Brunei to host Europe-Asia eco workshop in 2009
By James Kon

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam announced in his titah at the 4th closed session of 7th ASEM yesterday that Brunei will organize a workshop in 2009 for young scientists from Asia and Europe to converge for ideas and experiences on environmental protection and conservation.

During the meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, His Majesty also expressed his appreciation over the efforts of ASEM members in promoting cultural exchanges and interfaith dialogue.

His Majesty attached importance in creating awareness and promoting exchanges amongst the youth on this topic as well as on other global challenges. Besides the fourth closed session, His Majesty also attended the second and third closed session in the morning.

According the Asem 7th website on new initiatives for ASEM 7, the workshop is on 'Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on the Biodiversity Tropical Rainforests'.

Prior to the 4th closed session, His Majesty also attended a working luncheon hosted by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao where leaders talked international and regional issues.

The 7th ASEM Summit ended with a closing ceremony presided by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. Asem leaders endorsed the chairman's statement, being a declaration on sustainable development and the statement of the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting on the international financial crisis. President Yves Leterme, Prime Minister of Belgium as the host country of the 8th ASEM Summit in 2010 also addressed the ceremony.

The endorsed chairman's statement include leaders reaffirming the strategic importance of ASEM, and recognised that Asia and Europe are closely related geographically, historically and culturally, share many common ideals, are complementary in economic and social development and rich in cultural diversity. They recognised the high expectations placed on ASEM by their peoples, and emphasized the need to further strengthen Asia-Europe dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equal partnership, mutual respect, mutual benefit, seeking common grounds while shelving differences and learning from each other, which will bring about development opportunities and tangible benefits to both regions and be conducive to peace, stability and development.

Other topics endorsed in the chairman's statement were promoting political dialogue, advancing economic cooperation, driving sustainable development and furthering social and cultural exchanges.

Among the endorsed statement on the international financial situation, leaders believed that authorities should demonstrate vision and resolution and take firm, decisive and effective measures in a responsible and timely manner to rise to the challenge of the crisis. Leaders expressed full confidence that the crisis could be overcome through such concerted efforts.

On the Beijing Declaration on sustainable development, the leaders of ASEM are willing to strengthen cooperation in a mutually beneficial manner and work towards a win-win solution so as to make positive contribution to sustainable development.

The leaders also reaffirm that the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Johannesburg targets underline international cooperation for sustainable development.

Other topics brought up in the declaration include climate changes and energy security and social cohesion.

Following the closing ceremony, His Majesty joined Premier Wen Jiabao, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, in a coordinator's press conference.

His Majesty then left Beijing in late afternoon. Before departure, a 'Doa Selamat' was read by Pehin Dato Seri Maharaja Datu Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Hj Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti. - Borneo Bulletin (26th Oct 2008)