Environmental News Archive

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Finally, Asean Taking Serious Steps To Stop Haze

Sujadi Siswo
2 March 2007 (TODAY)

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Environment ministers from the Association of
South-east Asian Nations (Asean) have agreed to clean up their act to stop
haze from neighbouring countries polluting the region.

Singapore's plan to collaborate directly with a province in Jambi, Sumatra
to tackle forest fires has inspired the grouping to focus on such projects
with a view of replicating it in other areas in Indonesia.

Asean Environment Ministers have had regular meetings to discuss ways to
tackle the annual haze sparked by forest fires that has been plaguing the
region for the last 12 years.

Dozens of committees and task forces were formed but very little was

Forests, peat lands and plantations in Indonesia continue to be razed,
sending smoke annually into neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

Said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's Environment Minister: "To put it in
simple words, we need to clean-up our act and get things going.

"First of all, reduce the number of committees and meetings, focus on the
haze agreement, develop the work plan and start implementing things on the

This renewed sense of urgency has also seen Indonesia coming out with a
plan of action to tackle forest fires in its territories.

Jakarta is confident that its US$150 million-plan ($229 million) can halve
the incidence of forest fires this year.

But there are still obstacles ahead.

Indonesia and the Philippines has yet to ratify the Trans Boundary Haze

The Haze Fund has also not taken off, with most member countries saying
they are still considering making the voluntary contributions.

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