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A haze-free 2017 is not guaranteed

06 Apr A haze-free 2017 is not guaranteed

A haze-free 2017 is not guaranteed
The fight against the transboundary haze pollution will require
the inclusive cooperation of all stakeholders across the value chain

Singapore, 6 April 2017 – Governments, civil society and buyers have a role to play in realising a sustainable agroforestry sector, and there is no other way to achieve it without the cooperation of all stakeholders, said Mr. Masagos Zulkifli Bin Masagos Mohamad, Singapore Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. He was speaking at the Fourth Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources (SDSWR), organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) earlier today.

Environmental sustainability has been a strong priority for the region, especially for Indonesia – forest and peat fires in Indonesia have been a strong contributor to the transboundary haze pollution in the past. However, under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration, there has been renewed ambition to battle the ongoing haze problem, through strong positive actions to contain hotspots over the past year. Minister Masagos also praised Indonesia’s provincial governments’ efforts towards sustainability.

H.E. Alex Noerdin, Governor of South Sumatra, Indonesia, reiterated the success of the Indonesia’s efforts: “We decided no fire, no haze anymore, to end it in 2016 – and we succeeded.” The Green Growth Development plan, initiated by the province two years ago, involved partnerships with private companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the management of sustainable landscapes. Speaking to the media, Governor Noerdin guaranteed that there will be no haze coming from South Sumatra this year.

That said, Dato Sri Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi bin Tuanku Jaafar, Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment highlighted insufficient financial resources as a key challenge to the full and sustained implementation of sustainable forest management. He added that developed countries and agencies have a key role in ensuring that adequate financial, technological and technical capacity are made available to all countries that are undertaking forest conservation efforts.

Held at the St. Regis Singapore, the SDSWR was attended by over 300 invited guests from the civil service, private sector, policymakers and non-governmental organisations. The SDSWR was sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, Asian Agri, Cargill and Temasek International Pte Ltd.

Temasek International Pte Ltd’s Managing Director Enterprise Development, Managing Director Sustainability, Ms. Neo Gim Huay, believes that companies who are used to thinking only of commercial sustainability, must now also look at environmental and social sustainability, and to constantly balance these different considerations in decision making.

Minister Masagos also added that there is a growing role that investment firms and financial institutions can play, to bring about green transformation in the financial sector. Sustainability should no longer be an afterthought, he said, as it can directly impact the bottom line.

In this respect, the SIIA had also launched at today’s SDSWR, the Collaborative Initiative on Sustainable Finance in Singapore, in partnership with the UN Environment Inquiry with the support of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This initiative will establish a baseline of sustainable finance in Singapore, and explore the possibilities to move forward as a nation.

“We have to recognise our responsibilities as a regional hub, and push for greater sustainability measures, not only through Singapore, but through the links and levers we have from here in trade and finance,” said SIIA Chairman Associate Professor Simon Tay.

He added: “While 2016 was a good year, blue skies are not guaranteed. We must come together to tackle sustainability issues across the value chain, so that we enjoy not only a haze-free year, but a haze-free future.”

The SIIA also launched the executive summary of its special report titled “Peatland Management and Rehabilitation in Southeast Asia: Moving from Conflict to Collaboration”. The report was written as a follow-up to a regional workshop on peatland management which the Institute organised with local partners in Jakarta last October.

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Started in 2014, the Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources aims to be a leading regional conference that gathers government policymakers, business leaders in relevant sectors and non-government experts to discuss the most pertinent sustainability challenges in ASEAN’s plantation sector. The Dialogue will feature best practices in corporate sustainability that various stakeholders advocate and adopt, and foster collaborations among the forward-looking delegates.


The SIIA is an independent think tank dedicated to the research analysis and discussion of regional and international issues, and plays a key role in Track II diplomacy, supplementing official dialogue between governments. Founded in 1961 and registered as a membership-based society, the institute is Singapore’s oldest think tank that aims to help Singapore become a more cosmopolitan and global society through public education and outreach on international affairs. The SIIA is also a founding member of the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN-ISIS), a regional alliance of think tanks.

Since 2013, the SIIA has ranked highly as one of the top think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in the Global Go-To Think Tank Index done by the University of Pennsylvania. In the index, SIIA has consistently ranked among the top 100 think tanks in the world.