By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Philippines will be hosting an important gathering of senior environment officials from the 10 members of the Association Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss climate change and environmental cooperation in the region.
About 80 delegates will be hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the 28th annual meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials for Environment (ASOEN) to be held in Pasay City from July 23 to 29.
The meeting will be chaired by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR).
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the meeting will “critical” among the ASEAN members to better manage the region’s environment and natural resources.
“Environment is trans-boundary in nature. As neighbors, we share the air that we breathe, the seas around us and the animals that travel across our borders. ASEAN and cooperative arrangements among its members are critical if we are to better manage our environment and natural resources,” Cimatu said.
The ASOEN meeting is part of the ASEAN 2017 Summit, which is being chaired by the Philippines, with the theme “ASEAN 50: Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”
Among the highlights of the meeting are the consultation on the draft ASEAN joint statement on climate change and the holding of the 11th ASEAN-Japan Dialogue on Environmental Cooperation.
The group will also hold a joint dialogue with senior environment officials of the Republic of Korea, China and Japan during the ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on Environment.
The three countries have provided support for various environment initiatives in Southeast Asia, particularly in the implementation of the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) policy.
They also provided training courses to enhance the region’s environmental protection capacity.
The ASOEN meeting is in preparation for the high-level ASEAN Ministers’ Meeting on the Environment (AMME) to be held in Brunei Darussalam in September.
The AMME meeting aims to promote ASEAN environmental cooperation and ensure enforcement of environmental decisions made by each head of government.
Among the agreements the ASEAN Ministers of the Environment had concluded in earlier meetings include the Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution to promote cooperative action to address the haze from forest fires in Indonesia, and the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity in Los Baños, Laguna, which serves as the “center for excellence” for biodiversity in Southeast Asia.
Established in 1967, the ASEAN is presently composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and the Philippines.