Siem Reap city, Siem Reap province – DEPUTY Prime Minister Aun Pornmoniroth yesterday said that Asean should enhance coordination, management and increase resources to cope with forest fires and trans-boundary haze pollution.
He was speaking at the opening of the 15th Asean Ministerial Meeting for the Environment in Siem Reap city.
“Asean must ensure proper land use planning, sustainable forest management and cleaner air in the region,” Mr Pornmoniroth noted.
He said that Asean must intensify cooperation, especially preventive measures such as law enforcement and implementation of zero burning and controlled burning practices to promote a haze-free region.
“We must ensure timely and effective responses to these [forest] fires when they occur once the Asean Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution goes into force,” Mr Pornmoniroth said.
Air pollution levels recently reached dangerous levels in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand following forest fires in Indonesia.
Mr Pornmoniroth noted that Cambodia was pleased to hear about the progress on the establishment of Asean Coordinating Centre for Trans-boundary Haze Pollution Control in Indonesia.
“I would also like to encourage all relevant stakeholders to make further progress in this meeting on ways to share and mobilise our land and forest fire fighting resources; on strategies for fire prevention, mitigation and emergency response,” he said.
During the opening ceremony, Environment Minister Say Samal expressed his thanks to the governments of Singapore and Thailand for their recent efforts in hosting the Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Environment and in achieving the 2018 Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action and the 2019 Bangkok Declaration on Marine Debris in Asean Region, respectively.
“As we are aware, the world has been facing increasing environmental challenges, namely climate change and natural disasters. More frequent occurrences of severe droughts, forest fires, storms, and landslides are major manifestations,” he noted.
Mr Samal added that more concerted efforts are needed to ensure environmental protection and sustainable development in the Asean region.
“Indeed, we have subsequently made the efforts to promote environmental cooperation among the Member States, and to enhance cooperation and to strengthen partnership with dialogue partners and international development partners,” he said.
Lim Jock Hoi, Asean secretary-general, said that in the face of the recent smoke haze affecting various Asean countries, the region more than ever needs to work closely to consolidate existing initiatives to combat the haze.
“The situation also clearly reflects the complexity and cross-sectoral nature of the issue whereby multi-agency response and coordination is imperative to solve this seemingly intractable problem,” he noted. “Asean leaders have placed their trust to the mechanism of the Asean Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution to prevent and monitor trans-boundary haze pollution so as to ensure that environment and human health would not be affected,”
Mr Lim also appealed to all Asean member countries to do more to strengthen regional cooperation to prevent the trans-boundary haze pollution.