Thursday, September 28, 2023
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On green ground

James Kon

As the Sultanate strives to grow its economy and expand its industries, the policy on forest reservations particularly in the heart of Borneo will remain to be non-negotiable.

Brunei’s commitment towards protecting and conservation of the pristine forest of the country was shared by Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda bin Haji Abdul Rashid in his remark at the inaugural meeting of the United Kingdom (UK)-Brunei Climate Change Dialogue in Brunei Darussalam themed ‘Looking back to COP26 and forward to COP27 and beyond’.

The meeting was also led by British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe and the UK’s COP26 Regional Ambassador Ken O’Flaherty. Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda also highlighted, “One area that has been the focus now is to set up a centre of ASEAN Centre for Climate Change (ACCC) in Brunei Darussalam. Therefore, the efforts to build expertise in Brunei are important to us.”

The minister also said, “We are happy to announce several engagements from other counterparts especially from ASEAN have been received and have helped build our capacity and expertise at this centre in many aspects of climate change.

“We are honoured to have UK’s COP26 Regional Ambassador Ken O’Flaherty, here in Brunei to see the progress based on COP26 that occurred last year.”

Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda bin Haji Abdul Rashid in a group photo. PHOTO: BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION
Luagan Lalak Recreational Park. PHOTO: LIEW CHEE SHANG

“We are also very pleased to know that O’Flaherty witnessed the testimony of our forest preservation, the biggest asset of the Sultanate. With this initiative and the importance of climate change, we will continue to exhibit and later on develop strong policies.”

Meanwhile, Virgoe said, “It is fitting that we are meeting for our inaugural Climate Change Dialogue here in Brunei, a biodiversity hotspot, to talk about such a critically important topic.

“Last December, the UK and Brunei held its first strategic dialogue to discuss the priorities of our bilateral relationship. Climate change and biodiversity are one of these. I hope that this dialogue marks the start of close collaboration between our two countries in this area.”

He recognised and commended the Sultanate on the commitments given in Brunei’s national statement at COP26 last November and through the country’s national climate change policy of 10 strategies.

The UK-Brunei Darussalam Climate Change Dialogue marks the joint ambition of both countries on tackling climate change.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Muhammad Juanda and O’Flaherty praised the strength of the UK-Brunei relationship and looked forward to further collaboration on tackling climate change and translating the COP26 commitments into meaningful action.

O’ Flaherty also expressed gratitude for the warm welcome adding that, “Brunei Darussalam has an enviable environmental record with over 70 per cent of protected rainforest, with its rich biodiversity and air quality that is among the world’s cleanest.

“It is a good place to be in but there is always more that can be done both here and around the ASEAN region. In my travels around the region, I have seen first-hand how vulnerable it is to climate change, and how the effects of climate change can impact the lives of the people living here.”

He noted that the government’s action is important in tackling climate change, including cooperation among governments.

“All sectors of society must drive climate action.

“The UK’s experience shows that governments and businesses must act hand in hand to deliver net zero and grow the economy.

“To achieve these goals, business and civil society, including youth and indigenous communities, must be included in the conversation, mobilised to act and supported with forward-looking policies and government backing,” he said.

According to the British High Commission in Brunei Darussalam, the dialogue followed after a meeting with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and UK’s former prime minister Boris Johnson, on December 2, 2021, where they agreed to the launch of the first UK-Brunei strategic dialogue.

One of the key areas of cooperation agreed upon at the session was tackling climate change, including through an annual high-level bilateral dialogue.

At the annual United Nations COP26, O’Flaherty welcomed ASEAN’s ambitious commitments on climate action, coal and forests and looked forward to further collaborating with ASEAN members on the Glasgow Climate Pact and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Brunei Darussalam previously announced at COP26 that it is moving towards net zero by 2050; signing up to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use and endorsing the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement.

Also attending the dialogue from the Brunei government were Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Development Dr Nor Imtihan binti Haji Abdul Razak, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate and Law) at the Ministry of Development Aldila binti Haji Mohamad Salleh and other government officials.

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