Media Release of the 12th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution

23 September 2011, Bangkok, Thailand

1. Ministers responsible for the environment from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Singapore, Deputy Minister of the Environment from Indonesia and Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment from Thailand and the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community met at the Twelfth Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 23 September 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand.

2. The Ministers noted the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC’s) weather outlook that dry weather conditions are expected to continue until early October 2011. During this period, occasional extended dry spells could lead to increased occurrences of hotspots and transboundary smoke haze in the region. The MSC countries agreed to remain vigilant and be prepared for any occurrence of transboundary smoke haze from fires during the coming weeks.

3. The Ministers noted Indonesia’s revised national framework for fire suppression and mitigation in implementing its Plan of Action (PoA) in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution. Malaysia and Singapore reiterated their offers of assistance. Indonesia stated that it would like to leverage on its own capability before responding to the offers made by Malaysia and Singapore.

4. The Ministers also noted the enhanced and new efforts by Indonesia in implementing its Plan of Action (PoA) in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution, which include among others:

(i) Development of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for national prevention and control of forest and land fires

(ii) Mobilisation of Manggala Agni to suppress fires in Jambi, South Sumatera, Riau, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, West Java, Baluran National Park, Sebangau National Park, and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park

(iii) Strengthened law enforcement measures

(iv) Provision of budget for procurement of fire fighting equipment to Regencies/Cities

(v) Coordination meeting on land and forest fires and climate change impacts by Coordinating Minister of Social Welfare

(vi) Setting up of a working group for environmental disaster control under the Ministry of Environment’s Decree

(vii) Cloud seeding operation over South Sumatera, Jambi, Riau, and Central Kalimantan provinces (starting from 8 September 2011)

(viii) Zero burning campaign and socialization of laws on plantation, environment and forestry to relevant stakeholders

5. The Ministers acknowledged the successful completion of the Indonesia-Singapore collaboration in Jambi Province and the Indonesia-Malaysia collaboration in Riau Province. The Ministers noted that Malaysia and Singapore reiterated their offers to continue the collaborations. Indonesia welcomed the interest expressed by Malaysia and Singapore to continue with the collaboration and informed that this is being considered by the National Disaster Management Board.

6. The Ministers noted the progress on the implementation of the Strategic Review of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) Programmes and Activities adopted at the last MSC Meeting, which covers enhancing haze control management through early warning/monitoring, fire prevention and fire suppression, including refinement of the Fire Danger Rating System; enhancing bilateral collaboration and replication of bilateral projects, where appropriate; setting up of the Regional Haze Training Network with training courses offered by member states, and the organizing of the Second MSC Forum in Brunei Darussalam in early 2012. The Ministers agreed to further enhance the existing communication among member states, regional standby arrangements for fire suppression and standard operating procedures for joint emergency response in the region and strengthen further national and sub-regional fire mitigation actions.

7. The Ministers tasked the ASEAN Secretariat to play a more enhanced coordinating role amongst Member States in managing the transboundary haze, including monitoring, information dissemination, assessment and joint response more effectively.

8. The Ministers noted that the MSC on Transboundary Haze Pollution in the Mekong Sub-region (MSC Mekong) has endorsed and agreed to work towards a sub-regional target of cumulative hotspot count reduction; and that individual MSC Mekong countries set their respective national targets for hotspot count reduction in order to achieve the sub-regional targets. The Ministers also noted that the MSC Mekong expressed appreciation to Thailand for the cooperation with Lao PDR and Myanmar in providing the air quality monitoring stations and agreed to strengthen the capacity of MSC Mekong countries in fire and haze control.

9. The Ministers were briefed on Indonesia’s process of ratification of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. The Ministers expressed hope that the ratification could be expedited.

10. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government of Thailand for organising the 12th MSC Meeting and the excellent arrangements made and hospitality provided.

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