ASEAN begins voluntary contribution towards fund to fight haze

ASEAN begins voluntary contribution towards fund to fight haze

15 November 2006

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ASEAN — ASEAN’s efforts to involve other countries in tackling the region’s haze problem have received an early boost.

China, Japan and South Korea will join next month’s planned conference on fighting forest fires and haze pollution in the region.

As ministers from ten countries wrapped up an environment conference in the Philippines on Saturday, three ASEAN members have already put forward funding for a haze reduction programme.

A wide range of environmental issues were discussed by representatives from the 10 ASEAN countries during their two-day meeting in the resort island of Cebu in the Philippines.

Dialogue partners – China, Japan and South Korea – joined the grouping on the final day, to explore various areas of co-operation.

Among these areas are sustainable development projects and environmental law enforcements.

But the haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia, dominated the proceedings.

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, which bore the brunt of the haze this year, announced they were contributing US$50,000 each towards the proposed Haze Fund.

Brunei and Thailand have also expressed interest in contributing.

No target amount has been set for the voluntary fund, but observers say it is unlikely to reach US$60 million, which is the amount that Jakarta says is needed to fight the annual forest fires.

The trans-boundary haze pollution problem that has plagued parts of the region annually certainly has caught the attention of the rest of the ASEAN countries in this 2-day meeting.

The region’s efforts to garner international support and assistance also got a boost when its three dialogue partners indicated that they will participate in the international conference on forest fires and haze pollution in Indonesia next month.

Dr Amy Khor, Head of the Singapore Delegation, says: “I think they have the expertise, knowledge and resources to share with us in different areas. They are also looking into how they can help us tackle this haze problem.”

The conference will feature global environment experts and institutions.

Apart from providing direct assistance to Indonesia’s farming communities, ASEAN members are hopeful that contributions from funding institutions will help alleviate the problems caused by Indonesia’s forest fires.

This is all part of the Regional Action Plan endorsed by the group with the hope of overcoming the haze problem.

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