Asean capitals sign declaration pledging commitment to environmental sustainability

Adrian Lim Straits Times 7 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - Mayors and governors from Asean capitals on Saturday (July 7) pledged their commitment to take ownership in building a sustainable environment in their respective cities.

They inked a Singapore Declaration on environmental sustainability during the closing of a three-day meeting held in the Republic.

The 6th Meeting of Governors/Mayors of Asean Capitals (MGMAC) was attended by over 40 delegates from the 10 Asean nations. MGMAC was started in 2013 by then-Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo as a platform for mayors and governors to discuss topics relating to the development of their capital cities, and to strengthen links between them.

As Asean chairman this year, Singapore hosted the meeting, during which the delegates exchanged ideas and shared best practices on environmental issues.

"Our cities share many common challenges, for instance - climate change, urbanisation, and sustainability. To overcome these, we need the collective action and support of all in society, from individuals to businesses, and across government and civic organisations," said Singapore's Chairman of Mayors' Committee and Mayor of South West District, Ms Low Yen Ling.

Ms Low, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Manpower and Education, said the meeting will help to "open new doors of collaboration and solutions for Asean capitals".

In a speech before the signing of the declaration at Parliament House, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said there is urgency for Asean national, provincial and city governments to take action against climate change.

He cited an assessment by HSBC in March this year which said that five out of 10 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change are in South Asia and South-east Asia.

Mr Masagos said: "There is much that we can do to build resilience against environmental innovate and seize opportunities for green growth."

"By working together, we will become a more dynamic and connected community, and ensure that Asean remains united and resilient," he added.

During the three-day meeting, the Asean delegates visited Marina Barrage and Bukit Panjang Community Club, which achieved a Green Mark Gold Plus certification awarded by the Building and Construction Authority.

They also met with Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and paid a courtesy call to Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.

On the regional level, Singapore has been working with its South-east Asian neighbours to fight climate change, such as through the Asean Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2016-2025.

Under the plan, countries, for example, will seek to reduce energy intensity in the Asean region by 20 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

On July 10, Singapore will also host a Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action.