BIMP-EAGA has key role to safeguard environment

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday said the issue of climate change continues to be a global concern, particularly in light of the recent natural disasters in the region.

The monarch pointed out that Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) had an important role to play in ensuring that its environment remained safe, especially as it boasts two of the most diverse ecological areas in the world: the Heart of Borneo, and the Coral Triangle regions.

For that reason, His Majesty offered to host a conference on the Heart of Borneo and Coral Triangle Initiatives to look into possible ways for the two initiatives to support global efforts to mitigate climate change, as well as to ensure that the economy and the people would benefit from safeguarding the eco-systems.

His Majesty said these at the 6th BIMP-EAGA Summit as the curtains came down on the 15th Asean Summit in the Thai resort of Hua Hin.

Brunei Darussalam also accepted the invitation of Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines to be a member of the Coral Triangle Initiative.

Earlier yesterday morning, His Majesty attended the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS) together with other leaders of Asean, Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand. The meeting was chaired by Absihit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand.

His Majesty believed that the international community was moving in the right direction towards addressing the global economic showdown, and was particularly encouraged by the outcome of the G20 Summit. His Majesty was of the view that it would be beneficial for the EAS to work with other organisations to complement the efforts undertaken at the regional level in ensuring a sustained economic recovery.

His Majesty called for the EAS to continue to pursue regional economic integration, and viewed that Asean's connectivity through infrastructure linkages would work well in achieving these objectives. His Majesty, therefore, welcomed the recent conclusion of the CEPEA Feasibility Study and tasked officials to follow up on the recommendations.

His Majesty expressed pleasure on the progress of the EAS process, and stated that Brunei was keen to cooperate on energy efficiency and conservation, as well as the environment. In this regard, His Majesty hoped to see more collaboration as well as exchanges in technology and technical assistance in these areas.

His Majesty stressed the importance of involving the youths in the EAS cooperation, and therefore invited young scientists and researchers to take advantage of Brunei Darussalam's tropical rainforest study centre. In this regard, His Majesty suggested that similar programmes could also be extended to educators in East Asia to allow a broader exchange of views and ideas, particularly on academic curricula.

In conclusion, His Majesty stressed the importance of strengthening networking, increasing capacity building, and developing more coordinated early warning systems, and urged officials to follow up on the implementation of the EAS Statement on Disaster Management.

At the end of the session, the leaders issued the "Cha-am Hua Hin Statement on East Asia Summit (EAS) Disaster Management" and the "Joint Press Statement of the 4th East Asia Summit on the Revival of Nalanda University".

The leaders of Asean, Australia and New Zealand issued the "Statement to Announce the Entry into Force of the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA)".

Following the meeting, His Majesty joined other leaders of the EAS at a working lunch, hosted by the Prime Minister of Thailand, where they exchanged views on regional and international matters.

His Majesty then witnessed the signing ceremony of the "MoU between Asean and China on Strengthening Cooperation in the Fields of Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment", "MoU between Asean and China on Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property", "MoU on Establishing the Asean-China Centre" and "Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of Asean".

Signing on behalf of Brunei Darussalam was Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awang Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In the afternoon, His Majesty attended the BIMP-EAGA Summit to discuss the progress made in the sub-region. The meeting was chaired by Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia.

On the latest progress report of the BIMP-EAGA, His Majesty observed that a number of MoUs had been signed namely in transport connectivity and trade facilitation, which would help to ease the flow of goods, services, investment and people in the sub-region.

His Majesty suggested that the BIMP-EAGA should now take a strategic approach in making the growth area a main source of food supply for Asean and Asia, as well as a premier eco-tourism destination.

His Majesty appreciated that the BIMP-EAGA countries were developing strategies in promoting the unique ecological diversity as a major eco-tourism destination. His Majesty added that the involvement of the community would ensure that people would benefit from the cooperation and, as such, called on ministers to further discuss implementation of initiatives.

His Majesty was pleased to endorse key infrastructure projects presented by officials to further promote economic growth in the sub-region, and looked forward to its progress at the next BIMP-EAGA Summit. His Majesty also thanked the Asian Development Bank for its support in this programme.

His Majesty appreciated the efforts of the private sector in convening a dialogue at the last BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting. In this regard, His Majesty encouraged similar interactions be intensified at various levels, and suggested the need to involve the private sectors from Asean and its Dialogue Partners in their sub-regional activities.

At the end of the Summit, the leaders endorsed the "Joint Statement of the Sixth Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area Summit".

Later in the afternoon, His Majesty left Cha-am, Hua Hin for Brunei Darussalam. A doa selamat was read by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

Present at the Hua Hin Airport to bid farewell to His Majesty were Suthep Thegsuban, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand; Veerachai Veeramatheekul, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office; Weera Sriwathanatrakoon, Governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province and spouse, and Jira Pongpaiboon, Mayor of Hua Hin.

Also present at the airport were Dato Paduka Haji Kamis bin Haji Tamin, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Thailand, and officials of the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in Bangkok. - Borneo Bulletin (26th October 2009)