New panel on transboundary pollution

New panel on transboundary pollution
Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan urged Indonesia to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

SINGAPORE - The Government will appoint an international panel to advise it on issues related to transboundary pollution.

The body will be co-chaired by Professor S. Jayakumar and Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh, and will include legal experts from Singapore and overseas.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament yesterday that it will provide insights on trends and developments in international law related to transboundary pollution, as well as legal issues arising from its impact.

The International Advisory Panel on Transboundary Pollution, as it will be known, will also advise the Government on solutions that Singapore can adopt.

Dr Balakrishnan urged Indonesia to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, adding that it was the "last member of ASEAN who has signed, but not ratified, the agreement".

The pact, which was signed by all 10 members in 2002, commits countries to prevent open burning, monitor prevention efforts, share information and help one another in tackling the haze.

But "ratifying an agreement on its own will also be insufficient if ground measures remain weak", Dr Balakrishnan acknowledged. He added: "Most importantly, we need effective investigation and enforcement on the ground at the source of these fires."

His remarks come at a time when air quality here - as measured by the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) - is gradually worsening as the haze returns.

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