Regional collaborative programme to tackle transboundary Haze

Report
from Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Published on 12 May 1998
Vanguard ASEAN-ADB Initiative to Design, Implement and Monitor
H.E. Prof. Dr. Juwono Sudarsono, Indonesian State Minister of the Environment today opened the Regional Inception Workshop of the Regional Technical Assistance Project on Strengthening ASEAN's Capacity to Prevent and Mitigate Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution, which the ASEAN Secretariat is implementing with assistance from the Asian Development Bank. The Workshop was held at the ASEAN Secretariat and was participated by several countries, regional and international organizations that are concerned about the transboundary haze pollution problem.

The last major episode of transboundary haze in 1997 led the ASEAN Ministers of Environment to endorse the Regional Haze Action Plan, which sets out cooperative measures needed among ASEAN member countries for addressing the problem of haze in the region arising from land and forest fires. The RHAP aims at three priority areas: prevention of forest fires through better management policies and enforcement; establishing operational mechanisms for monitoring; and strengthening regional land and forest fire-fighting capability, as well as other mitigation measures. The RHAP is a regional plan with lead countries appointed to act as focal points in its operationalization: Malaysia is taking the lead in prevention; Singapore in monitoring; and Indonesia in mitigation.

In operationalizing the Action Plan, ADB is adopting a two-pronged approach. First, one million dollar grant support to a national initiative through an advisory technical assistance (ADTA) to Indonesia for addressing the problems resulting from land and forest fires. Secondly, support to ASEAN through a regional technical assistance (RETA) for strengthening ASEAN's capacity in preventing and mitigating transboundary atmospheric pollution resulting from the forest fires. The ADB is funding US$1.0 million of the technical assistance costs of the RETA. The purpose of RETA Inception Workshop is to develop the work programme that reflects the collaborative efforts of the region's national institutions and the donor agencies.

The Inception Workshop catalyzed several collaborative initiatives that were deliberated during an Open Forum Session held on 11 May 1998. The Meeting endorsed a collaborative program among UNEP, WMO, ADB and NOAA to support the WMO's Program to Address ASEAN Regional Transboundary Smoke (PARTS) and associated capacity building programs in the region. The ADB's support for strengthening WMO's Workshop on Regional Transboundary Smoke and Haze in South-East Asia was also supported.

The CIDA Fire Danger Rating Systems was endorsed as an activity which can be integrated into Indonesia's National Haze Action Plan. The CIDA initiative can also be integrated into multiple National Haze Action Plans and the Regional Haze Action Plan. Incipient partnerships between the ADB ASEAN-RETA with a Singapore-based legal environmental NGO, and with the ASEAN legal communities and international organizations will be further developed.

The Workshop also called for a leading role by the ASEAN Secretariat in acting as a clearing house of information relating to fire haze issues through the use of the internet and intranet. The Secretariat was also called to provide coordinating services for all regional meetings and conferences on transboundary atmospheric pollution.

Welcoming Remarks by

H.E. Rodolfo C. Severino, Secretary-General of ASEAN

Your Excellency H.E. Prof. Dr. Juwono Sudarsono
State Minister of Environment, Government of Indonesia

Distinguised Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome to the ASEAN Secretariat on the occasion of the Regional Inception Workshop to strengthen the capacity of ASEAN to prevent and mitigate transboundary atmospheric pollution. I would like to thank H.E. Bapak Juwono for his presence and for agreeing to open this workshop. I also thank the ASEAN HTTP for its support under the strong leadership of the current chairman of ASOEN, Bapak Effendy Sumardja, Assistant Minister for the Environment. As ASEAN Secretary-General, I would also like to express my thanks to ADB's Mr. Bindu Lohani, Manager of ADB's Environment Division. My thanks also to a large number of individuals and organisation represented here today and participating in this workshop.

The great variety of interest and specialization shows a broad range of human concerns and endeavors that smoke and haze pollution deeply affects. This workshop seeks to strengthen ASEAN's capacity to prevent and mitigate atmospheric transboundary pollution. What this means is that we are today launching a collaborative effort between ASEAN and ADB to help ASEAN deal better with the haze problem. If there is anything that symbolizes, dramatizes and demonstrates how events in one ASEAN country deeply affect others, it is the haze problem. It shows as nothing else can the common fate, common interests, common concerns that we in ASEAN share. It shows more vividly than almost anything else, the need for ASEAN solidarity and cooperation, the need for ASEAN to work together to deal with common problem, to face common danger.

Whether we like it or not, the international community, international media, indeed, our own governments and peoples have come to consider the haze as major test of ASEAN's capacity to work together, of ASEAN solidarity, of ASEAN cooperation, of ASEAN's very reason for being.

ASEAN did not suddenly wake up to the call to action sounded by the haze and its serious regional impact. The foundations of current efforts were laid some years ago. In 1990, ASEAN adopted the Kuala Lumpur Accord on Environment and Development where transboundary pollution was major component. In 1992, the Singapore Summit identified transboundary pollution as a primary environmental concern. In June 1994, the Ministers of Environment adopted the ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution, which consisted of three program areas - transboundary atmospheric pollution, the movement of hazardous wastes and ship-borne pollution.

In 1997, with the haze ravaging our landscape, our economies, the air we breathe, the health of our people, the ASEAN Ministers of Environment endorsed the Regional Haze Action Plan, which calls for cooperation in combating haze arising from land and forest fires. It involves the prevention of forest fires through better management policies and enforcement, operational mechanisms for monitoring the situation and strengthening ASEAN's fire-fighting capability. According to the plan, Malaysia takes the lead in prevention, Singapore in monitoring and Indonesia in fire-fighting.

The ASEAN Ministers Meeting on the Haze is held every six weeks and involves not only the environment ministers, for the problem cuts across many lines of traditional governmental and administrative jurisdictions. As we have clearly seen, the haze cannot be handled by the environment ministers alone. In addition to seeking bilateral help, ASEAN countries have cooperated to mobilize international support from governments, NGOs, international financial institutions.

The RETA program is an example of international support. The haze is not the problem of any one country alone - it is a Southeast Asian problem, a global problem. As I said earlier, in the eyes of world and above all, in the eyes of our people, the haze is regarded as a trans-national responsibility, a responsibility that puts ASEAN to severe test.

Our people have seen massive portions of their tropical forests - with all the blessings that they give - literally go up in smoke. They have seen livelihoods disappear overnight, livelihoods which their communities and investors have derived from the forests for centuries. They have seen how the haze has kept away international and regional tourists and the considerable income and jobs that they used to bring. They have seen air and sea transport endangered and disrupted. They have seen the health of their families threatened and damaged, how children had to stay away from school for days. Images of haze enveloped cities and charred forests have been etched indelibly in people's minds all over the world.

The challenge to ASEAN is there for all to see. There is a challenge here, too, for international cooperation. The RETA program is an important part of the ASEAN Secretariat's response to that challenge. The appointment of one of our own, Larry Maramis straight from his tour in the ASEAN Secretariat to the ADB's RETA Program ensures continuity in our response to this challenge. It is appropriate for the RETA program to be launched by an inception workshop. From the outset, we will have the benefit of the knowledge, insight and advice of leading experts and policy-makers in ensuring a good start. I have no doubt that this workshop will point the program in the right direction.

With this in mind, I wish it every success.

Opening Address by

H.E. Prof. Dr. Juwono Sudarsono

State Minister of Environment, Government of Indonesia
at the Regional Inception Workshop

YOUR EXCELLENCY, MR. RODOLFO C. SEVERINO, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF ASEAN

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

I am honored to be here at the inauguration of the Inception Workshop of the Regional Technical Assistance Project on Strengthening ASEAN's Capacity to Prevent and Mitigate Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution. The technical advisory inputs of the RETA project have been much anticipated and will undoubtedly become an instrumental part of the region's effort to address the transboundary haze pollution. Together with the complementary technical assistance programme for the Government of Indonesia approved by the Asian Development Bank in March of this year, there is much expectation that the national and regional efforts will be better integrated and greatly facilitated. We are indeed thankful for the roles of the ADB and the ASEAN Secretariat in making this workshop possible and in providing their resources available to addressing this very formidable environmental challenge to this region.

The ASEAN Ministers for the Environment have had an active advocacy role in bringing the issue of transboundary atmospheric pollution to the regional agenda. Several regional accords and agreements reflect the seriousness and concern of the ASEAN ministers. Among these are: the 1990 Kuala Lumpur Accord on Environment and Development; the 1992 Singapore Resolution on Environment; the 1994 Bandar Seri Begawan Resolution on Environment and Development, which augured the ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action on the Environment; the 1995 ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution; and the 1997 Regional Haze Action Plan. Major episodes of transboundary haze pollution have prompted ASEAN member countries to take more effective and concerted action to prevent and mitigate such disasters. Remarkable and laudable as these regional accords have been, it is fully recognized that action at the frontlines of smoke and haze pollution must be bolstered with action in one's own borders.

The plain reality is that the source of much of the transboundary atmospheric pollution in the region originates in Indonesian soil. Indonesia has been fortunate to have received remarkable regional and international response to boost her own limited resources in preventing, monitoring and fighting forest and land fires. We have benefited from diverse forms of assistance from the World Wide Fund for Nature, the European Union, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the World Bank, the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), the Japan International Cooperation Agency, (JICA), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the German Technical Cooperation Authority (GTZ), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among many others.

I am pleased that many of these organizations including UNEP and NOAA are represented here at this workshop. Together with Indonesia's own agencies and authorities participating at this workshop, I am confident that the important linkages between national, regional and international efforts can be realized. Indeed, this workshop is about building linkages, designing collaborative programmes, working together with a common purpose and goal: to find out all we can about our present and future resources and activities devoted to prevention, monitoring and fire-fighting, and then blend them into a harmonious and effective framework.

I truly wish this workshop all the success and strength it needs, and I am pleased to declare this Workshop open.

Thank you.

Address by

Mr. Effendy A. Sumardja
Assistant Minister of Environment, Government of Indonesia
and Chairman of the ASOEN Technical Task Force on Transboundary Haze Pollution
at the Regional Inception Workshop

HONOURABLE MINISTER PROF. DR. JUWONO SUDARSONO
YOUR EXCELLENCY MR. RODOLFO C. SEVERINO, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF ASEAN
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

It is indeed a pleasure for me to address the Inception Workshop of the Regional Technical Assistance Project on Strengthening ASEAN's Capacity to Prevent and Mitigate Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution. The presence of both Their Excellencies Prof. Dr. Juwono Sudarsono, Indonesia's State Minister of Environment and Mr. Rodolfo A. Severino, Secretary-General of ASEAN lends great significance to this Workshop. Their support to ASEAN's efforts in addressing the problem of transboundary haze pollution is immeasurable. I thank the members of the ASEAN Haze Technical Task Force for placing their faith and trust in me and once again, I will be asking the members of the Task Force to focus their energies for making this workshop a success. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Asian Development Bank and to its representative, Mr. Bindu Lohani, the Manager of the Bank's Environment Division. To all the distinguished participants of this workshop, I look forward to your active cooperation in achieving our objective of establishing a viable and dynamic work programme that fully reflects our ideas and aspirations in combating the haze pollution problem.

In operationalizing the Action Plan, ASEAN is adopting a two-pronged approach with the ADB. First, support to a national initiative through an advisory technical assistance ADTA to Indonesia for addressing the problems resulting from land and forest fires. Secondly, support to ASEAN through a regional technical assistance RETA for strengthening ASEAN's capacity in preventing and mitigating transboundary atmospheric pollution resulting from the forest fires. The ADB is funding US$1.0 million of the technical assistance costs of the RETA. At the request of the Government of Indonesia, the Bank also approved the complementary ADTA in an amount of US$1.0 million on March 20, 1998.

The primary objective of the RETA is to strengthen the capacity of ASEAN to operationalize and monitor implementation of the RHAP. The RETA Team Leader, Mr. Erik Scarsborough will be presenting the proposed approach to achieving this objective at this workshop. The purpose of this workshop is to develop the work programme so that it better reflects the collaborative efforts of the region's national institutions and the donor agencies.

The Sixth Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN) established the Haze Technical Task Force in September 1995. Its purpose is to operationalize and implement the measures recommended in the ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution relating to atmospheric pollution, which are as follows:

(a) to assess the origin and causes, nature and extent of local and regional haze incidents;
(b) to prevent and control the sources of haze at both national and regional levels by applying environmentally sound technologies and by strengthening both national and regional capabilities in the assessment, mitigation and management of haze; and
(c) to develop and implement national and regional emergency response plans.

Several ASEAN bodies and agencies are key to discharging these challenging responsibilities. The ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Centre (ASMC) is the regional facility for developing specialized weather forecasting capability for the region. It serves as a focal point for coordinating detection and monitoring of transboundary atmospheric pollution in cooperation with the national meteorological services of the ASEAN member countries. The proposed Centre for Fire-fighting and Research at Palangkaraya University, Central Kalimantan will also be a prospective partner and resource centre for ASEAN. Mention should also be made of the linkages with the ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry, ASEAN-EC Joint Consultative Committee's Subcommittee on Forest, and the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines (BIMP) and East ASEAN Growth Areas (EAGA) Subcommittee on Forest. When set against the many national activities that are concerned directly or indirectly with transboundary haze pollution, there is a myriad of cross interests, purposes and orientations, all of which must be understood and harmonized into a mutually beneficial coordinated framework.

The HTTF is working diligently in preparing our respective national haze action plans. The national haze action plans form the basic building block for operationalizing the Regional Haze Action Plan. We hope to hold a regional workshop, under the auspices of the RETA project, later this month that will support preparation of the National Haze Action Plans.

On behalf of the ASOEN-HTTF, I would like express my sincere thanks to all the participants of this workshop. Please be assured that you have the support and cooperation of the HTTF in working out a collaborative work programme for RETA.