ASEAN’s Sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution, comprising Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, reached a consensus agreement to step up cooperative efforts in order to effectively address the occurrence of transboundary haze pollution. The Ministers in attendance reaffirmed commitments to achieve a haze-free ASEAN by 2020 through the comprehensive Plan of Action (PoA).
The ministers noted substantial progress on the implementation of the Strategic Review of the Sub-Regional MSC Programs and Activities which includes: (i) enhancing haze control management through early warning/monitoring and fire prevention and suppression; (ii) refinement of the Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS); (iii) revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Monitoring, Assessment and Joint Emergency Response under the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, in which the Alert Levels, Trigger Points and Actions on Fire Prevention and Suppression were incorporated; (iv) bilateral collaboration in line with AATHP; and (v) capacity building of ASEAN Member States under the Regional Haze Training Network. The ministers further noted the likelihood of the warmer and drier conditions this year and therefore called for timely actions of national and local agencies to prevent land and/or forest fires and haze pollution arising from such fires.
At the national level, Malaysia is implementing the National Open Fire Action Plan, which is a joint-effort involving various ministries, departments and agencies at the Federal and state levels, as decided during the meeting of Environment Ministers and State Executive Council Members Responsible For Environment (Mexcoe) in Putrajaya on 2 August, 2019.
Since the late 90s, land clearing for agricultural uses via open burning primarily in Indonesia, has led to annual occurrences of transboundary haze in the ASEAN region. The ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, a legally binding Environmental agreement, was signed in 2002. It built on the 1995 ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution and the 1997 Regional Haze Action Plan.
(Sources: ASEAN Haze Action Online; ASEAN Secretariat The Malaysian Reserve; The Star)