The 16th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution were held on 21–22 October 2021 via video conference hosted by Indonesia.

The Meetings acknowledged the achievements and progress of regional cooperation efforts on a number of environmental issues.

The Meetings agreed to have an ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP26).

The Meetings also noted the launching of the ASEAN State of Climate Change Report on 7 October 2021, which was published to contribute to the global stocktaking exercise under the Paris Agreement and assess collective progress towards achieving its long-term goals. The Meetings looked forward to a successful UNFCCC COP 26, scheduled to be held on 31 October–12 November 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

The Meetings endorsed in principle Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN 2021 chairmanship initiatives of establishing the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change in Brunei Darussalam and the ASEAN Youth Climate Action (ASEANYouCAN). The Meetings looked forward to accelerating climate research, development, coordination and cooperation on climate change among ASEAN Member States and its Partners.

The Meetings commended the recognition of youth as an essential partner in the fight against climate change and welcomed the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on ASEAN Youth for Climate Action, as a call from the ASEANYouCAN youth delegates for a strengthened regional climate action.

The Meetings recognised the high and rapidly increasing levels of marine debris, and reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris.

The Meetings commended the adoption and launching of the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Combating Marine Debris in AMS on 28 May 2021. The Meetings further noted the progress of implementation of marine-debris related projects and initiatives and welcome stronger cooperation with partners.

The Meetings noted the adoption of the ASEAN Joint Statement to the 15th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15), which was delivered by Brunei Darussalam, as ASEAN Chair, during the High-Level Segment of the CBD COP 15 held virtually in Kunming, China (pending delivery). The Meetings also looked forward to the adoption of renewed targets under the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, with special emphasis on promoting nature-based solutions in line with global and regional post-pandemic recovery efforts.

The Meetings commended the adoption of the ASEAN Joint Statement on Chemicals and Waste to the 2021 Meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions. The Meetings reiterated ASEAN’s commitment to effectively manage hazardous chemicals and waste and reduce wastes through the 3Rs and circular economy principles.The Meetings further called for closer regional collaboration to build local capacities, support transfer of technology, share information and best practices, and strengthen technical cooperation on managing hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The Meetings noted the progress in implementing the ASEAN-Mekong River Commission (MRC) Cooperation Framework adopted in 2018, and noted the successful conduct of the inaugural ASEAN-MRC Water Security Dialogue on 19–20 August 2021. The two-day hybrid event allowed technical exchanges among AMS on innovative solutions and best practices on key water security issues, including water access, sanitation and pollution, and water-related disasters.
The Meetings presented the 5th ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) Awards and 4th ASEAN Certificates of Recognition for Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean Land, to selected cities in the AMS. The Minister commended the laudable programmes and initiatives of the city awardees and encouraged other ASEAN cities to learn from these best practices and adopt more sustainable environmental practices.

The Meetings recognised that collective regional actions are still needed to address cross-cutting environmental issues, such as marine debris pollution, sustainable consumption and production (SCP), and circular economy. The Meetings welcomed the ASEAN SCP Framework, which outlines key priorities to adopt measures and support progress in SDG 12, promote sustainable food systems, establish good practices for green products and procurement, and promote sustainable lifestyles in urban and rural settings.

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