Brunei undertakes commitment to environmental protection at 14th AMME

|     Azlan Othman     |

WITH Brunei Darussalam accounting for only a very small amount (0.016 per cent) of global greenhouse emissions, the Sultanate is prepared to play an active role in supporting the global effort to combat climate change.

This was highlighted by Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, the Deputy Minister of Develop-ment, who led the country’s delegation at the 14th Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment (14th AMME) yesterday, at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.

“We have already submitted our Intended Nationally Determined Contribu-tions (INDCs), as part of our commitment towards the global community,” he said.

“The policies and actions in our INDCs are aligned with our national development priorities and national circumstances. It includes policies and actions directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change.

“Brunei Darussalam aspires to accord its people with high-quality living. Enhancing climate resilience and adapting to climate change plays a major role in achieving this. For this, our INDC includes policies and actions to protect the biodiversity of our ecosystem, mitigate floods and safeguard our coastal area from erosion. Notably, although our existing protected forest cover constitutes almost half of its relatively small land area of 5,765 square kilometres, Brunei Darussalam plans to increase its forest coverage by 14 per cent,” he said.

Dato Seri Paduka Haji Awang Suhaimi also noted the country’s progress in environmental protection and awareness through various collaborations between the government sector, private organisa-tions and youth communities, including the ‘No Plastic Bag Weekend’ initiative.

“The ‘No Plastic Bag Weekend’ initiative promotes the use of reusable and biodegradable bags as one of the ways to minimise the use and, later, the disposal of plastic bags to the landfill,” he said. “This initiative engages a few big departmental stores, as the key players to impact the change. It runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and we are in the planning stage to add more days.

“The increase in excise duty of plastic products by three per cent, introduced by the Royal Customs and Excise Department on April 1, 2017, has complemented the national efforts to reduce plastics to be disposed of in our landfill.”

Through the Brunei Environment Youth Programme, the Sultanate achieved 10 per cent of its recycling rate target by 2015, and aims to meet a recycling rate of 15 per cent by 2020.

As the lead country for the Asean Working Group on Environmental Education for the term 2016-2019, along with its regional commitment to promote sustainable development through environmental education and public participation, Brunei has actively participated with other Asean member countries to develop several initiatives and plans of action, including those under the Asean Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP).