PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Southeast Asia is facing a plethora of non-traditional security threats. No country, regardless of its capability, could alone effectively address these security threats. It requires international cooperation and integrated institutional responses.
Asean has built its institutions through both the declarations of political will and commitment, and strategic action plans and community building blueprints. However, the key issue here is the capacity to implement. The Asean member states need to promote the responsibility to implementation of these regional cooperation mechanisms and policies.
Climate change has drawn serious attention in the region since 2000s. Climate change is one of the core elements in realising the Asean Community. The meetings of the Asean Environment Ministers and the Asean Senior Officials on Environment are two key regional platforms to formulate, implement, and monitor regional policies and activities. The Asean Climate Change Initiative (ACCI) is a consultative platform to strengthen regional policy coordination and cooperation. The Asean Secretariat has coordinated related meetings and activities, and generated generic information and policy recommendations.
Asean adopted a series of agreements and declarations on disaster response and management such as the Asean Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution in 2002, the establishment of the Asean Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) in 2003, the Declaration on Action to Strengthen Emergency Relief, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction Prevention in the Aftermath of the tsunami in 2004, the AseanAgreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response and its work program 2010-2015, the Asean Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation in Flood Prevention, Mitigation, Relief, Recovery, and Rehabilitation in 2011, the Asean Declaration on Enhancing Cooperation on Disaster Management in 2013.
The Asean Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center) was created in 2011 to promote cooperation between the Asean Member States and international organizations for disaster management and emergency response in the Asean region. Information sharing, capacity building, joint exercises, and resources mobilization constitute core activities of the center.
Food security has been high on the agenda in the Asean Community building process since the 1970s. The agreement on the Asean Food Security Reserve was adopted in 1979. Food security and agricultural trade facilitation are mentioned in the ASEAN Community Blueprints. The Asean Integrated Food Security (AIFS) Framework and Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security (SPA-FS) was adopted in 2009 with the objective to enhance the international competitiveness of Asean’s food and agriculture and forestry products as well as strengthen the food security arrangement in the region.
AIFS has four components namely food security, emergency and relief, sustainable food trade development and facilitation, the development of an integrated food security information system, and agricultural innovation and food production.
Water security has drawn the attention of the Asean leaders since 2000s. In 2002, the Asean Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM) was established together with the issuance of the Asean Long Term Strategic Plan for Water Resources Management in 2003. Two years later, the Asean Strategic Plan of Action on Water Resources Management was adopted in 2005.
The Strategic Plan focuses on four integrated elements of water management. It includes the access to safe, adequate and affordable water supply, hygiene and sanitation, the provision of sufficient water that will ensure food security for the region, the provision of sufficient water to spur and sustain the economies of the region, and the protection of the water environment to preserve flow regimes, biodiversity and cultural heritage as well as the mitigation of water-related hazards.
The Asean Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2010-2015 was adopted in 2009 to promote energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy, and coal and clean coal technology. The pillar of energy efficiency and conservation includes four strategic goals: (a) reducing regional energy intensity of at least 85 by 2015 based on 2005 level; (b) achieving higher end-use energy efficiency for all sectors through regulatory and market approaches; (c) enhancing institutional and human capacity emphasizing the development of energy efficiency technology and service providers in the Asean region; and (d) encouraging private sector participation.
Stated in the Asean Socio-Cultural Community blueprint, Asean member states agreed to intensify efforts to protect fundamental human rights, promote the welfare of and uphold human dignity of migrant workers. They also aim to facilitate data-sharing on matters related to migrant workers to enhance policies and programs concerning migrant workers in both sending and receiving states and strengthen policies and procedures in the sending state to facilitate aspects of migration workers, including recruitment, preparation for deployment overseas and protection of the migrant workers when abroad as well as repatriation and reintegration to the countries of origin.