Five Southeast Asian countries mostaffected by choking smoke haze from Indonesian forest fires agreed on Saturdayto set up a fund to seek solutions to the problem and rehabilitate affectedareas.
This was one of the agreements reached atthe 10th Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment being held in the centralPhilippine city of Cebu.
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singaporeand Thailand agreed to create a committee to oversee the implementation ofconcrete actions to address the forest fires and the resulting haze.
The five are all members of theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations, which also groups Cambodia, Laos,Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam. The five countries also agreed to start ahaze fund to implement actions on the problem and to rehabilitate affected areas.
Indonesia and Singapore pledgedUS$50,000 each for the fund. The environment ministers of Brunei, Malaysia andThailand signed the agreement but said that their contributions to the fund werestill subject to the approval of their heads of state.
The other Asean members not affected bythe haze agreed to assist those facing the problem.
At the conference on Friday,neighbouring nations affected by choking smoke haze from Indonesian forest firesagreed to “adopt a fire-prone district” from the archipelago in a bidto cut the pollution.
Indonesian farmers bum forests annuallyto clear land for agriculture, causing a haze that spreads across Southeast Asiaduring the dry season, affecting tourism and increasing health problems.
Some 26 environment leaders from Aseanand dialogue partners Japan, China and South Korea attended the two-day meetingwhich opened on Friday to discuss a series of environmental issues.