08.11.2018 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

The launch of UNESCO’s MOST Academy to Stop Haze: Translating Ethical Principles into Action

Haze in China Town, Singapore (2013)

Pekanbaru – the capital of Indonesian province of Riau and a major economic center on the eastern part of Sumatra Island is hosting UNESCO’s MOST Academy (8-10 November). Researchers, policymakers, and community-based organization have converged in this city to focus on finding evidence-informed, human rights-based, sustainable solutions to haze pollution.

The choice of this location is deliberate – the city of Pekanbaru and the surrounding Riau province are one of the hardest hit regions of Indonesia from this socio-environmental disaster.

The UNESCO project on addressing Haze pollution from bioethical perspective has brought together researchers, policymakers and local communities in the mutual quest for affective ways to translate universal ethical principles into action:

“The promotion of health and social development for their people is a central purpose of governments that all sectors of society share,” states the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (Article 14 on Social responsibility and health).

“Decision-making based on science is critically important for meeting the mitigation and adaptation challenges of a rapidly changing climate. Decisions should be based on, and guided by, the best available knowledge from the natural and social sciences, including interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary science, and by taking into account, as appropriate, local, traditional and indigenous knowledge,” proclaims the Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change (Article 7 on Scientific Knowledge and Integrity in Decision-Making).

How do we turn these principles into concrete action to benefit the people who suffer from the effects of haze pollution resulting from peatland, forest, and plantation fires? – this is the key challenge that the participants of the MOST Academy will be tackling this week. The discussions will be informed by the real experiences, lessons learned, and evidence gathered in the course of the implementation of applied sustainability science projects.

The last day of the MOST Academy will focus on the field visit to one of the villages in Riau province that benefited from the pilot project. The participants will have a chance to interact with the local community and observe the transformations taking place on the site.

Besides the grave threats to human health that extends to the populations of Singapore and Malaysia, the exposure to haze pollution harms living resources, fragile ecosystems, as well as material property, leading to the violation of fundamental human rights to life and health, and a considerable financial loss for the governments. Forest fires represent a significant contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions and therefore to the climate change.

For the Programme of MOST Academy, please click here.

For more information on UNESCO Project on Haze Pollution, please click here.

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