1. Ministers responsible for environment from ASEAN Member States met in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on the 8th October 2008 on the occasion of the 11th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment, and the 4th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. The Ministers also met their counterparts from the Peoples’ Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea at the 7th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting on 9 October 2008. The Ministers reviewed on-going programs on environment and discussed future cooperation to promote regional cooperation on environment.
2. The Ministers reviewed national, sub-regional and regional activities to address land and forest fires in the region and its associated transboundary haze pollution. The Ministers welcomed the substantive progress in the implementation of concrete on-the-ground activities, especially in the implementation of Indonesia’s Plan of Action, including bilateral collaboration between Malaysia and Indonesia in Riau Province and between Singapore and Indonesia in Jambi Province. The Ministers noted that the efforts by ASEAN Member States in preventing and controlling land and forest fires have helped to reduce transboundary haze pollution.
3. In the northern ASEAN region, with the transition to the Northeast Monsoon, the rainy season is expected to gradually ease and this may lead to escalation of hotspot activities towards the end of the year. For the southern ASEAN region, occasional hotspot activities can be expected in October 2008, however this might be subdued towards the end of the year with the onset of the rainy season. The ASEAN Member States pledged to remain vigilant and continuously monitor and implement preventive activities.
4. The Ministers noted that several ASEAN Member States have contributed to the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund towards realizing the pledge of providing an initial seed contribution of US$500,000 for the Fund. The Ministers discussed strategies to mobilise additional resources to the Haze Fund.
5. The Ministers welcomed the endorsement of the project on the Rehabilitation and Sustainable Use of Peatland Forests in Southeast Asia, by the Global Environment Facility. The Project which is expected to commence in 2009 will promote sustainable management and use of the fire-prone peatlands through capacity building, creating alternative livelihood activities, rehabilitation and conservation of important peatland sites, and public awareness and community participation, among others. The Ministers urged international and regional collaborative partnerships to support ASEAN’s initiatives in addressing land and forest fires, in particular the fire-prone peatlands.
6. The Ministers welcomed the efforts made to develop the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative as encouraged by the ASEAN Leaders at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore in 2007 and the proposed establishment of ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change to foster greater regional cooperation on climate change.
7. The Ministers presented for the first time the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City Award in Ha Noi, Viet Nam to ten cities/townships/districts in ASEAN that have made exemplary efforts towards environmental sustainability. The Ministers hoped that the Award will motivate other cities to share best practices and make greater efforts to achieve high standards of environmental sustainability.
8. The Ministers supported the “Cool ASEAN, Green Capitals Initiative” proposed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN to encourage efforts by the ASEAN capital cities and other major cities to mitigate climate change through addressing the everyday urban issues faced such as waste management, transportation, creating more green areas and conservation of energy. This initiative would be synergized and run in line with other related programmes such as the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities programme and other ASEAN working groups’ activities.
9. The Ministers noted the achievements made by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. The Ministers expressed appreciation for the substantial support of the European Commission for the Centre and urged continued support by the European Commission, and welcomed other partners to collaborate with the Centre.
10. The Ministers noted the publication of the “ASEAN Marine Water Quality Management Guidelines and Monitoring Manual” which would assist the relevant institutions in ASEAN to build their capacity for monitoring, measurement and analysis and work towards the long term goal of harmonizing marine water quality standards in ASEAN.
11. The Ministers also noted Viet Nam’s concept paper for setting up a centre for environmental education. The Ministers agreed that this is a useful initiative and tasked the Senior Officials to study the proposal further.
12. The ASEAN Ministers and their counterparts from the Peoples’ Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea exchanged views on global environmental issues and agreed to implement activities in specific areas such as biodiversity, climate change, environmental education, water resources management, promotion of environmentally sound technology and cleaner production, and solid waste and hazardous waste management.