19.09.2017 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Promoting a Bioethical Approach to Understanding and Addressing Haze Pollution

Haze covers parts of Riau (Jakarta Post)

Institute of Islamic Understanding of Malaysia (IKIM) has brought together policymakers from the key government institutions, researchers from the country’s leading universities, as well as the experts and activists from various civil society organization to shed the light on a complex socio-environmental issue of transboundary haze from a bioethical perspective, anchored in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The Expert Group Consultation meeting is part of the research phase of the UNESCO project on Addressing Haze though Bioethics and Sustainability Science, funded by Malaysian Funds in Trust for UNESCO.

Every year, the haze caused by the burning of peatland for the production of pulp, paper and palm oil disrupts lives in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries of Southeast Asia. It costs the region’s governments billions of dollars, contributes significantly to the global greenhouse gas emissions, and leaves millions of people at risk of respiratory and other diseases.

This human-caused environmental disaster and its detrimental effect on human health has a clear bioethical dimension. It directly evokes several fundamental ethical principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, such as social responsibility and health (Article 14), solidarity and cooperation (Article 13) and protection of the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity (Article 17).

Pursuant to its mandate (Article 19) to support and reinforce the work of National Bioethics Committees (NBCs) in its Member States, UNESCO is building their capacities to provide guidance to governments in difficult bioethical dilemmas facing their societies, and raising general public awareness on critical ethical issues. One such critical bioethical issue deals with environmental haze pollution as the direct infringement of the fundamental human right to the highest attainable standard of health. NBCs of haze-affected countries can play an important role in formulating policy-oriented recommendations grounded in the universal principles of bioethics, and informed by transdisciplinary field of sustainability science.  

In the framework of the ongoing project, five organizations are conducting research on various ethical, societal and cultural aspects of haze production in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, partnering in this process with the NBCs. UNESCO will highlight the results of this multifaceted research project during the Regional Forum of National Bioethics Committees on Haze on 6-7 December 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Download Programme of the EGC, with the List of Speakers here.

Click here for the photo "Expert Group Consultations on Bioethical Perspectives on Haze in Malaysia"

For any enquiries about this initiative, please contact the Social and Human Sciences unit of UNESCO Jakarta Office (i.khodeli(at)unesco.org)

Upcoming event - Regional Forum of National Bioethics Committees on Haze

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