Energy, climate and development issues pose global challenge: ASEAN

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Singapore, Nov 20 (UNI) Energy, climate change and sustainable development have been identified as interrelated and complex issues representing a serious global challenge by the 13th ASEAN summit.

The summit, being held in Singapore till November 22, declared that these challenges must be dealt in a comprehensive manner through individual, regional and concerted international action.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the chairman of the 10-member summit, necessiated urgent action to control the adverse effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and changing weather patterns, which would have a direct impact on the security, livelihood and well-being of the 570 million people of the region.

He said the ASEAN summit underscored the importance of establishing a comprehensive post-2012 international climate change arrangement, based on the principles of equity, flexibility, effectiveness, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Mr Loong said ASEAN's rich endowment of forestry resources meant the region could contribute to the global reduction of greenhouse gas through the preservation of carbon sinks.

''We are committed to increase forest cover in our region, and welcome concrete initiatives such as the Heart of Borneo conservation plan being undertaken by Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia,'' he said, adding, ''We pledge to tackle and guard against unsustainable practices, such as illegal logging, preventing slash-and-burn practices and forest fires, while cooperate to implement robust enforcement, education and increased bilateral and regional cooperation.'' He also called upon the international community to participate in and contribute to such efforts, and said ASEAN support other relevant initiatives such as the Forestry Eleven Forum, and the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security.

Among other wide ranging issues, Mr Lee announced that the grouping has agreed that narrowing the development gap remains an important task which will ensure that the benefits of ASEAN's integration efforts are fully realised.

The efforts to narrow the development gap, such as through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), should be aligned with the broader objectives of ASEAN's integration efforts.

Earlier today, ASEAN signed a new charter to set up a rules-based community, equivalent to European Union, and signed an ASEAN Economic Community pact to integrate the regional economy by 2015 and make the Southeast Asian a single market.

UNI

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