- DR. VONG SOK, // HEAD OF ENVIRONMENT DIVISION AND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AT THE ASEAN SECRETARIAT, // AND STAFF; //

- REPRESENTATIVES OF ASEAN PEATLAND PARTNERS FROM: // THE EUROPEAN UNION; // THE EMBASSY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY, // THE GIZ OR THE GERMAN AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, // THE INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT, // THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT CENTRE, // THE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY RESEARCH, // THE INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE, // AND THE WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE; //

- DELEGATES FROM ASEAN MEMBER STATES: // BRUNEI DARUSSALAM, // CAMBODIA, // INDONESIA, // LAO P-D-R, // MALAYSIA, // MYANMAR, // SINGAPORE, // THAILAND, // VIETNAM // AND THE PHILIPPINES; //

- OFFICIALS AND COLLEAGUES FROM THE BUREAU OF FIRE PROTECTION // AND DENR //

- LADIES AND GENTLEMEN //

 

GOOD DAY, // EVERYONE! //

ON BEHALF OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES // AND THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, // I WARMLY WELCOME ALL OF YOU TO THE 6TH MEETING OF THE ASEAN TASK FORCE ON PEATLANDS // AND THE 3RD PROGRAMME STEERING COMMITTEE MEETINGS OF THE ASEAN REGIONAL PROGRAMME AND PROJECT ON PEATLANDS. //

WE ARE HONORED TO HOST, // FOR THE SECOND TIME, // THE A-T-F-P REGIONAL MEETING. //

BACK IN 2003, // WE COMMITTED TO ADDRESS HAZE POLLUTION, // THROUGH THE ASEAN AGREEMENT ON TRANSBOUNDARY HAZE POLLUTION. // THAT WAS A MILESTONE IN OUR COLLECTIVE EFFORT TO RESPOND TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS BESETTING OUR REGION, // ESPECIALLY ONE WHICH IS TRANSBOUNDARY IN SCOPE. //

WE RECOGNIZED THAT THE PROTECTION OF PEATLANDS IS A CRUCIAL INTERVENTION IN PREVENTING HAZE POLLUTION, // AS WELL AS IN MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE. //

ALTHOUGH COVERING ONLY 3% OF THE EARTH’S LAND SURFACE, // PEATLANDS CAN STORE TWICE AS MUCH CARBON AS ALL OF THE EARTH’S FORESTS COMBINED, // IF PEATLANDS ARE KEPT IN THEIR NATURAL STATE. //

THERE ARE AROUND 27.4 MILLION HECTARES OF PEATLANDS IN THE ASEAN REGION. // THESE COMPRISE 56% OF GLOBAL TROPICAL PEATLANDS, // AND STORE AN ESTIMATED 68 BILLION TONS OF CARBON, // OR 14% OF THE CARBON STORED IN PEATLANDS GLOBALLY. //

THIS IS WHY PROTECTING PEATLANDS IN OUR REGION IS OF GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE. // KEEPING ASEAN PEATLANDS IN THEIR NATURAL STATE, // HOWEVER, // IS A GREAT CHALLENGE, // GIVEN POPULATION PRESSURES AND THE COMPETITION OVER THE USES OF LAND AND WATER RESOURCES THAT THEY GENERATE. //

IN ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE, // WE ADOPTED THE 2006-2020 ASEAN PEATLAND MANAGEMENT STRATEGY, // AS THE GUIDING FRAMEWORK IN PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF PEATLANDS // THROUGH COLLECTIVE ACTIONS AND ENHANCED COOPERATION // TO SUPPORT AND SUSTAIN LOCAL LIVELIHOODS, // AND REDUCE RISK OF FIRE AND ASSOCIATED HAZE. //

OUR REGIONAL COOPERATION WAS ENHANCED IN 2009 WITH THE CONVENING OF THE ASEAN TASK FORCE ON PEATLAND, // WHOSE MEMBERS, // WHO ARE WITH US TODAY, // REMAIN RESOLUTE IN FACILITATING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE A-P-M-S. //

ACCORDINGLY, // I COMMEND THE NATIONAL FOCAL POINTS OF THE ASEAN PEATLAND TASK FORCE // FOR THEIR DEDICATION IN IMPLEMENTING THE A-P-M-S. //

AS HOST OF THE A-T-F-P-6, // WE TAKE PRIDE IN PROVIDING THE TASK FORCE AND ITS CONSERVATION PARTNERS A VENUE FOR INFORMATION EXCHANGE // AND EXPLORING WAYS AND MEANS TO FURTHER ENHANCE EFFORTS IN THE PROTECTION, // CONSERVATION // AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF ASEAN PEATLANDS. //

WE HOPE THAT THE PROJECT STEERING COMMITTEE MEETINGS WILL BE ABLE TO ADDRESS ISSUES AND CHALLENGES // IN IMPLEMENTING REGIONAL PEATLAND PROGRAMS // SUCH AS THE MEKONG PEATLAND PROJECTS, // THE SUSTAINABLE USE OF PEATLAND, // HAZE MITIGATION, // AND MEASURABLE ACTIONS FOR HAZE-FREE SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. //

DESPITE THE CURRENT PANDEMIC THAT HINDERS US FROM DOING IN-PERSON MEETINGS, // I AM OPTIMISTIC THAT THROUGH THESE VIRTUAL SESSIONS // WE WILL BE ABLE TO CONCRETELY CHART THE WAY FORWARD // FOR OUR REGIONAL PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS IN PEATLAND MANAGEMENT. //

NOW, // MORE THAN EVER, // WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR PEATLANDS AS NATURAL DEFENDERS AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE. // LET US SEIZE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE AN IMPACT AND A DIFFERENCE FOR PEATLANDS. //

THANK YOU // AND MABUHAY! //