Media Release of the Twenty-Third Meeting of The Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (23rd MSC)
July 5, 2022
The Twenty-third Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (23rd MSC) was held on 5 July 2022 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. Dato’ Sri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, Minister for Environment and Water of Malaysia. The Twenty-third Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Transboundary Haze Pollution (23rd TWG) preceded the Meeting.
The Meeting noted the information on the review and outlook of weather and smoke haze situation presented by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC). The overall hotspot and smoke haze situation in the southern ASEAN region remained relatively subdued between January and June 2022. Existing La Niña conditions were likely to weaken while a negative Indian Ocean Dipole was predicted to develop in July/August 2022. ASMC assessed that based on meteorological forecasts, the overall smoke haze situation in the southern ASEAN region this year is not likely to be severe as was the situation in 2015 and 2019. The Meeting noted ASMC’s ongoing efforts to adopt the latest technologies in enhancing its products and services which support fires/haze monitoring, assessment and early warning, as well as weather and climate prediction in the ASEAN region, including products in hotspot and haze climatology, air quality dispersion modelling and sub-seasonal to seasonal predictions for disaster risk preparedness. ASMC informed the Meeting that 143 participants had attended training courses and technical fora conducted as part of the five-year ASMC Capability-Building Programme in the past year.
The Meeting noted the information presented by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET Malaysia) on the refinement of the Southeast Asia Fire Danger Rating System (SEA FDRS) that comprises three elements: (i) increase in the number of weather stations (ii) redefine the fire danger code for northern Southeast Asia; and (iii) simulation of the 7-day forecast. The Meeting supported the initiatives by MET Malaysia and will continue the cooperation and promote the usage of new refinements of SEA FDRS.
The Meeting looked forward to the convening of the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (COP-17) in October 2022 in Singapore. The MSC countries reaffirmed their readiness to provide assistance such as deployment of 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 recognised the effects of climate change, such as more frequent drought and other extreme weather events, and agreed on the importance of taking strong action to improve vigilance, 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.
The Meeting expressed appreciation and commended the various initiatives and actions by MSC countries on the implementation of the Strategic Review of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee 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; (iii) bilateral collaboration in line with AATHP; and (iv) capacity building of ASEAN Member States under the Regional Haze Training Network. The Meeting underscored the coordinated support of ASEAN Centres and relevant agencies in providing data and information relating to land and /or forest fires for ASEAN and ASEAN Member States. The Meeting highlighted that ASEAN’s efforts to increase the preparedness for and to mitigate the risks arising from land and/or forest fires require working together with all stakeholders, including strengthening actions at local communities, non-governmental organisations and private companies.
The Meeting supported the outcomes of the Final Review of the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation (Roadmap) that has allowed ASEAN Member States 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 looked forward to further strengthening commitment and cooperation through the adoption of the new Roadmap and new ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy at the upcoming COP-17 to comprehensively address the root causes of transboundary haze pollution, and to augment the assessment, prevention, mitigation and management of land and/or forest fires through concerted national efforts and intensified regional and international cooperation.
The Meeting stressed the need to pursue 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 the call for expeditious establishment and operationalisation of the ACC THPC to facilitate for faster and effective implementation of all aspects of the AATHP.
The Meeting valued the cooperation and support from ASEAN’s external partners to promote sustainable management of peatlands in the ASEAN region and commended the progress implementations of 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 emphasised that strong support is needed from the MSC countries and relevant agencies for the successful implementation of the activities of above said programmes.
The Meeting expressed their appreciation to the Government of Malaysia for hosting the 23rd MSC Meeting and the excellent arrangements made. The 24th MSC Meeting will be held in Singapore in 2023.