Chi Leong Malaysian Nature Society Executive Director
Faizai Parish Dato Dr, Mikaail Kavanagh Global Environment Centre WWF-Malaysia Director Executive Director
Pengiran Osman Patra Brunei Darussalam Institute of Policy Studies (BDIPSS) Director
Prof, Sanit Aksornkoae Thailand President Environment Institute (TEl)
Nicro Sumdee Director, Urbanisation and Environment Program
Simon Tay SIIA Chairman
Leigh Pasqual SIIA Director
Mr, Howard Shaw The Singapore Environment Executive Director
Dr. Geh Min Nature Society Singapore President
Fabian Foo WWF - Regional Office Managing Director
Frances Seymour Center for International Forestry Research Director General
Raman Letchumann ASEAN Secretariat and Disaster Management Centre Head, Environment
Surendra Shrestha UNEP Regional Director and Representative
Dr. David Glover Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, (International Development Research Centre, Canada) Director
Dr. Ooi Giok Ling NTU-NIE, Professor
Dr. Euston Quah NTU, Professor
Zulkifli Baharuddin, Mercy Relief
Dr. Natasha Hamilton-Hart, NUS