By Sok Lak
Cambodia and other ASEAN members together on October 18, 2011 to signify co-operative measures amongst to address the problem of smoke haze in the region from land and forest fires and to tackle transboundary haze which ASEAN Member signed the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution on June 10, 2002 and enter force on November 25, 2003.
In the second meeting of the Conference of the parties (COP-2) to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution agreed to establish the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund (ASEAN Haze Fund) by provide an initial target amount of US$500,000 from the parties. At the same, it is also adopted the Financial Rules for the ASEAN Haze Fund and the Implementation Plan for the Operation of the ASEAN Haze Fund.
Mok Mareth, Minister of Environment, said that the agreement was one of the first regional arrangements in the world that binds a group of contiguous states to tackle tansboundary haze pollution resulting from land and forest fires. “It is also considered as role model for the tackling from land and forest fires, development of monitoring, assessment and early warning systems, exchange of information and technology and the provision of mutual assistance.”
However, despite enduring efforts, haze continues to plaque region annually. There is still much work to be done to eliminate haze all together. “The fires and the associated haze has adversely affected the natural environment and threatened the sustainable development and management of natural resources and biodiversity. We Cannot allow the environmental, economic and social damage caused by transboundary haze pollution to persist,” he added.
In recent years, various platform and initiatives have been developed to tackle the haze issue in individual member countries and in the region. Since 2006, the five ASEAN countries under the Sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution (MSC) on transboundary haze pollution, have collaborated closely and focused on local measures to tackles the fires.
Contributions of fund each have been received from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Name. As of 31 August 2011, the balance in the ASEAN Haze Fund is US$240,329.43.