Saturday, 3 June 2023
Leading up to the 24th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution on 8th June 2023 in Singapore, Jia Yaw, together with Akademi Sains Malaysia vice-president Prof. Datuk Dr. A. Bakar Jaafar were interviewed for an article in The Star.
When asked about the way forward for tackling transboundary haze pollution across ASEAN, Jia Yaw spoke about the need to develop an effective governance framework in the region.
He made the following points:
We need to go beyond relying on criminal law enforcement to hold polluters accountable. Not just because of the difficulties in navigating the transboundary nature of the problem against the limited effectiveness of domestic laws for cross-border accountability, but because of the significant progress we have had in corporate sustainability obligations and ESG.
ASEAN member states should look towards empowering stakeholders to demand transparency and action in terms of corporate sustainability and ESG due diligence. Governments can facilitate this by developing regulatory tools to seek corporate disclosure on issues relating to business supply chains and overseas subsidiaries.
There should be a regional framework for sharing corporate sustainability data in a meaningful way that would empower all stakeholders across the region (shareholders, investors, financiers, employees, buyers, consumers, civil society organisations, public authorities, journalists, and members of the public) to uphold corporate accountability.
It is time ASEAN builds on the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution 2002 (often said to be ‘toothless’) by developing a framework for legal accountability on those who cause or contribute to haze pollution. Jia Yaw observes that the Singaporean Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 has demonstrated what will not work, legally as well as politically. He suggests that the ‘ASEAN way’ of non-intervention can be circumvented by having each ASEAN member state make a reciprocating legal commitment to hold its own companies accountable within its own national jurisdiction (e.g., imposing duties of disclosure on parent companies with operations overseas).
This is in fact a matter of duty on the part of ASEAN governments. The right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a universal human right. Under Article 28(f) of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, ASEAN member states must uphold the right of every ASEAN citizen to a safe, clean, and healthy environment.
Read the full article here: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/06/03/tackle-asean-haze-effectively