Brunei to host forest summit

Rhinoceros hornbills in Brunei. Source: Wikimedia

Brunei is set to host the Second Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in August with Australian backing, it has announced.

Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Brunei had agreed to hold the summit from August 3 to 5 in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan.

“We are looking forward to working with Brunei as the hosts of the 2016 summit, and to further develop the Asia-Pacific Recovery Plan,” Hunt said.

Primary Resources and Tourism Minister Ali Apong and Hunt announced that the Asia-Pacific Recovery Plan represented a new way to engage with international experts, donors and financial institutions to protect the rainforests.

Ali called Brunei “an ideal location” for the summit, providing a great opportunity to showcase work in forest conservation, sustainable development and biodiversity protection.

“It is also an opportunity for Brunei to give the world a glimpse of their beautiful and well-preserved forests, their biodiversity and their plans for the future in preserving their landscapes not only today but for future generations,” Ali said.

On the agenda will be biodiversity integration, towards a green economy, reducing biodiversity loss from illegal logging and sustainable climate finance.

The joint statement said Canberra had been leading regional efforts to conserve, stop and reverse deforestation following the previous summit in Sydney in November 2014.

“We are excited to be working with Brunei on the recovery plan and look forward to continuing our relationship in the lead up to their hosting of the summit in August 2016,” Hunt added.

Meanwhile, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Awang Halbi has pledged that Brunei would uphold the Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

Speaking during the 15th ASCC Luang Prabang, Laos, he said: “Brunei will continue to be committed to the ASCC for the welfare and benefit of the Asean.”

He praised the ASCC’s work in health, youth, community development, arts and culture, work environment and disaster management.

Laos Prime Minister Thonhloun Sisoulith invited members to help bolster the Asean Economic Community, particularly the ASCC, through a 10-year plan.

Awang Halbi said the formation of the AEC, established at New Year, would lead to a more united region requiring collective and comprehensive involvement.