ASEAN, EU conjoined High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate Change

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Senior officials from ASEAN and the European Union (EU) gathered virtually yesterday for the second EU-ASEAN High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate Change. During the dialogue, the EU and ASEAN discussed their cooperation on shared regional and global challenges related to the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change, as agreed in the Joint statement of the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting. Following the first meeting in July 2019, the second Dialogue provided an opportunity for further exchanges of experiences on environmental and climate goals, and promoting regional solutions for a green transition.

Ms Astrid Schomaker, Director for Global Sustainable Development at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment, Mr Jacob Werksman, Principal Adviser, Directorate-General for Climate Action, and Mr Hazri Hassan, Director for International Policy at the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment who represented Singapore as the ASEAN-EU Country Coordinator, chaired the meeting.

The European Green Deal, the outcomes of the 31st Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment, and putting sustainability at the heart of the recovery framework, guided the discussion.

Important areas of ongoing and potential cooperation between the two regional entities that have been discussed are plastics and marine litter, circular economy, biodiversity, and natural capital. The EU informed of its intention to work towards a global agreement on plastics, which it deems to be important for both the EU and ASEAN and highlighted the continued implementation of a plastics and marine litter project in five ASEAN countries. The Dialogue also broached the subject of chemicals and waste and, stressing the importance of promoting safety and sustainability with reference to the relevant agreement in which both ASEAN and EU are the parties to address waste trafficking and illegal waste dumping.

This was followed by the welcome announcement that the preparation of an ASEAN Platform on Circular Economy is underway. The EU is supporting its establishment, as part of a joint initiative between the EU and ASEAN on the circular economy. The Platform will facilitate the sharing of good circular practices across ASEAN, engage key stakeholders, and help design policies that can accelerate a circular economy transition in ASEAN Member States.

The two sides directed their attention to biodiversity and natural capital and emphasized the importance of next year’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming and highlighted urgent need to work jointly towards a realistic and ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

In the second part of the discussion, EU and ASEAN officials exchanged views on climate change, including in the areas of Nationally Determined Contributions, concrete mitigation actions, long-term strategies, climate neutrality as well as latest trends in sustainable finance.

Both sides agreed to continue their cooperation on these topics as a follow-up the High-level Dialogue discussions.

The High-Level Dialogue was supported by the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI), a development cooperation program that facilitates dialogues between the EU and ASEAN in priority policy areas of joint interest. Drawing on the EU’s experience of regional integration, the E-READI policy dialogue facility further strengthens both the ASEAN regional integration process as well as the overall ASEAN-EU partnership.

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