Media Release of the 16th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution
October 22, 2021
The 16th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution were held on 21–22 October 2021 via video conference hosted by Indonesia. The Meetings acknowledged the achievements and progress of regional cooperation efforts on a number of environmental issues.
The Meetings agreed to have an ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26). The Meetings also noted the launching of the ASEAN State of Climate Change Report on 7 October 2021, which was published to contribute to the global stocktaking exercise under the Paris Agreement and assess collective progress towards achieving its long-term goals. The Meetings looked forward to a successful UNFCCC COP 26, scheduled to be held on 31 October–12 November 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
The Meetings endorsed in principle Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN 2021 chairmanship initiatives of establishing the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change in Brunei Darussalam and the ASEAN Youth Climate Action (ASEANYouCAN). The Meetings looked forward to accelerating climate research, development, coordination and cooperation on climate change among ASEAN Member States and its Partners. The Meetings commended the recognition of youth as an essential partner in the fight against climate change and welcomed the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on ASEAN Youth for Climate Action, as a call from the ASEANYouCAN youth delegates for a strengthened regional climate action.
The Meetings recognised the high and rapidly increasing levels of marine debris, and reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris. The Meetings commended the adoption and launching of the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Combating Marine Debris in AMS on 28 May 2021. The Meetings further noted the progress of implementation of marine-debris related projects and initiatives and welcome stronger cooperation with partners.
The Meetings noted the adoption of the ASEAN Joint Statement to the 15th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15), which was delivered by Brunei Darussalam, as ASEAN Chair, during the High-Level Segment of the CBD COP 15 held virtually in Kunming, China (pending delivery). The Meetings also looked forward to the adoption of renewed targets under the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, with special emphasis on promoting nature-based solutions in line with global and regional post-pandemic recovery efforts.
The Meetings commended the adoption of the ASEAN Joint Statement on Chemicals and Waste to the 2021 Meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions. The Meetings reiterated ASEAN’s commitment to effectively manage hazardous chemicals and waste and reduce wastes through the 3Rs and circular economy principles.The Meetings further called for closer regional collaboration to build local capacities, support transfer of technology, share information and best practices, and strengthen technical cooperation on managing hazardous chemicals and wastes.
The Meetings noted the progress in implementing the ASEAN-Mekong River Commission (MRC) Cooperation Framework adopted in 2018, and noted the successful conduct of the inaugural ASEAN-MRC Water Security Dialogue on 19–20 August 2021. The two-day hybrid event allowed technical exchanges among AMS on innovative solutions and best practices on key water security issues, including water access, sanitation and pollution, and water-related disasters.
The Meetings presented the 5th ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) Awards and 4th ASEAN Certificates of Recognition for Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean Land, to selected cities in the AMS. The Minister commended the laudable programmes and initiatives of the city awardees and encouraged other ASEAN cities to learn from these best practices and adopt more sustainable environmental practices.
The Meetings recognised that collective regional actions are still needed to address cross-cutting environmental issues, such as marine debris pollution, sustainable consumption and production (SCP), and circular economy. The Meetings welcomed the ASEAN SCP Framework, which outlines key priorities to adopt measures and support progress in SDG 12, promote sustainable food systems, establish good practices for green products and procurement, and promote sustainable lifestyles in urban and rural settings.
The Meetings noted the progress of implementation of joint activities between ASEAN and China during the ASEAN-China Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation. The Meetings endorsed the ASEAN-China Joint Statement on Enhancing Green and Sustainable Development Cooperation, for consideration of the ASEAN-China Summit. The Meetings looked forward to the ASEAN High-level Forum on Green and Sustainable Development and ASEAN-China Environmental Cooperation Forum on 24–26 October 2021.
The Meetings also noted the continuing dialogues between ASEAN and partners on cross-cutting environmental issues, such as climate change, environmentally sustainable cities, and circular economy at the ASEAN-Japan Dialogue on Environmental Cooperation, ASEAN-ROK Dialogue on Environment and Climate Change, ASEAN-EU High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate Change, ASEAN-US Preparatory Dialogue for Engagement on Environment and Climate Change, and ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on the Environment, held on 16–17 September 2021 hosted by Brunei Darussalam via video conference.
The Meetings expressed concern over the smoke haze affecting various ASEAN countries in the past two years. The Meetings recognised that the COVID-19 situation posed unprecedented threats and challenges. The Meetings further recognised that coupled with increasing threat of climate change, the effects of increasing pollution may pose further environmental challenges to the region. The Meetings agreed to strengthen vigilance and take preventive measures and immediate fire suppression actions to mitigate land and forest fires and minimise the occurrence of transboundary haze during periods of drier weather, while combating the pandemic.
The Meetings noted the weather review and outlook information presented by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) that the dry season for the southern ASEAN region in 2021 has been wetter-than-normal due in part to the negative phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). The Meetings also noted that hotspot activities are expected to increase in the Mekong sub-region with the start of its traditional dry season in December 2021/early January 2022. ASMC assessed that there was a chance of La Niña conditions developing and predicted that wetter-than-normal and warmer-than-normal conditions are expected over most parts of the ASEAN region for the rest of the year. The Meetings noted ASMC’s continual efforts in enhancing its technical capabilities in monitoring and assessment of weather and haze in the region, and weather and climate prediction modelling. The Meetings were updated on ASMC’s enhancements in service delivery and outreach. The Meetings noted with appreciation the training courses and technical fora conducted regularly by the ASMC as part of its five-year Regional Capability Building Programme, which has been well attended by ASEAN colleagues.
The Meetings noted with appreciation the progress of the Final Review of the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation that has allowed AMS to take stock of the progress and sustain the momentum in ensuring demonstrable improvements to achieve the vision of a haze-free ASEAN through the recommendations of a renewed Roadmap for ASEAN. The Meetings looked forward to the finalisation of the review and subsequent development of the next roadmap.
The Meetings commended the ASEAN Task Force on Peatlands (ATFP) and the Committee under the Conference of Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (COM) for undertaking the final review of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS 2006–2020) and development of the next APMS. The Meetings welcomed the Final Report of the Final Review of APMS and were encouraged by the good progress and that it reaffirmed the values of sustainable management peatlands in the region by means of collective actions and enhanced cooperation. The Meetings tasked the ATFP to formulate the next APMS which lays the foundation for ASEAN’s next phase of work in addressing one of the root-causes of transboundary haze pollution.
The Meetings noted the progress towards the finalisation of the Establishment Agreement and Host Country Agreement of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control (ACC THPC) in Indonesia and the urgency to further intensify efforts to bring the negotiations to conclusion. The Meetings reiterated commitment to the full and effective implementation of the AATHP, and looked forward to the expeditious establishment and operationalisation of ACC THPC to facilitate for faster and effective implementation of all aspects of the Haze Agreement.
The Meetings noted the reports by the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (MSC) and the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution in the Mekong Sub-Region (MSC Mekong) in reaffirming their commitment to address specific haze-related issues occurring in the respective regions and looked forward to the earliest convening of the 22nd MSC and 10th MSC Mekong in Indonesia and Myanmar, respectively in preparation for the upcoming dry seasons in the respective sub-regions.
The Meetings agreed to consider joint indicators for 20% ASEAN hotspot reduction for next year, and the new haze-free roadmap.
The Meetings met their counterparts from Plus Three countries (China, Japan, and Republic of Korea) at the ASEAN Plus Three Environment Meetings Meeting to review current activities and discuss future strategic cooperation in biodiversity, climate change, environmental education, environmental science and technology, environmentally sustainable cities, and marine plastic debris, among others.
The Meetings agreed to meet again in Singapore in 2022 for the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, and in Lao PDR in 2023 for the 17th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 18th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.