Although there has been no severe transboundary haze pollution from land and forest fires this year, ASEAN member countries should remain vigilant to the potential occurrence in the coming period, warned the ASEAN Environment Ministers.
According to a statement released on Thursday after the conclusion of the 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, the Ministers urged ASEAN member states to remain vigilant and continuously monitor and step up their haze preventive efforts to minimize any possible occurrence of transboundary haze from land and forest fires during periods of drier weather.
"We appreciate the continuous efforts made by the respective ASEAN member countries in their roles which contribute to addressing the issues of land and forest fires in the region, towards ensuring an ASEAN haze-free region by 2020," said Haji Bahrin, Brunei's Minister of Development.
"I am confident that if we step up our efforts and work together, we will be better able to collectively address and contain the problem," he told Xinhua on the sidelines of the meetings.
In the statement, the ministers reaffirmed their commitment through concerted national efforts and regional cooperation to fully and effectively implement the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (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 also underscored the importance of stepping up technical cooperation to effectively implement the AATHP and the roadmap in their entirety to increase the preparedness for and to mitigate the risks to human health and the environment arising from haze pollution.