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SIIA Launches Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN at the 6th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources

02 May SIIA Launches Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN at the 6th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources

Media Release
For Immediate Release

SIIA Launches Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN at the
6th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources
Likelihood of Occurrence of Bad Haze in 2019 is Amber

Singapore, 2 May 2019 – The likelihood of occurrence of bad haze for 2019 is anticipated to be Amber. This is the key finding from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN. The summary report was launched today at the Institute’s flagship event, the 6th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources Conference (SDSWR) held at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore.

The Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN was developed by the Institute in early 2019 to serve as a risk assessment and predictive tool for countries in the region to determine the occurrence of haze. The report uses qualitative and quantitative data based on three factors to assess the recurrence of haze – weather, peat and people. The countries included in the report are Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. (More information about the Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN can be found in Annex A.)

“For more than 20 years, ASEAN has suffered recurrent episodes of severe haze where the skies were “dark at noon”. The SIIA has been at the forefront of initiatives for analysis and advocacy, bringing stakeholders together,” said Professor Simon Tay, Chairman of the SIIA.

Prof Tay continued, “For the past few years there have been blue skies but it continues to be important to understand why this has happened and to continue efforts to achieve better outcomes even as climatic and other factors change. We hope our Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN will keep stakeholders focused on the risks and reinforce efforts to prevent the recurrence of severe haze.

In addition to the Haze Outlook Report for Southern ASEAN, the Institute also launched the report titled, Palm Oil and Biofuels: Surveying the Sustainability Landscape in Europe, China and India. The report is a follow-up from the workshop jointly organised by the SIIA and World Resources Institute (WRI) in November 2018 to discuss the impact recent global developments have had on producing countries and what can be done to increase the demand for sustainable palm oil in major consumer countries such as China, India and the European Union.

The SDSWR was jointly organised by the SIIA and the World Resources Institute Indonesia (WRI), the world’s leading global research organisation focusing its work in climate, energy and forests.

“The SIIA has been organising SDSWR since 2014. This year, we are very glad to be partnering WRI to organise our flagship event. This partnership is significant because it broadens and deepens the level of discussion at SDSWR, bringing ASEAN sustainability issues to a global level,” said Ms Lee Chen Chen, Director for Policy Programmes, SIIA.

This year’s SDSWR saw the gathering of more than 300 participants from government, financial institutions, the private sector, academics and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) coming to discuss key issues ranging from a haze-free ASEAN 2020 and more importantly, how we can move forward on sustainable production and consumption in Asia.

The 6th SDSWR saw a stellar line-up of speakers ranging from Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Republic of Singapore, YB Teresa Kok Suh Sim, Minister of Primary Industries, Malaysia and Bapak Nazir Foead, Chief, Peatland Restoration Agency, the Republic of Indonesia (BRG RI). (The SDSWR conference programme and speaker line-up is available in Annex B.)

Speakers and participants all agreed that in order to resolve the environmental issues and develop viable solutions for sustainability, constant and open dialogue between different stakeholders is required. Mr Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Director for the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) had this to say about the importance of dialogue, “You need to have a dialogue and to line up what the issues are. Here is where I really like to stress that there must be a government-to-government mechanism, and there should also be a consumer and stakeholder participation in the dialogue as well, although the law is already passed. However, dialogues need to have deliverables and tangible outcomes.”

Reinforcing the point on the need for collaboration, Dr Nirata Samadhi Country Director, WRI Indonesia, had this to say in his closing remarks, “Collaboration requires trusts, and trusts cannot be built unless we have an honest conversation and a safe space to talk about the real problem, and to certain degree, the real interests that each of us have.”

The 6th SDSWR was made possible by Temasek Foundation, APRIL and Standard Chartered Bank and supported by Enterprise Singapore, the EU Delegation for Singapore and the French Embassy.


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About the Singapore Institute of International Affairs

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Established in 1962, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) is a non-profit and independent think tank committed to producing policy analysis, fostering in-depth dialogues and bridging gaps between policymakers, private sector decision-makers and experts to shape public policy and social responses. Centred around ASEAN focused themes, the institute aims to deliver policy analysis in international affairs and on issues driving environmental sustainability. The SIIA has been consistently ranked as one of the leading think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in the Global Go-To Think Tank Index by the University of Pennsylvania. In 2017, the SIIA was ranked the No. 1 independent think tank in Asia. It was also recognised as one of the top 50 think tanks globally, excluding the United States of America.

About the Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources (SDSWR)

The SIIA has organised key dialogues on transboundary haze pollution since 1997, when large-scale fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra led to one of the worst haze episodes in Southeast Asia on record. Since 2014, the annual SDSWR has become the SIIA’s flagship sustainability dialogue, bringing together 300 policymakers, industry delegates, NGO representatives, academics, and members of the media for a day-long discussion, featuring best practices, new commitments, and noteworthy cross-sector collaborations in ASEAN’s resource sector.

The SDSWR attracts significant media coverage, and has been featured in BBC and Channel NewsAsia, and in news outlets including Bangkok Post, Bernama, Eco-Business, Jakarta Globe, Lianhe Zaobao, Tempo, The Borneo Post, The Nation, The Straits Times, and TODAY. The SIIA also hosts HazeTracker.org, an online repository of maps and articles on haze-related issues designed for a Singapore audience.


Annex A: About the SIIA Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN Report

Q. What is the SIIA Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN?
The SIIA Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN is a risk assessment framework and predictive tool to determine the likelihood of the haze returning to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore during the mid-year dry season. It is the first effort to create a predictive tool based on both quantitative meteorological data and qualitative assessment of interventions on the ground. Most current haze risk assessments draw solely on meteorological forecasts for their predictions.

Phase One of the SIIA Haze Outlook is a preliminary version which we hope to improve with feedback and input from stakeholders. We are releasing our Summary Report for Phase One on 2 May 2019, in conjunction with our 6th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources (SDSWR), in both print and PDF download. The full length Report will be available for download later in May at http://www.siiaonline.org/reports/.

Q. What is the risk of the haze returning in 2019?
The risk of a transboundary haze event, similar to 1997 and 2015, is Amber for 2019 (on a scale of Green, Amber, and Red). Green indicates a low risk of transboundary haze occurring, Amber indicates moderate risk, while Red indicates high risk.

Q. How is the risk rating calculated?
The risk rating is based on three factors:
● Weather: The severe fires and haze in 1997 and 2015 were exacerbated by El Niño. According to forecasts by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) and other agencies, 2019 is an El Niño year. However, the El Niño effect is not expected to be as strong.
● Peat: Degraded peatlands were the primary sites of fires in 1997 and 2015. Since 2015, Indonesia has restored some 679,000 hectares of peatland, under the national peatland restoration agency, Badan Restorasi Gambut (BRG). Peatland restoration efforts appear effective in reducing the number of fires compared to 2015.
● People: Most fires are thought to be man-made. Since 2015, government agencies and agroforestry companies in Indonesia have intensified engagement with village communities and strengthened fire prevention, detection, and suppression capabilities.

Q. Why were the three factors of weather, peat, and people chosen for the SIIA Haze Outlook?
We reviewed some 80 academic studies published since 2015, on the sources and consequences of haze. Methods and approaches vary, but researchers have generally identified drivers that fall into these three areas.

Q. Why does the SIIA Haze Outlook specify it is for ‘Southern ASEAN’?
Our research efforts are focused on the transboundary haze that periodically affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam have also experienced haze this year, but this is a separate phenomenon involving different countries and agricultural sectors.

Q. Who is the SIIA Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN for?
We hope that the SIIA Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN will be useful to both the general public, as well as stakeholders in the governments and the private sector. We have worked to provide a comprehensive analysis based both on weather forecasts and our review of ongoing efforts to prevent fires and haze.

Q. What does the SIIA hope stakeholders will do with the SIIA Haze Outlook?
We hope that the SIIA Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN will raise awareness of the current haze risk and highlight key initiatives by government and private sector actors on the ground. We hope that our findings will help catalyse action, facilitate dialogue, and promote cooperation between stakeholders.

Q. What are your plans for the SIIA Haze Outlook, moving forward?
In Phase One of the SIIA Haze Outlook for Southern ASEAN, we focused on creating a preliminary risk assessment framework. In the future, we hope to include a greater degree of feedback from a wider range of government agencies, companies, academic institutes, and NGOs, in order to better rate the risk of haze.