Media Release: 11th MSC on Transboundary Haze Pollution, 17 February 2011, Singapore

Media Release

11th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution

 17 February 2011, Singapore

 1. Environment Ministers from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Vice Minister from Thailand and the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community met at the Eleventh Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 17 February 2011 in Singapore.

 2. The Ministers noted the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC’s) weather outlook of occasional periods of dry weather over the next two months. With the possibility of the prevailing La Nina weakening to neutral conditions in the second half of the year, drier weather may be expected during the coming traditional dry season between June and September 2011. The MSC countries agreed to continue to be vigilant and prepared for any occurrence of transboundary haze from fires during extended periods of dry weather in the coming months.

3. The Ministers expressed appreciation to Indonesia for their enhanced and new efforts in implementing its Plan of Action (PoA) in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution, which include among others:

(i) Strengthening the capacity of Community Fire Brigades (Masyarakat Peduli Api) on fires warning system and early suppression;

(ii) Enhancing the dissemination of information on hotspots and climate change impacts and natural disasters to the province and district levels (targeting 9 provinces and 74 regencies in Sumatra and Kalimantan);

(iii) Campaigns on zero burning technique and socialization of law and regulation in 9 provinces and 69 regencies in Sumatra and Kalimantan; and

(iv) Allocation of a budget of approximately USD 18.2 million by the Ministry of Forestry for strengthening the Manggala Agni fire brigade in National Parks and Natural Resources Conservation Units nation-wide.

4. The Ministers noted the successful completion of eight action programmes under the Indonesia-Singapore collaboration in Jambi Province thus far. Singapore intends to continue with its efforts in Jambi and explore possible collaboration with another fire-prone province to be agreed upon by both parties. The Ministers also noted the successful implementation of the Indonesia-Malaysia collaboration in Riau Province thus far. Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to continue the collaboration and the detailed proposal will be discussed among both parties. Indonesia is exploring with MSC countries to extend collaboration to other fire-prone areas. The Ministry of Environment of Indonesia thanked Singapore and Malaysia for their collaboration.

5. The Ministers adopted the Strategic Review of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) Programmes and Activities. The Strategic Review contains recommendations on the way forward for MSC cooperation in enhancing haze control management, comprising the Fire Danger Rating System and ASMC’s early warning/monitoring systems, building capability for fire suppression, and sustainable peatland management. The recommendations also include enhancing bilateral collaboration and replication of bilateral projects, setting up a Regional Haze Training Network, organising MSC Forum with key stakeholders and partners on a regular basis, and improving resource mobilisation.

6. The Ministers took note of the convening of the First MSC-Mekong Meeting next week in Krabi, Thailand, following the successful experiences of the MSC.

7. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government of Singapore for organising the 11th MSC Meeting and the excellent arrangements made and hospitality provided.

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