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SIIA’s Haze Outlook 2021: Likelihood of severe transboundary haze in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore is low or “Green”

24 Jun SIIA’s Haze Outlook 2021: Likelihood of severe transboundary haze in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore is low or “Green”

Media Release
For Immediate Release

SIIA’s Haze Outlook 2021:
Likelihood of severe transboundary haze in Southern ASEAN is low or “Green”
However, a lower risk does not mean zero risk, says the think tank in its latest Haze Outlook report

Singapore, 24 June 2021 – The prospects for a severe and prolonged transboundary haze incident affecting Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and others during the current dry season is low or “Green”; on a scale of Red, Amber and Green. This is the key finding from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) Haze Outlook 2021 report which was launched today at the Institute’s virtual webinar, “Haze Outlook 2021: Sustainable Resources and Opportunities in ASEAN”. This year’s report also assesses the business opportunity for nature-based projects in Indonesia.

“Our region is at a key juncture on transboundary haze. In relation to carbon and climate issues and economic recovery from COVID-19, the challenge is to change risk to opportunity and twin recovery with greener business practices,” said Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, SIIA. “The possibility of creating, certifying and selling carbon credits can be a major turning point.”

The report is produced through research and analysis, as well as through engagements with the SIIA’s sustainability stakeholders in the region, including Indonesian government agencies, agribusiness and forestry companies, non-governmental organisations, and academics. This is the first time the Institute’s annual Haze Outlook predicts a Green risk rating since it was first introduced in 2019. This relatively positive risk outlook is based on three qualitative and quantitative factors, providing a risk assessment of the probability of a severe transboundary haze incident affecting Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore in 2021. These factors are:

  1. Weather (projected rainfall and temperature) – According to projections, the 2021 dry season will see normal or average conditions;
  2. Peat (land management policies) – Indonesian authorities have sent positive signals in recent months on their continued commitment to sustainability and fire prevention; and
  3. People (human behaviour) – While the prices of agricultural commodities are rising, it is not yet clear that this will result in increased land clearing and burning.

 

However, low risk for a severe transboundary haze incident does not equate to no risk.

“The report acknowledges a number of policy issues with potential environmental impact that need to be monitored in the longer term. But these do not detract from the Green rating for 2021,” said Mr. Aaron Choo, Senior Assistant Director (Special Projects and Sustainability), SIIA.

Beyond analysing the haze issue, this year’s Haze Outlook report examines the business opportunities related to the generation and sale of carbon credits from nature-based projects in Indonesia.

“In addition to battling the pandemic, the world also recognises the urgency of tackling climate change. Countries are searching for ways to promote the protection of natural ecosystems. One answer might be in the generation and sale of carbon credits for the voluntary offset market, which can, in turn, fund ecosystem conservation,” said Ms. Meixi Gan, Deputy Director (Sustainability), SIIA.

Mr. Herry Purnomo, Scientist, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Professor at IPB University, commenting at the SIIA’s launch event, said, “Congratulations to Indonesia for being able to reduce fire and deforestation with collaboration from neighbouring countries like Singapore and others in Asia.”

The “Haze Outlook 2021: Sustainable Resources and Opportunities in ASEAN” was attended by more than 100 representatives from the public, private and people sectors, from Singapore and the region.

The report is available for download at this link.


Media Contact
Email: [email protected]

About the Singapore Institute of International Affairs
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. Since 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. In 2019, it was recognised as the No. 1 think tank in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific (excluding India). In 2020, it was also recognised as one of the think tanks with the best policy and institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the SIIA’s Sustainability Programme
The SIIA’s Sustainability Programme was established in 1997 when it organised Singapore’s first haze dialogue with the Singapore Environment Council. Since then, the Sustainability Programme has evolved to address a range of sustainability issues ASEAN faces. The Programme continues to focus on the haze and resource sector, as well as using green finance and carbon financing as levers to advance supply chain sustainability and drive Southeast Asia’s “green recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of its Sustainability Programme, the SIIA facilitates dialogues between governments, private sector, academia and NGOs. One of the SIIA’s key platforms is its flagship event, the Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources (SDSWR), launched in 2014. The annual event attracts about 300 high-level participants to discuss best practices, new commitments and noteworthy cross-sector collaborations in ASEAN’s resource sector, to prevent and mitigate the recurrence of transboundary haze. A key research output by the Institute is the SIIA Haze Outlook report. Launched in 2019, the report serves as a risk assessment and predictive tool for countries in the region to determine the likelihood of a severe transboundary haze incident. In 2020, the SIIA released the report “ESG in Practice: A Closer Look at Sustainability in ASEAN’s Palm Oil and Pulpwood Sectors”, providing recommendations to align agribusiness and forestry stakeholders on environmental, social, and governance factors towards a long-term vision of sustainable production.