The ASEAN region is endowed with rich natural resources that sustain essential life support systems both for the region and the world. Apart from providing water, food and energy, these natural resources play an important role in sustaining a wide range of economic activities and livelihoods.
The region, however, is confronted by immense environmental degradation due to increased population, rapid economic growth, combined with the existing and region-wide social inequities among the ASEAN countries, which has also led to increased consumption of resources and generation of waste, resulting in unsustainable development. Therefore, despite an abundance of natural resources, ASEAN, as elsewhere, is facing an enormous challenge in keeping a delicate balance of environmental sustainability and economic development.
Recognising the importance of environmental cooperation for sustainable development and regional integration, ASEAN has since 1977 cooperated closely in promoting environmental cooperation among its member states. ASEAN cooperation on environment is currently guided by the ASCC Blueprint 2025 which envisions ‘an ASEAN Community that engages and benefits the peoples and is inclusive, sustainable, resilient, and dynamic’. Guided by the Vision, the ASEAN cooperation on environment particularly focuses on the following key result areas under the characteristic ‘Sustainable’ of the ASCC Blueprint 2025.
- Conservation and Sustainable Management of Biodiversity and Natural Resources
- Environmentally Sustainable Cities
- Sustainable Climate
- Sustainable Consumption and Production
An ASEAN strategic plan on environment is currently being developed to translate the ASCC Blueprint 2025 into a more detailed plan of actions which shall serve as a guiding document for ASEAN cooperation on environment until 2025. Seven strategic priorities have been identified under the strategic plan:
- Nature conservation and biodiversity
- Coastal and marine environment
- Water resources management
- Environmentally sustainable cities
- Climate change
- Chemicals and waste
- Environmental education and sustainable consumption and production
The institutional framework of the ASEAN cooperation on environment consists of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment (AMME), ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN), and 7 subsidiary bodies / working groups, following the identified strategic priorities:
ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC),
ASEAN Working Group on Chemicals and Waste (AWGCW)
ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME)
ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education (AWGEE)
ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESC),
ASEAN Working Group on Natural Resources and Biodiversity (AWGNCB)
ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM).
AMME meets once every two years, while ASOEN and its subsidiary bodies meet once every year to oversee the implementation of ASPEN and the ASCC Blueprint 2025.
As environmental issues are multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral in nature, strong coordination, collaboration, and communication among AMS, both within the environment sector and among relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, and with dialogue / development partners, are critical.
Environmental issues are addressed not only by ASOEN and its subsidiary bodies, but also by other relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies such as those overseeing the issues of forestry and agriculture, transport and energy, tourism, education, youth, health, social welfare, and disaster management.
ASEAN has also been working closely with various dialogue and development partners in promoting environmental protection and sustainable development.
For further information, media releases, action plans, statements and publications related to ASEAN cooperation on environment, please visit https://environment.asean.org