Brunei schools, youth acknowledged for role in raising environmental awareness

James Kon

Recognition has been awarded to schools and youth in Brunei Darussalam for their exemplary efforts in inculcating environmental awareness.

Muda Hashim Tutong Primary School received the ASEAN Eco-Schools Award for the primary school category, while Sayyidina Abu Bakar Secondary School was awarded in the secondary school category.

Amal Afifah binti Haji Rusali and Liaw Lin Ji both received the 1st ASEAN Youth Eco-Champions Award for the junior and senior categories respectively, at the 3rd ASEAN Eco-Schools Award presentation held at the dinner reception for the 15th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

The 15th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia from October 8-9.

Brunei was represented by Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, Permanent Secretary (Planning, Land Use and Environment) at the Ministry of Development Dr Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak and officials from the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation.

Also present at the official opening ceremony of the meeting was Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Cambodia Pengiran Kasmirhan bin Pengiran Haji Tahir.

Ministers responsible for the environment (land, forest fires and haze) from ASEAN member states (AMS) attended the meeting following the official opening ceremony.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance of Cambodia Dr Aun Pornmoniroth delivered the welcoming speech. Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi and Minister of Environment of Cambodia Say Samal also delivered speeches.

Following the meetings which provided an additional opportunity to promote and strengthen the role of youth as champions of the region in environmental protection and conservation, the ministers acknowledged the achievements and progress of regional environmental protection and cooperation on a number of environmental issues, in particular prioritised actions and initiatives taken on environmental sustainability to further promote environmental cooperation in the region.

The ministers discussed, among others, key cross-cutting and emerging environmental issues which include climate change, marine debris pollution, environmentally sustainable cities and circular economy that remain a challenge – and requires regional and international collective action; the finalisation of the of the ASEAN Strategic Plan on Environment (ASPEN); and post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar and Permanent Secretary (Planning, Land Use and Environment) at the Ministry of Development Dr Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak with senior officers of Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation at the meeting. PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF DEVELOPMENT
Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi and Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi with the recipients of the 3rd ASEAN Eco-Schools Award and 1st ASEAN Youth Eco-Champions Award

The ministers noted that the ASEAN joint statement to the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit 2019 was conveyed at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 on September 23, 2019 in New York. The ministers look forward to a successful outcome of the 25th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will take place on December 2-13 in Santiago, Chile, including the convening of an ASEAN event under the Indonesia and Thailand pavilions on the sideline of the COP25.

The ministers endorsed the ASEAN joint statement on Climate Change to COP25 to UNFCCC for consideration by the leaders.

The ministers also recognised the high and rapidly increasing levels of marine debris, and reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN region and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris.

They noted the progress of implementation of marine-debris related initiatives, including, the inception of the ASEAN-Norwegian Cooperation Project on Local Capacity Building for Reducing Plastic Pollution in the ASEAN region, the ASEAN-Japan Project on Strengthening Capacity for Marine Debris Reduction in ASEAN region, the ASEAN-EU Partnership on Circular Economy, and the ASEAN-World Bank PROBLUE Project on Marine Debris.

The ministers presented, for the third time, the ASEAN Eco-Schools Award, to selected eco-schools in AMS, and for the first time, the ASEAN Youth Eco-champions Award to selected youth individuals from AMS on the occasion of the ASEAN Environment Day 2019.

Through the award programmes, the ministers acknowledged the exemplary efforts by schools and youths in inculcating environmental awareness to their surrounding communities and in advocating sustainable development in the region.

The ministers further recognised youth participation at the ASEAN Plus Three Youth Environment Forum (AYEF) 2019 in Phuket, Thailand from September 8-13,

The ministers also discussed the review of the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP), the updates on the establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control (ACC THPC), and the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS 2006-2020) through the ASEAN Programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems (APSMPE 2014-2020).

The ministers also expressed concern over the severity and geographical spread of the recent smoke haze affecting various ASEAN member countries (in the northern and southern parts of ASEAN). Expressing sympathy to the millions affected by the haze, the ministers appreciated the efforts undertaken by ASEAN member countries, and the offers of assistance by countries to address the forest fires and the associated smoke haze.

The ministers noted the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC’s) weather outlook has been drier than normal over parts of the southern ASEAN region this year. The ASMC forecast the prevailing neutral (neither El-Niño nor La-Niña) conditions to persist, and that drier than normal conditions were expected over some areas in the ASEAN region, particularly in the southern ASEAN region, but a return to near normal conditions was expected by December.

The ASMC also forecast warmer than normal conditions over the ASEAN region. AMS pledged to remain vigilant and to monitor and step up their haze preventive efforts to minimise any possible occurrence of transboundary smoke haze during periods of drier weather.

The ministers also reaffirmed their commitment through concerted national efforts and regional cooperation to effectively implement the AATHP and the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation to achieve a Haze-Free ASEAN by 2020.

They commended the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution in reaffirming their readiness to provide assistance such as deployment of the technical resources for firefighting assistance on emergency response situation, if requested, and to collaborate among MSC countries with enhanced cooperation and coordination to mitigate land and forest fires, when necessary.

The ministers appreciate the sharing of hotspot information among MSC countries and supported the call for timely actions of national and local agencies to prevent land and/or forest fires and haze pollution arising from such fires.

The ministers met their counterparts from Japan and Plus Three countries (China, Japan and Korea) at the ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Dialogue on Environmental Cooperation and the 16th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting respectively on October 9, to review current activities and discuss future strategic cooperation in areas of biodiversity, climate change, environmental education, environmental science and technology, and environmentally sustainable cities, amongst others.

The ministers agreed to meet again in the Philippines in 2020 on the occasion of the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, and in Indonesia in 2021 on the occasion of the 16th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment, and 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.