Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), established in 1967, is the leading regional institution in South East Asia.  It is composed of developing countries with no obligatory targets regarding the reduction of greenhouse gases—Brunei Darussalam, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Environmental problems in ASEAN countries include 'land resources and terrestrial ecosystems are under increasing stress due to growing population and extension of agricultural land into forest and other ecologically sensitive areas' and 'pollution due to accelerated industrialisation and urbanisation in ASEAN member countries', both of which affect climate.

Since 1977, ASEAN countries have worked together on a number of Sub-regional Environmental Programmes which were followed by the Strategic Plan of Action on the Environment, 1999–2004.

To address climate change and other environmental problems, ASEAN has put into practice the Vientiane Action Programme 2004–2010 (VAP), which incorporates the ASEAN Vision 2020 (Kuala Lumpur, 1997). In November 2007, the ASEAN members along with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand—at the third East Asian Summit—endorsed the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment, which affirmed their 'commitment to the UNFCCC and for relevant countries, the Kyoto Protocol', and listed specific measures to address climate change, including a 'post-2012 international climate change arrangement under the UNFCCC process'.

ASEAN has declared nine priority areas regarding the environment, some of which are directly relevant to climate change.

Global environmental issues

ASEAN has created the Working Group on Multilateral Environmental Agreements to help implement 'existing international instruments or agreements in the field of environment'.

ASEAN countries have signed the following Multilateral Environmental Agreements:

Coastal and marine environment

Thirty five per cent of the world's mangrove swamp habitats and around 30 per cent of the world's coral reefs are to be found along ASEAN's 173,000 kilometre coastline. Coastal and marine habitats are essential resources for ASEAN countries, acting for example, as coastal barriers and pollution filters. In addition to providing livelihoods and food, marine waters regulate climatic conditions and help maintain the complex ecological balance of coastal and marine ecosystems.

The VAP contains specific measures designed to enhance coordination at the national, regional and international levels for achieving sustainable development of ASEAN's coastal and marine environment. The expansion and implementation of ASEAN's Marine Water Quality Criteria is also a priority, along with implementation of the ASEAN criteria for Marine Heritage Areas, and National Marine Protected Areas respectively.

Promotion of environmentally sound technologies and cleaner production

Initiatives in this area are designed to be resource-conserving, produce less pollution, involve greater recycling of wastes and products, and promote the handling of residual wastes in a more environmentally friendly manner. In particular, the VAP contains specific program measures aimed at promoting business opportunities in environmental goods and services, through relevant environmentally sound technologies.

Sustainable management of biodiversity

Five key objectives have been identified in this regard:
  • more effective promotion of the conservation and sustainable development of diverse ecosystems
  • enhancing and boosting the capacity of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity
  • devising and adopting common mechanisms for access to genetic resources
  • greater emphasis on regional coordination to provide for the protection of ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves
  • implementing, monitoring and where relevant and significant, working to develop a common ASEAN position/approach on international and regional conventions and agreements, related to nature conservation, biodiversity and bio-safety issues.

Urban environmental management and governance

In order to meet the VAP's proposal for Clean Air, Clean Water and Clean Land, ASEAN developed a Regional Environmentally Sustainable Cities Programme (RESCP).

ASEAN participation in climate change related events

ASEAN countries have recently held or participated in the following climate change-related events:

  • The Thirteenth ASEAN Summit: 'Energy, Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development' (Singapore, November 2007).
  • Thirteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Third Meeting of the Parties (MOP) of the Kyoto Protocol (Bali, Indonesia, December 2007).
There has been no proposal to date by the ASEAN member states to adopt mandatory greenhouse gas reduction targets. However, they continue to receive assistance from Annex II countries in the form of clean energy technology and financial support to help them deal with the effects of global warming and climate change.

15 July, 2010

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