ASEAN environment ministers reaffirm Haze Monitoring System

Channel NewsAsia 25 Sep 2013;

SINGAPORE: Environment and Water Resources Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said his ASEAN counterparts have reaffirmed Singapore's recommendation for an ASEAN Haze Monitoring system to be implemented.

Dr Balakrishnan said this on his Facebook page on Wednesday at the end of the 14th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting of the Environment, and the 9th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (COP-9).

The meetings were held in Surabaya, Indonesia.

According to a statement issued by those at the meeting, the system will include digitised land-use maps and concession maps of haze prone regions. These will be shared on a government-to-government basis.

Dr Balakrishnan said the relevant countries have also agreed to take prompt action to address the issue of haze based on decisions to be made at next month's ASEAN Summit.

Singapore's Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said the ministers also agreed to set up a Task Force comprising experts on Fire and Haze Assessment and Coordination.

The panel of experts will review the existing alert levels and formulate trigger points.

The ministers also noted that many ASEAN Member States have contributed to the Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund, with the aim of realising a pledge of providing an initial seed contribution of US$500,000 for the fund.

Dr Balakrishnan also highlighted that a change in wind direction could potentially bring the haze from Sumatra to Singapore on Wednesday night.

He said his ministry will be monitoring the situation closely.