1. Environment Ministers from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and representatives from Thailand and the ASEAN Secretariat met at the Tenth Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 29 July 2010 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
2. The Ministers noted that based on the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) forecast the dry weather condition is expected in August and September 2010. Normal to above normal rainfall is expected to occur because of the high likelihood of La Niña during that period. The Ministers also noted that the traditional land clearing and replanting normally occurs during this period which may lead to escalation of fires during extended dry periods. The MSC countries agreed to remain vigilant for any possible occurrence of fires during the dry days in the coming months.
3. The Ministers noted that the Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS) which provides assessment of ignition potential, occurrence, and spread of fires based on weather, fuel and soil conditions is a very useful tool to undertake monitoring and preventive actions to address the outbreak of fires. The Ministers also noted it is possible to provide early warning of fire danger rating if there is a reliable forecast of the weather and wind conditions. The Ministers agreed to encourage and support the further development and refinement of the FDRS and urged all relevant agencies in ASEAN Member States (AMS) and ASMC to collaborate on this effort. The FDRS will be a useful complement to the weather and hotspot monitoring being done by ASMC.
4. The Ministers expressed appreciation to Indonesia for their enhanced and new efforts in implementing its Plan of Action (PoA) in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution, which include among others:
Revised targets of hotspot reduction by 20% annually based on the 2006 data, beginning in 2010;
Direct local governments to stay alert for any escalation of hotspots;
Socialize the new action plan to the fire-prone provinces and direct the provinces to formulate their provincial level action plans;
Undertake continuous campaign to educate the public on the prevention and mitigation of fires; and
Provision of new fire suppression equipment for Manggala Agni Brigades, especially in eight fire-prone provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
5. The Ministers noted the successful completion of eight action programmes under the Indonesia-Singapore collaboration in Jambi Province thus far. The Ministry of Environment of Indonesia thanked Singapore for its assistance.
6. The Ministers noted the successful implementation of the Indonesia-Malaysia collaboration in Riau Province thus far. Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to continue the collaboration in Riau Province and the detailed proposal will be submitted by Indonesia in due course.
7. The Ministers noted the several substantive and on-the-ground concrete activities undertaken by the AMS in the southern part of the ASEAN Region since the establishment of the MSC framework in 2006. In particular, the Ministers recognised that the fire and haze situation has been under control since the severe episode of 2006 which led to the establishment of the MSC framework. Several innovative actions such as formulation and implementation of Indonesia’s Plan of Action, and Indonesia’s collaboration with Malaysia and Singapore in the provinces of Riau and Jambi respectively have been successfully implemented.
8. The Ministers agreed to undertake a strategic review of the MSC framework and its activities with a view to further improve the mechanism and to draw out successful lessons that could be shared with other sub-regions and ASEAN in general. The outcome of the review will be further discussed at the next MSC meeting in Singapore tentatively in February 2011.
9. The Ministers expressed satisfaction on the progress of the GEF/IFAD project on integrated management of peatlands. The Project aims to promote the sustainable management of peatlands in Southeast Asia to sustain local livelihoods, reduce the risk of fires and associated haze and contribute to global environmental management. The Ministers noted that the institutional, management and administrative arrangements have been put in place to implement activities at the regional level and at peatland pilot sites in several AMS. The Ministers noted the development of the Peatland Fire Prediction and Warning System, proposed publication of ASEAN Peatland Profiles, proposed activities on inventory and measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from peatland, and carbon financing for sustainable peatlands management.
10. The Ministers agreed that Singapore will assume the chairmanship of the MSC for the next two years. The Ministers expressed appreciation to Malaysia for their able leadership and stewardship of the MSC meetings since 2008. The Ministers are scheduled to meet again in Singapore in February 2011.
11. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government of Malaysia and the State Government of Sarawak for organising the 10th MSC Meeting and the excellent arrangements made and hospitality provided.