Asean ministers recommend adopting of joint haze monitoring system

Asean environment ministers and officials at a photo shoot before the 15th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution in Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2013.

The system, which would be used in tandem with official land-use and concession maps of fire-prone areas, will help pinpoint who or which companies own the plots of land which are on fire.

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Statement issued after KL haze meeting

5th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution

17 July 2013

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

1. Ministers responsible for the environment from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, the Vice-Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand and the Secretary-General of ASEAN met on the occasion of the Fifteenth Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 17 July 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2. The Ministers noted the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC’s) weather outlook of occasional periods of dry weather for the next few months until the end of the Southwest Monsoon season in early October 2013. An increase in hotspot activities leading to the occurrence of transboundary smoke haze can be expected during extended periods of dry weather conditions. Indonesia reported that the occurrence of tropical cyclones could also increase the severity of transboundary smoke haze. With the prevailing neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) expected to persist for the rest of 2013, the MSC countries agreed to continue to be vigilant and be prepared for any occurrence of transboundary haze from fires during extended periods of dry weather in the coming months

3. The Ministers noted the seriousness of the recent severe transboundary haze situation. The Ministers commended Singapore for their efforts in the development of the ASEAN Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System (HMS) as agreed at the 14th MSC meeting. The Ministers acknowledged that the HMS is a useful tool that could assist in monitoring and internal enforcement actions against irresponsible parties contributing to fires. The Ministers agreed to recommend adopting the HMS as a joint haze monitoring system among MSC countries, with digitized land-use maps and concession maps of fire-prone areas that cause transboundary haze to be shared on a Government-to-Government basis subject to the ASEAN Leaders’ approval at the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in October 2013.

4. The Ministers expressed appreciation on the substantive efforts by Indonesia in implementing its Plan of Action (PoA) in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution, particularly in addressing the recent land and forest fires which resulted in transboundary haze pollution. Command posts were established and resources from various stakeholders, such as the military, police and the fire brigades under the Ministry of Forestry, community fire brigades, private sector were mobilized. Ground and aerial fire suppression, including water bombing and artificial rain, were conducted. The local communities’ active participation in prevention and mitigation of fires were also secured. Intensive law enforcement was carried out by the Task Force comprising national and local police, relevant ministries and the civil investigators. The Ministers expressed appreciation for Indonesia’s efforts in putting out the fires in a matter of days which led to a drastic drop in fires.

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