10 nations in region to fight marine pollution jointly

TEN nations in the South-east Asian region will soon work together to keep their waters pollution-free.

Asean countries, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos will come up with an “action plan” to fight marine pollution, United Nations official Reza Amini told The Straits Times yesterday.

This could include streamlining legislation and adopting contingency plans among the 10 countries, said Dr Amini, who is the co-ordinator of the inter-governmental East Asian Seas Action Plan.

“No single country, project or UN organisation can resolve the environmental problems of the region. Countries have to work together and pool their resources,” he said.

The East Asian Action Plan was drawn up by Asean countries in 1981. Last July, senior Asean officials decided to invite other South-east Asian countries to take part in their efforts to combat marine pollution.

“I am confident that by the end of September this year, countries will come up with a plan to work together,” he said.

Scientists from the Asean countries will meet next month to iron out any difficulties in co-operation.

Senior officials from Asean and the other four countries will meet in September to revise the 1981 Action Plan, said Dr Amini, who is a delegate at the conference on sustainable development of coastal and ocean areas in South-east Asia.

Professor Tommy Koh, who heads the Institute of Policy Studies, noted that joint co-operation among the ten countries could lead to a “legally binding framework” among themselves.

South-east Asia, unlike many other parts of the world, did not have marine pollution rules to be applied on a regional basis, he said.

He said countries in the region also had to work together to conserve the seas’ living resources.

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