Philippines to host Asean environment ministers meeting

The Philippines will play host to an important meeting of senior environment officials representing the 10-member Association of Asean this month, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The Asean Senior Officials for Environment (Asoen) meeting, which will be chaired by the Lao PDR, will be held in Pasay City from July 23 to 29. Some 80 delegates are expected to attend annual meeting.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a statement that the meeting will focus on climate change and hopes to boost environmental cooperation in Southeast Asia.

Cimatu underscored the importance of the meeting to better manage the region’s natural wealth.

“Environment is transboundary 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,” he said.

The Asoen meeting is part of the Asean 2017 Summit which is being chaired by the Philippines. The theme of this year’s summit is “Asean 50: Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”.

SOEN is composed of Asean officials with the ranks of undersecretary, assistant secretary and director.

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 SOME, or 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 or Amme to be held in Brunei 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 Transboundary Haze Pollution to promote cooperative action to address the haze from forest fires in Indonesia, and the establishment of the Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in Los Baños, Laguna, which serves as the “center for excellence” for biodiversity in Southeast Asia.

The Asoen meeting coincides with the inauguration of the new ACB Headquarters in Laguna on July 29.  ACB is the only Asean center being hosted by the Philippines.

Executives of the DENR and the Department of Foreign Affairs, the ACB governing board—composed of Asean senior environment officials and ambassadors—and representatives of ACB partner agencies are expected to attend the inauguration.

ACB has been at the forefront of biodiversity and conservation in the region for the past decade.

Established in 1967, the Asean is composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR and the Philippines.