Strengthen environmental pact with family, community

HIS Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who is currently in Bali, Indonesia, for the 6th meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) Foreign Ministers, yesterday highlighted the importance of strengthening environmental cooperation at both family and community levels.

At a Retreat Session on the forum’s theme, “Promoting East Asia and Latin America Cooperation”, HRH in a sabda noted that the forum was making good progress together as regions.

“We are doing a lot of work internationally and we are getting to know each other very well, but it is mainly as governments,” he said. “That does not mean that our ordinary people know much about each other.”

While there is plenty of work going on internationally, with many debates and conferences and long negotiations, HRH said he would like to see FEALAC member states get down to family and community levels.

“Like (Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr R M Marty M Natalegawa), I would like us to have a clear ‘big picture’ of what we are trying to do; something which links us very closely in our day-to-day lives,” said HRH.

“For me, the one that stands out is the environment.

“It is where we have a lot in common, especially those of us with vulnerable rainforests and coastlines.

“If you ask me for a possible example, I suggest we think long-term and start with something in our schools, even as early as pre-school.

“I remember learning about outer space when I was a boy.

“It was mostly from comic books and stories. That made it real and exciting to us.”

Given that there is now a Cyber Secretariat, HRH suggested that perhaps FEALAC could help teachers use the same approach to climate change and the environment – with stories, publications, animation and so on, making it enjoyable and a very important part of family life.

“I think it would be really good if FEALAC could look at ways to do this,” HRH said.

On Wednesday, HRH was met at the Ngurah Rai lnternational Airport by Mr Pitono Purnomo, First Echelon, Head of the Kemlu Assessment and Policy Development Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of lndonesia.

HRH yesterday attended the opening session of the Forum at the Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua, which was officiated by the Indonesian Foreign Minister and Monica Lanzetta Mutis, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia.

HRH also attended a working lunch and a Retreat Session. HRH later joined other ministers for an outreach programme, symbolising FEALAC members’ concern for marine conservation.

HRH also held bilateral talks with Yoon Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.

HRH yesterday evening attended a welcoming dinner hosted by the Indonesian Foreign Minister and his spouse.

The 6th meeting of the FEALAC will conclude today (June 14).

FEALAC member states make up 33.43 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), with total trade reaching US$13.14 trillion or 29.82 per cent of the world’s global trade, according to The Jakarta Post. About 24 per cent of the world’s foreign direct investment (FDI) is also among FEALAC members.

As the economies of East Asia and Latin America grow and prosper, the Indonesian Foreign Minister said the regions needed to be linked better.

Colombia’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said the FEALAC offered the best opportunity to support the social and economic growth of the countries and both regions.

“(FEALAC) is also helpful in facing common challenges, such as trade, climate change, investment and the eradication of poverty,” she said.

More than 300 people from 36 FEALAC member states – except the Dominican Republic and Bolivia – are attending the two-day ministerial meeting, which will end today (June 14).

The FEALAC was established in 1999 as an informal forum to link Asian and Latin American countries. - Borneo Bulletin (14 June 2013)