Personal IntroductionHey there!I’m Dylan, and I’m currently doing my first year of IB at St. Joseph’s Institution International Malaysia. I started MUN back in 2015 when I lived in Saudi Arabia (yes I know, it’s an interesting place), and only recently joined the Malaysian MUN scene last year. I have delegated in various conferences, and this will be my first time chairing.
I hope that all of you delegates will enjoy ASEAN as it is a special committee where you get to discuss issues closer to home. To all newcomers, please don’t feel intimidated! MUN is a learning process, and there will be people to help you along the way. If you do have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Jack or myself (details below). I’m looking forward to seeing amazing debate on the floor and spending a memorable three days with all of you. E-mail: [email protected]
myWhatsapp: +60123818087Messenger: https://www.messenger.com/t/dylan.devIntroduction to Topic B: Reforming the Transboundary Haze AgreementThe ASEAN Agreement of Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) is an agreement signed and ratified by all the member states of ASEAN to mitigate the problem of haze pollution in the region. It was signed on 10 June 2002 and is legally binding, the first of its kind in ASEAN.
Haze pollution is generally caused by forest fires during the dry season. The fires are often caused by farmers and corporations using the slash-and-burn method to clear forest land. It is seen as one of the quickest and cheapest methods to clear land. After every fire, the land becomes even drier, making it more prone to future fires. Fires on peatland can be especially hard to extinguish as it can continue to burn underground and spread to other areas. Key TermsHaze – smoke resulting from land and/or forest fire which causes deleterious effects of such a nature as to endanger human health, harm living resources and ecosystems and material property and impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environmentTransboundary pollution – pollution that originates in one country but, by crossing the border through pathways of water or air, is able to cause damage to the environment in another countryPeat – partially carbonised vegetable tissue formed by partial decomposition in water of various plantsMember states – refers to the 10 member states of the ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, VietnamEffects of Haze Pollution in Southeast AsiaThe obvious effects of haze pollution include being a detriment to the health of the citizens of Southeast Asia and causing damage to wildlife and the environment. In the past schools have closed due to health concerns and entire cities have been virtually shut down as people were told to avoid the outdoors.
During the 2005 Southeast Asian haze, Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in parts of Kuala Lumpur reached hazardous levels of above 500. Healthy API readings are between 0-50.Besides this, haze pollution has detrimental effects on the economy of countries in the region as well. During the 2015 outbreak of the haze, Indonesia suffered losses of around 221 trillion Indonesian Rupiah (around US$16 billion). These costs include losses from the land burned (e.g.
palm oil plantations, etc.) and the impact on other factors such as trade, tourism, and transportation. Enforcement under the AgreementIn 2003, the Conference of Parties (COP) to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution was formed. It consists of ASEAN ministers of Environment from each member state that will oversee the implementation of the agreement, assisted by the Committee (COM) under the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. The establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control (ACC)The ASEAN secretariat currently serves as the interim ACC, which was established to facilitate cooperation and coordination with regards to managing the impact of the forest fires on haze in the region. ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) The ASMC monitors and assesses the haze that results from forest fires. It is based in Singapore. The establishment of sub-regional Ministerial Steering CommitteesTwo sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committees were established as there are two different regional dry seasons in the Southeast Asia:the sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Pollution (MSC) – Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singaporethe Sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution in the Mekong Sub-region (MSC Mekong) – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, VietnamBoth MSCs meet separately annually and are supported by respective technical working groups (TWG and TWG Mekong).
ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS)The APMS, under the ASEAN Peatland Management Initiative (APMI), serves to guide member states in the prevention of peatland fires covering the period of 2006-2020. Peat fires are one of the largest contributors to haze pollution, and as said before, can be especially hard to put out as the fire can continue to burn underground. According to ASEAN, over three million hectares of peatland have been destroyed in Southeast Asia due to fires.
The strategy focuses on the following four objectives: enhancing awareness and knowledge on peatlands addressing transboundary haze pollution and environmental degradationpromoting sustainable management of peatlandsenhancing and promote collective regional cooperation on peatland issuesASEAN Task Force on Peatlands (ATFP)The ATFP was established in September 2013. It assists the Committee (COM) under the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in implementing the APMS. Chart 1.1 – Flowchart of committees established under the AATHP ASEAN Haze FundAs part of the agreement, the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pollution Control Fund, also known as the ASEAN Haze Fund, was established. Each member state contributes to this fund that is used to support relevant prevention activities and emergency uses.
Timeline of EventsOctober 1972 – First record of transboundary haze (in Singapore)January 1992 – ASEAN heads of government address the issue of transboundary pollution, and sign the Singapore Declaration of 1992February 1992 – Singapore Resolution on Environment and Development issuedApril 1994 – Bandar Seri Begawan Resolution on Environment and Development issuedJuly 1995 – ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution established1997 – First major outbreak of transboundary haze pollution in Southeast Asia that devastated the region (known as the 1997 Southeast Asian haze)June 2002 – The ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution is signed December 2002 – Malaysia becomes the first member state to ratify the agreementApril 2004 – First meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Hanoi, VietnamSeptember 2014 – Indonesia becomes the final member state to ratify the agreementMajor issues within the topicEnvironmental protection versus industrial development and economic growth. According to the World Bank, eight of the ten member states are considered as ‘developing’ (except Brunei Darussalam and Singapore). As such, economic growth has always been prioritised over the environment. How can environmental protection be reinforced in ASEAN?The agreement is said to lack strong enforcement mechanisms for implementation and dispute resolution.
Despite the agreement being enforced, it hasn’t prevented future outbreaks of haze occurring multiple times since it was signed in 2002. This includes major outbreaks in the years 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2016.In a number of countries in the region, there are national laws in place that prevent the open burning of forest land, but these laws are rarely enforced.
Current situationDuring the latest dry season, which was late 2017, major haze pollution was only reported in Indonesia and it didn’t affect other neighbouring countries. Six provinces in Indonesia were declared states of emergency as a result of the haze. However, the issue remains. There is no guarantee that transboundary haze won’t return in the future.Relevance to the UNThe AATHP relates to the 12th and 13th sustainable development goals (SDG) of the United Nations, which are to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”, and “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. Past Precedence by the UN, ASEAN, and other relevant entities1990 Kuala Lumpur Accord on Environment and Development (ASEAN)1992 Singapore Declaration (ASEAN)1992 Singapore Resolution on Environment and Development (ASEAN)1994 Bandar Seri Begawan Resolution on Environment and Development (ASEAN)Possible courses of action/ Questions a Resolution Must AnswerWhat steps and measures should member states take to further enforce the agreement?Should the agreement be re-written in more detail?The accountability of the individual and/or corporation.
Should a transnational regional body be formed to prosecute those responsible for the illegal burning of forest land? Links for further researchThe full agreement: http://environment.asean.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ASEANAgreementonTransboundaryHazePollution.pdfASEAN Haze Action Online: http://haze.asean.org/asean-agreement-on-transboundary-haze-pollution/What causes South East Asia’s haze? – BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34265922Southeast Asia’s Haze Needs a Global Solution – The Diplomat: https://thediplomat.com/2016/12/southeast-asias-haze-needs-a-global-solution/Keeping Asean haze-free – New Straits Times: https://www.nst.com.my/news/2017/02/212814/keeping-asean-haze-freeHaze in Singapore: A problem dating back 40 years – The Straits Times (Web Archive): https://web.archive.org/web/20151002155636/http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/haze-in-singapore-a-problem-dating-back-40-years-agoThe Norms that Weren’t – ASEAN’s Shortcomings in Dealing with Transboundary Air Pollution – Stanford University: https://web.stanford.edu/group/journal/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Tan_SocSci_2005.pdf