Media Release of the Twenty-Second Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (22nd MSC)
November 30, 2021
The Twenty-second Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (22nd MSC) was held on 30 November 2021 through Video Conference. The Meeting was attended by Ministers/representatives responsible for the environment, for land, forest fires and haze, from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, and the Secretary-General of ASEAN, under the Chairpersonship of H.E. Dr. Alue Dohong, Vice Minister of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia. The Twenty-second Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Transboundary Haze Pollution (22nd TWG) preceded the Meeting.
The Meeting noted information on the review and outlook of weather and smoke Haze situation presented by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC). The dry season for the southern ASEAN region in 2021 stretched from mid-July to mid-October, during which there were some days of elevated hotspot activity and localised smoke haze in some parts of Borneo. However, there was no significant transboundary haze observed in the southern ASEAN region during this period. La Niña conditions were present in November 2021 and are forecast to persist till early 2022. The Meeting noted ASMC’s continual efforts in enhancing its technical capabilities in monitoring, assessment and early warning of weather and haze conditions in the region, and weather and climate prediction modelling. The Meeting were updated on ASMC’s enhancements in service delivery and outreach. ASMC informed the Meeting of its 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 614 ASEAN colleagues.
The Meeting congratulated Indonesia in convening the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (COP-16) on 22 October 2021. The MSC countries reaffirmed their readiness to provide assistance such as deployment of the technical resources for firefighting assistance on emergency response situation, if requested, and to collaborate among MSC countries with enhanced cooperation and coordination to mitigate land and forest fires, when necessary. The Meeting also agreed to improve and strengthen vigilance and take preventive measures and immediate fire suppression procedures to mitigate land and forest fires and to minimise the occurrence of transboundary haze during periods of drier weather, while combating the pandemic.
The Meeting noted with appreciation various initiatives and actions by MSC countries and substantial progress on the implementation of the Strategic Review of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) Programmes and Activities which includes, among others: (i) enhancing haze control management through early warning/monitoring and fire prevention; (ii) building capabilities for fire suppression at the local, national and regional levels; (iv) bilateral collaboration in line with AATHP; and (v) capacity building of ASEAN Member States under the Regional Haze Training Network.
The Meeting is pleased to note the finalisation 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 Meeting welcomed the completion of the final review of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS 2006-2020) by the ASEAN Task Force on Peatlands (ATFP). The Meeting looked forward to the development of the next roadmap and APMS, respectively, that addresses the root causes and the implications of the transboundary haze pollution through concerted national efforts and intensified regional and international cooperation.
The Meeting noted the urgency to further intensify efforts 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. The Meeting 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 Meeting were encouraged by the progress despite significant challenges brought about by COVID-19 to the implementations of haze and peatland programmes/projects, namely: Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation in ASEAN (SUPA) and Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA). The Meeting further called upon the strong support from the MSC countries and its relevant agencies to the successful implementation of the activities of above said programmes.
The Meeting expressed their appreciation to the Government of Indonesia for hosting the 22nd MSC Meeting and the excellent arrangements made. The 23rd MSC Meeting will be held in Malaysia in 2022.