Brunei's 13 Meeting of Commitee convenes to discuss haze measures in Asean region

Writer: 
James Kon

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - AS Brunei Darussalam prepares to mark the Golden Jubilee of  Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah’s accession to the Throne next month, concern arise over the current state of air quality and favourable weather conditions.

The air quality situation was highlighted by the Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at the Ministry of Development (MoD), Haji Muhammad Lutfi bin Abdullah, as he chaired the 13th Meeting of the Committee (COM13) under the Conference of the Parties to the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP), at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.

The meeting, he said, “is not only a means to gear us at the national level, but also to help garner collective and concerted efforts, for us to be able to better manage and address land and forest fires at the regional level”.

Despite the dry weather conditions of the previous year, he said, “We were fortunate that the southern Asean region experienced less hotspots, less forest fires, and therefore less problems of transboundary smoke haze.

“Nevertheless, we should not be too complacent, and therefore should always remain vigilant to enhance our preparedness and response to any likelihood of land and forest fires in the next dry weather period.

“We have a formidable task ahead of us today, with deliberations on the various agenda items including the consideration of the Establishment Agreement of the Asean Coordinating Centre, which is integral in enhancing the institutional set-up and implementation of the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP); and the implementation of the Roadmap on Asean Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation.”

Leading the delegation from Brunei Darussalam was Dr Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Development.

Among the agenda items is the review and outlook of weather and smoke haze situation by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC); presentations from Asean member states in highlighting updates on the fire and haze situation in their respective countries; and progress reports of activities and actions taken at the national level in addressing transboundary haze pollution.

Also part of the agenda are updates from Asean member states and the Asean Secretariat regarding various national and regional activities on the implementation of the AATHP, focusing on preventive and mitigation measures.

The Asean Secretariat will also present a progress update of the Roadmap on Asean Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation, which serves as a strategic framework for the implementation of the collaborative actions to control and resolve transboundary haze pollution in the Asean region, to achieve a vision of Transboundary Haze-Free Asean by 2020.

Another main agenda item is the update the Asean Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems (2014-2020), one of the collaborative programmes among regional partners.

The AATHP aims to prevent and monitor transboundary haze pollution as a result of land or forest fires, which need to be mitigated through coordinated national efforts, along with more intense regional and international cooperation.

The agreement was established in 2002 and managed by the Asean Ministers of Environment and other representatives from Asean member states.