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Second Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) Forum on Transboundary Haze concludes

Updated On: May 10, 2012

A series of meetings in Brunei on haze pollution in the region, as well as related environment issues ended yesterday afternoon.

The two-day forum, held at the Indera Samudera Hall of The Empire Hotel and Country Club, brings together policy-makers and regulators to interface and interact with one another, and to discuss and strengthen institutional capacity through training, education and knowledge sharing measures on issues that are of common interest and relevant to the MSC countries.

The meetings were organised by the Ministry of Development, Brunei, with the Singapore Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) as strategic partners. Singapore''s Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, also attended the meetings.

Brunei''s Minister of Development, Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Suyoi bin Hj Osman, yesterday highlighted this after officiating the MSC Forum on Tuesday. The minister explained that land or forest fires, the cause of haze pollution, should be mitigated through concrete national efforts and intensified regional and international cooperation.

"These should also include cooperation with government ministries and agencies, MSC countries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, private sector and local and government authorities."

The forum, the minister said, will provide a platform for them "to explore support from the international community to also assist in combating the haze problem."

"We have also made decisive undertakings by employing a bottom-up approach by closely working with provincial and state governments to protect us from land and forest fires. One such example is our collaboration with locals, which can prove to be useful and effective," the minister said.

SIIA Chairman Simon Tay was the Chairman for the first day of the meeting, while SIIA Director Nicholas Fang chaired the second day until Prof Tay concluded the meeting in the afternoon.

Wrapping up the meeting,  Prof Tay noted the work done by governments so far and encouraged them to address the issue of corporates. Prof Tay said "the governments should recognise good corporate environmental citizenship, and encourage practices such as company sustainability statements."

He urged cooperative solutions that would involve not only government officials at the national and local levels but also community groups like NGOs, corporations and landowners.

A key issue that was also mentioned was recurrence despite progress. Prof Tay said that this is despite continuing efforts within the MSC and ASEAN and steps taken by Indonesia, including the Presidential Decree. The MSC Forum was an avenue to bring more NGOs and the private sector into dialogue with government officials and he encouraged their efforts to be continued.

Media coverage of the officiation of the MSC Forum by the Borneo Bulletin can be found here.

Media coverage of the conclusion of the MSC Forum by the Brunei Times can be found here.

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