Remarks by Director GEC on APFP Closing









Terima kasih Saudari Pengacara Majlis

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Sri Zoal Azha bin Yusof

Secretary General, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Yang Berbahagia Datuk Dr. Che Abdul Rahim bin Haji Nik

Deputy Secretary General (Environmental) Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Prof. Dr. Haji Abd. Rahman bin Haji Abd. Rahim.  Director-General of Forestry Peninsular Malaysia

State Forestry Directors

Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, Division Directors

Head of Federal and States Departments, and

Distinguished Guests,

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan

On behalf of ASEAN Peatland Forests Project (APFP) and the ASEAN Secretariat let me congratulate Malaysia on the organization of this seminar to signify the completion of the Malaysian Component of the APFP. Malaysia has been a very active and effective participant in the APFP since its initiation four years ago.  This event today is a key time to showcase some of the key outcomes and progress made.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

South East Asia has more than 60% of the world’s tropical peatlands covering about 25  million hectares. These peatlands are critical in regulating global climate, conserving biodiversity and sustaining water resources and local livelihoods. However many peatlands in the region are being affected by exploitation and unsustainable management practices. Large scale peatland drainage and conversion is responsible for much of the fires and transboundary haze which is one of the most serious regional environmental problems in ASEAN.

In June 2002, ASEAN member states signed the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary haze pollution (AATHP) here in Malaysia to establish the main coordinating mechanism to address transboundary haze. Recognising that management of peatlands was the key to addressing the Haze - The Malaysian Minister at the time Dato Law Hieng Ding – proposed the development of a special ASEAN Initiative on Haze.

Nine months later ASEAN member states established the ASEAN Peatland Management Initiative (APMI) to bring together, government, non government and research institutes to develop a strategy to enhance peatland management and prevention of peatland fires.

In November 2006 - ASEAN Member States  adopted the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (2006-2020) – or APMS and updated it in 2013 to provide guidance for collaborative action. In order to support the implementation of the APMS, the ASEAN Secretariat in partnership with the AMS developed the ASEAN peatland Forests project and secured funding from the Global Environment Facility through IFAD. A total of $4.2 million was provided from GEF matched with about $15 million from AMS and other sources. The APFP has five components – Regional, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Viet Nam. Subsequently, the Global Environment Centre (GEC) secured a further grant of Euro 1.7 million (US$2.5 million) for the SEApeat project to expand the scope of the APFP to all AMS and enhance the regional activities.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

The APFP was initiated in late 2009 and comes to a close in 2014.  Each participating AMS has made good progress and significant results have been achieved.  Each country has made progress at least one pilot site and also some additional demonstration sites. Progress had been made with national action plans,  enhancing capacity for peatland management, preventing peatland fires, engaging multiple government agencies and improving management of targeted sites. At regional level significant improvements have been made with the Peatland fire prediction and warning with the FDRS system strengthened and better promoted and guidelines and BMPs developed. Partnerships and exchanges with the private sector and local communities have also been enhanced and knowledge on peatlands improved.

Although good progress has been made through the APFP and SEApeat - , recent large scale trans-boundary haze events have indicated efforts need to be enhanced further. In September 2013, ASEAN Ministers responsible for the environment endorsed the establishment of  a long term multi-stakeholder Programme for the Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems (2014-2020)

The ASEAN Programme on SMPE 2014-2020, will support collaboration between different stakeholders (including government, private sector, communities and civil society) in the ASEAN Region to achieve the goal of the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS, 2006-2020), - namely: To promote sustainable management of peatlands in the ASEAN region through collective actions and enhanced cooperation, to support and sustain local livelihoods, reduce risk of fire and associated haze and contribute to global environment management.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

The Ministers of the 10 AMS endorsed six  Key targets for the Programme to be achieved by 2020 Conference of Parties of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze (AATHP)  Surabaya, September 2013 They are:

    All peatland areas in ASEAN identified and inventorised;
    Zero-burning is uniformly practiced  and controlled-burning only used in exceptional cases to prevent any uncontrolled wildfires on peatlands, and eliminate any widespread smoke haze;
    Fire prone sites are rehabilitated by focusing on root causes of fire,
    Peatlands are sustainably managed, sustainable livelihoods enhanced, and sustainable economic use mainstreamed;
    Peatlands are conserved to contribute to significantly reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and increased peatland biodiversity in the region;
    APMS and National Action Plans on peatlands are implemented; national and regional capacity is enhanced.

The ASEAN Secretariat in conjunction with the ASEAN Member States (AMS), with technical support from the Global Environment Centre, is currently in the process of elaborating the new Programme.

Preparatory meetings were held with AMS and more than 15  potential Partner organisations in December 2013 and April 2014.

Approximately US$250 million of ongoing and planned projects and activities have been identified by Member States and partners for inclusion in the Programme framework.

Organisations which are currently implementing or planning activities in the ASEAN region related to peatlands are encouraged to link their planned activities with the Programme.

Benefits of including projects and activities in the programme include:

•    Enhancing synergy and avoiding duplication of actions by different partners and countries

•    Sharing experiences and best practices

•    Linking and reporting progress to high level meetings of  ASEAN Member States

•    Scaling up action through collaborative action.

•    Joint mobilisation of resources

It has been agreed that the bulk of resources for implementing the programme should come from National investments from the AMS in line with their respective national Action plans on peatland.  To supplement this it is hoped that the international community will support the programme.  The European Union has committed in principle Euro 20 million and  potentially US$30 million could be drawn from GEF 6 resources (2014-2018).

Over the past few weeks a Malaysian multi-stakeholder group has identified RM250 million of priority activities for support under the Programme and initial discussions have been held with the European Union for support.  There will be a meeting of AMS and EU in Jakarta next week on 1-2 July, to discuss further options of EU support.   It is however clear that the majority of investments for peatland management in Malaysia will need to come from national sources. It will be important that all relevant agencies include Peatland related issues in their requests for funding in the remainder of RMK10 and RMK11.  The MNRE should play a key role in coordinating this process.

Yang Berbahagia Dato’- Dato’, Tuan-tuan and Puan-puan,

Finally we should recognize that this year we are facing significant challenges in peatland management as a result of the unprecedented dry weather.  Earlier this year we had 80 days without rain and as a result had the worst fire season ever with more than 2000 hotspots recorded in peninsular Malaysia between January-May – more than any other year on record.  Riau also had its worst fire season with more than 4000 hotspots – but fortunately the wind was blocking the smoke away from Malaysia.

However we will not be so lucky in the coming months. Currently almost all of Peninsular Malaysia is in High or Extreme Fire Danger with fires already burning in peatlands in southern Selangor. Hundreds of fires are burning in Sumatra and smoke from Sumatra has already reached Port Klang yesterday with the API reaching unhealthy levels.  We are expecting the El Nino this year with a predicted 20-40% reduction in rainfall in coming months.   I am happy to hear of the resources being made by MNRE and DOE for fire prevention  and control infrastructure – but it will be necessary for agencies at all levels to allocate resources and manpower for prevention and control measures at fire prone peatlands in the coming months.

Finally on behalf of the ASEAN Secretariat and GEC  I would like to thank the many agencies in Malaysia who have worked together to make the APFP a success as well as IFAD-GEF and EU who have contributed resources.  I look forward to hear the feedback today on the specific outputs and achievements.

I hope that the achievements of the first phase will provide a good foundation and partnership to scale up the efforts over the next 7 years to meet the Targets of the ASEAN programme on Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems.

Thank you very much.



Date: 23 June 2014


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