1. Environment Ministers and their representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand met at the Sixth Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 22 October 2008 in Phuket, Thailand.

2. The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) reported that with neutral conditions being forecast for the rest of the year and early 2009, rainfall is expected to be normal or slightly above normal in the ASEAN region over the next three months. Nevertheless, the Ministers agreed that the relevant national agencies shall remain vigilant and take all necessary proactive measures to prevent and mitigate land and forest fires.

3. The Ministers agreed that ASMC shall organize a workshop involving relevant experts and agencies to discuss on how to enhance the reporting of our weather and haze outlook. This will include simulation/modeling of haze transport and incorporating data on PM10 particulate matter which will be a useful indicator to track the extent of haze. Singapore will host the workshop in early 2009.

4. The Ministers appreciated Indonesia’s efforts in effectively implementing its Plan of Action (PoA) in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution and congratulated Indonesia for achieving its 50% hotspot reduction target as of mid October for 2008, compared to 2006. The Meeting also noted that while there has been an increase of hotspot activities in the region, there was no significant corresponding increase in transboundary haze in the region. This is attributed to the concerted mitigation actions taken to suppress the fires and wetter than normal weather conditions.

5. The Ministers noted several new actions taken by Indonesia to further enhance its efforts to prevent and mitigate land and forest fires, among others:

  1. securing commitment of all Governors in Sumatra to save ecosystem in Sumatra Island – agreed to by 10 governors and 4 ministers in Jakarta in September 2008;
  2. signing of MoU on estate crops pest control including fire control in plantations in the fire prone provinces; 
  3. hotspot monitoring;
  4. daily PM10 monitoring in Riau Province;
  5. burnt-scar mapping by Ministry of Forestry and LAPAN;
  6. close surveillance on business activities having big potential impact to the environment caused by land and forest fires;
  7. awareness campaign for land and forest fire control, zero-burning, community-based fire management in various fire-prone districts;
  8. capacity development of local institutions, including training of community fire brigades, establishment of a new operation region, and planning of a simulation exercise to be conducted in November 2008;
  9. enactment of Central Kalimantan Act no. 58/2008 regarding guidelines for  land clearing by community; and
  10. provision of technical assistance and incentives in the form of seedlings, equipment and herbicides to farmers practicing zero burning.

6. The Ministers noted further progress in the collaboration between the governments of Indonesia and Singapore for Muaro Jambi Regency in implementing several action programmes under the Jambi Master Plan. Indonesia and Singapore are currently finalising the necessary arrangements to implement 2 new action programmes namely capacity building for the aquaculture industry and sustainable peatland management.

7. The Ministers also noted further progress in the collaboration between the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia in Riau Province, following the signing of the MoU in June 2008. 3 new action programmes are scheduled to be implemented by the end of 2008, namely installation of an air quality monitoring station in Bagan Siapi-api, Rokan Hilir Regency; pilot projects on rehabilitation of degraded peatlands in Rokan Hilir Regency; and stakeholders’ seminar on zero burning techniques.

8. The Ministers expressed appreciation to Indonesia for their able leadership in steering the Ministerial Steering Committee for the past two years and for putting in place a framework and initiating substantive concrete actions for addressing land and forest fires. Malaysia takes over the chairmanship of the MSC for the next two years.

9. The Ministers are scheduled to meet again in April/May 2009 in Brunei Darussalam.