U.S.-ASEAN Collaboration on Environment and Science Issues

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 9, 2013

On October 9, Secretary of State John Kerry attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - U.S. Summit in Brunei and met with the ASEAN leaders and foreign ministers, as well as the ASEAN Secretariat’s Secretary-General. The Secretary emphasized the full range of programs that the United States supports, working in partnership with ASEAN and with civil society in the region to achieve environmental goals in Southeast Asia: combating illegal logging and wildlife trafficking, encouraging low-emission development, promoting water resource stewardship, and conserving biodiversity.

  • Combating Illegal Logging and Associated Trade: To end the destructive practice of illegal logging (which costs an estimated $10-15 billion per year in lost tax revenues worldwide) and promote forest conservation, the United States participates in the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the APEC Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade. The United States also finances the Forest Legality Alliance (FLA), a public-private partnership to reduce demand for illegally harvested forest products and increase industry capacity to supply legally-harvested forest products, and the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) initiative, which has assisted in the development of timber legality assurance and chain of custody systems and has helped to bring 1.2 million hectares of tropical forest under certification. Through the public-private Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, the United States is working to reduce tropical deforestation associated with key agricultural commodities such as palm oil.
  • Combating Illegal Trade in Wildlife: The State Department and USAID have worked with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) to increase the number of arrests and seizures of illegal wildlife trafficking by member states 11-fold, and train more than 3,000 government officials in law enforcement techniques. As part of this effort, the State Department supports investigation, interdiction, and prosecution efforts in Asia, including park ranger training and special investigative training for wildlife managers at the U.S. International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok. Additionally, USAID is working to end the illegal trade in tigers and their parts. Moreover, we are supporting African governments’ efforts to explore potential WENs and seeking ways to facilitate communication and sharing of best practices by linking these regional networks globally. APEC Leaders have also affirmed their commitment to addressing this serious issue by agreeing to take action to reduce demand; increase information sharing between WENs in China, Southeast Asia, and the Americas; and increasing capacity of customs and other officials.
  • Combating Climate Change: Through the Global Climate Change Initiative’s Sustainable Landscapes pillar and related projects, we work with regional partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while conserving biodiversity, protecting watersheds, and improving livelihoods of vulnerable populations. USAID's Lowering Emissions in Asia's Forests (LEAF) program engages regional governments, forestry and climate mitigation specialists, and universities in technical capacity building focused on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). We also support emissions reduction initiatives in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam through USAID and Department of State’s Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Program (EC-LEDS), the Department of State’s LEDS Global Partnership, and USAID’s Low Emissions Asian Development (LEAD) program. In addition the APEC Technical Assistance and Training Facility, co-managed by the Department of State and USAID, assisted APEC member economies in applying LEDS to transportation sector planning and development.
  • The Lower Mekong Initiative’s (LMI) Environment and Water Pillar: Launched by former Secretary Clinton in 2009, LMI is a collaborative platform for Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to strengthen sub-regional integration and narrow the development gap within ASEAN by engaging on important transnational challenges in six "pillars" or topical areas, such as water and natural resources conservation. The goal of the LMI Environment and Water Pillar is to advance economic growth and sustainable development through transnational policy dialogues and programs. A number of U.S. government agencies contribute to advancing pillar priorities through technical capacity-building and knowledge-sharing. In addition, LMI is exploring innovative, long-term approaches to incentivize sustainable infrastructure investments with “Friends of the LMI” members (e.g., Japan, Australia, and the Asian Development Bank). USAID’s Asia Climate Change Adaptation (ADAPT) project helps LMI countries to access financing for adaptation projects. To date ADAPT leveraged $25 million from non-USAID sources since 2012. USAID’s Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (ARCC) project assists LMI countries to prepare climate change adaptation strategies. Baseline studies with Mekong River Commission representatives look at climate impacts on agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture and natural systems.
  • Coral Triangle Initiative: The United States was the first partner of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF), a multilateral partnership with the goal of sustaining Southeast Asia and the Pacific Island’s marine and coastal biological resources. The six CTI-CFF member states are Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and the Solomon Islands. Results include a regional framework for a CTI Marine Protected Area System Network, improving management of over 10 million hectares of coastal zones and marine protected areas in Indonesia, and support for management of 1,000 marine protected areas in the Philippines.
  • CityLinks Pilot Partnership: To strengthen resilience and prepare cities in Southeast Asia to adapt to climate change, the United States, in partnership with ASEAN, launched the CityLinks Pilot Partnership between the United States and ASEAN Member States at the EAS 4th High Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities in March 2013. The ASEAN-U.S. CityLinks Pilot Partnership responds directly to ASEAN and EAS needs for a structured and strategic approach to city-to-city learning on environmental sustainability. The Partnership’s inaugural event was the Climate Leadership Academy in August. Municipal teams from seven ASEAN member states shared systematic approaches to climate change adaptation, discussed sustainable solutions, and addressed urban resilience challenges. This unique training and peer-learning opportunity was focused on improving, expanding, and accelerating city efforts to better assess, prioritize, and manage the local risks of climate change. ASEAN cities will be paired with U.S. cities to share best practices and provide assistance on innovative approaches, technologies and good governance tools to support planning and implementation efforts. This Partnership addresses the need to integrate resilience into urban planning and implementation to address environmental and socioeconomic challenges.
  • Greenhouse Gas Inventory Tools: In September 2012, the ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility completed a regional pilot program implementing the use of measuring and monitoring tools to track carbon footprints, with a further goal of joining the Carbon Cities Climate Registry and reporting progress internationally. The pilot program demonstrated how ASEAN cities can meet local, national, and international commitments through the use of internationally recognized measuring and monitoring tools such as HEAT+, which is a systematic way of inventorying Green House Gases (GHG) emissions through the application of customized software. It will also help in the establishment of a standardized GHG accounting approach across the ASEAN region. The inventory data are now being used for a renewable energy project in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
  • U.S.-ASEAN Science Prize for Women Researching Water Quality: This newly established Science Prize for Women promotes water quality research supporting clean and safe drinking water in the ASEAN region. The winner will be selected on the basis of her demonstrated excellence in scientific research, cooperation with scientists from other ASEAN member states, contribution to the theme of drinking water quality for the ASEAN region, and scientific creativity. Applications will open this winter, with a winner announced at the ASEAN Science Week in Indonesia in 2014.
  • Community Solutions Participants Focused on Environmental Issues: Two young ASEAN NGO leaders are currently spending four months in U.S. environmentally-focused organizations, having successfully applied for the competitive Community Solutions Professional Fellows exchange. Participants in the program are matched with non-profit organizations and government offices across the United States where they work with peer community leaders on environmental issues and initiatives, develop leadership and organizational management skills through online and in-person trainings, and implement innovative projects in their home communities in collaboration with their new U.S. partners. For the fall of 2013, ASEAN participants from Vietnam and Cambodia have been matched with the Center for Integrated Natural Resources & Agricultural Management in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Citizens Environmental Coalition in Houston, Texas.
  • Science Outreach: The United States mission to ASEAN launched InnovASEAN, an online blog on the application of science, technology, and innovation to the environment and the development of the ASEAN Community. Most of the blog entries are contributions by ASEAN scientists. The goal is to create a substantive conversation within ASEAN by ASEAN citizens on using science to address regional challenges.
  • Green Buildings: APEC and ASEAN held a series of joint workshops, supported by APEC Technical Assistance and Training Facility (TATF), focused on improving energy efficiency of the commercial building sector and facilitating collaboration on green building in the Asia Pacific region in order to prevent standards, codes, and testing requirements from becoming obstacles to trade. Encouraging green building practices also results in energy savings that support economies’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A March public-private forum fostered sharing of best practices for members to apply green building codes, and was followed by publication in August of a comprehensive study on building codes and green codes in the region. APEC and ASEAN members also explored how Building Information Modeling (BIM) standards can deliver concrete benefits in the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings; economies can catalyze and assess progress in BIM utilization using a new BIM Start-Up Guide.
  • Fossil Fuels: Working to advance commitments by APEC in 2011 to increase transparency in reporting in order to reduce inefficient fossil fuels subsidies, the APEC TATF project sponsored a workshop to help members develop communications strategies to better educate the general population about the impacts of energy subsidies and plans for reform. The APEC TATF project developed guidelines for voluntary peer reviews on fossil fuel subsidies reform which will be conducted in volunteer APEC economies beginning in 2014. The United States is also working on a number of studies to make the case for government reform to transition away from fossil fuel subsidies.

PRN: 2013/1240