The Philippine government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be hosting an important gathering of senior environment officials in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with climate change and environmental cooperation on top of the agenda.


            Some 80 delegates are expected to attend the 28th annual meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials for Environment (ASOEN) to be held in Pasay City from July 23 to 29. The meeting will be chaired by the Lao People's Democratic Republic.


            DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the meeting is “critical” among the ASEAN members to better manage the region’s environment and natural resources.


            “Environment is transboundary in nature.  As neighbors, we share the air that we breathe, the seas around us and the animals that travel across our borders.  ASEAN and cooperative arrangements among its members are critical if we are to better manage our environment and natural resources,” Cimatu said.


            The ASOEN meeting is part of the ASEAN 2017 Summit which is being chaired by the Philippines, with theme “ASEAN 50: Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”


ASOEN is composed of ASEAN officials with the ranks of Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary and Director. 


            Among the highlights of the meeting are the consultation on the draft ASEAN joint statement on climate change and the holding of the 11th ASEAN-Japan Dialogue on Environmental Cooperation.


The group will also hold a joint dialogue with senior environment officials of the Republic of Korea, China and Japan during the ASEAN Plus Three SOME or Senior Officials Meeting on Environment.


The three countries have provided support for various environment initiatives in Southeast Asia, particularly in the implementation of the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) policy. They also provided training courses to enhance the region's environmental protection capacity.


The ASOEN meeting is in preparation for the high-level ASEAN Ministers' Meeting on the Environment or AMME to be held in Brunei in September.


The AMME meeting aims to promote ASEAN environmental cooperation and ensure enforcement of environmental decisions made by each head of government.


Among the agreements the ASEAN Ministers of the Environment had concluded in earlier meetings include the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution to promote cooperative action to address the haze from forest fires in Indonesia, and the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in Los Baños, Laguna, which serves as the "center for excellence" for biodiversity in Southeast Asia.


Established in 1967, the ASEAN is presently composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR and the Philippines.


Meanwhile, the ASOEN meeting coincides with the inauguration of the new ACB Headquarters in Laguna on July 29.  ACB is the only ASEAN center being hosted by the Philippines.


Executives of the DENR and the Department of Foreign Affairs, the ACB Governing Board -- composed of ASEAN senior environment officials and ambassadors -- and represenatives of ACB partner agencies are expected to attend the inauguration.


ACB has been at the forefront of biodiversity and conservation in the region for the past decade. ###





“I will strengthen the CENROs,” says Secretary Roy A. Cimatu in his message during his recent visit in Bicol. Secretary Cimatu vowed to strengthen the Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs) being the frontline unit which delivers the services of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the people.

According to Secretary Cimatu, he will empower the Forest Protection Officers to ensure their welfare and security. “Hindi tama na binabantayan ninyo ang mga puno, pero hindi ninyo mabantayan at maipagtanggol ang inyong mga sarili. We will train you. Pag-aaralin natin yan,” he said.

Citing his major thrusts for the environment, Secretary Cimatu emphasized clean air, clean water and solid waste management. He vowed to protect the environment by strictly and fully enforcing the laws. “We will do something for the environment, and I need all of you,” he stressed. He is optimistic that with the help of all DENR employees all environmental laws will be implemented to the fullest.

Meanwhile, Secretary Cimatu expressed his awe to Bicol Region being home to the world’s most perfect cone volcano and the world’s smallest commercial edible extant fish. He said that both Mayon Volcano and the Sinarapan or locally known as “Tabios” should be protected including all our natural resources. His orders for their protection were made explicitly to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officers and Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers where these two (2) wonders are found.

The Environment chief likewise warned employees about zero tolerance on corruption. “Do your work with honesty and integrity. Corrupt officials and employees will be punished. You don’t have a second chance with me,” the environment chief said. 


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