By Genalyn Kabiling
NONTHABURI, Thailand – Expressing “grave concern” about the impact of climate change, the Southeast Asian bloc appealed to industrialized countries to meet their pre-2020 mitigation targets and scale up climate finance.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued the call to the developed nations to step up carbon-cutting efforts in a joint statement during the summit plenary last Saturday.
“We call upon developed country Parties to fulfill their existing mitigation commitments and enhance mitigation ambitions during the pre-2020 period,” the regional leaders said.
The developed nations must also “fulfill their financial support commitment of $100 billion per year by 2020” to support the implementation of adaptation and mitigation actions by ASEAN member-states and other developing countries.
Developed nations were also called upon to support developing nations on technology development and transfer, scientific research, and capacity-building as stated in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris agreement on climate change.
The Southeast Asian leaders renewed their commitment to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, particularly on implementing measures to address climate change.
Among the ASEAN initiatives are promoting sustainable management of the forests, enhancing biodiversity conservation and protection of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems, launching a regional strategy on sustainable land transportation, and improving resilience to climate and disaster risks.
They also committed to achieve 21.9 percent reduction in energy intensity compared to 2005 levels, exceeding the 2020 target set by the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2016 – 2025.
To the UNFCCC parties, the regional group called for improvement on their mitigation and adaptation actions, including implementing their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and moving towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
They should also adopt an intergenerational approach to climate action sensitive to gender considerations and vulnerable groups as well as promote and enhance the science on interlinkages between climate change, land, and ocean.
On the Green Climate Fund, the developed countries were urged “to honor their commitments and to scale-up their contributions by providing adequate and predictable climate finance.”
For his part President Duterte sought intensified regional cooperation in protecting the environment and fighting pollution in the ocean.
“ASEAN should not sacrifice the environment and the region’s rich biodiversity, particularly in the maritime domain, in its quest for progress,” a statement issued by Malacañng stated, quoting the President.
Duterte asked the regional group to enhance collaboration to prevent and reduce marine debris.
“We must work together to address the problem of marine debris. And we must build resilient and stronger communities to adapt to the effects of climate change,” he said.
While protecting the environment, Duterte said the ASEAN must also support economic sectors of high productivity and follow sustainable business practices.
Back in June, the ASEAN member-states forged a declaration on combating marine debris in the region. At the first round of the ASEAN summit then, the leaders agreed to strengthen national laws and enhance cooperation to fight against plastic pollution in the ocean.
The regional bloc includes the Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand which were previously tagged by environmentalists as among the world’s top plastic polluters in the ocean.
ASEAN also agreed to boost efforts, including legal frameworks and law enforcement, to protect children from all forms of online exploitation and abuse.
The regional leaders signed the declaration to keep children safe amid the digital age following their plenary summit in Thailand.
“The rapid advances in and proliferation of Internet and evolving communications technologies have led to the emergence of unforeseen and unintended consequences that put children’s safety at risk and will likely continue to do so,” the leaders said in the declaration.
They have expressed concern with the global threats that make more children vulnerable to online sexual abuse material and other forms of online exploitation.
The ASEAN leaders have committed to promote, develop, and implement comprehensive national legal frameworks and work towards improving child protection standards and policies against online exploration and abuse.
They also pledged to enhance law enforcement, judicial and legal professional capabilities through regular, relevant and updated trainings and sharing and exchange of best practices in the protection of children.
A national specialized unit will also be established to lead, support and coordinate investigations on online abuse of children.
The regional leaders also committed to increase effectiveness of rights-based and gender-responsive child protection and support services, social welfare programs.
Data collection and monitoring, reporting and referral mechanisms, through hotlines to report suspected illegal online materials will also be strengthened.
The leaders have likewise agreed to promote a national education program and school curricula to raise awareness of sexual, and other forms of exploitation of children to empower children, young people, parents, guardians, caregivers, practitioners and community.
The private sector and other relevant stakeholders will also be mobilized to help in the “monitoring prevention and response measures through regulations, corporate social responsibility, and collaboration for the development of effective measures to detect, take down and report illegal content related to child sexual abuse and exploitation.”
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