06.12.2017 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Haze Pollution: Seeking Solutions from Bioethics and Sustainability Science Perspectives

Haze Pollution: Seeking Solutions from Bioethics and Sustainability Science Perspectives

6 December 2017 – Today, UNESCO Jakarta Office has kicked off the Forum of ASEAN National Bioethics Committees on Haze with the policymakers, experts and activists converging from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to discuss a major environmental issue with pervasive social and economic consequences in the region – the transboundary haze pollution.

Every year people in Southeast Asia suffer from the effects of haze pollution resulting from land, forest and plantation fires in various parts of Indonesia. Besides the grave threats to human health, the exposure to haze pollution harms living resources, the fragile ecosystems, as well as the material property, leading to the violation of human rights to life and health, and a considerable financial loss for the governments.

UNESCO has decided to shed the light on the complex socio-environmental issue of transboundary haze from the perspectives of bioethics and sustainability science. Funded by the Malaysian Funds-in-Trust for UNESCO, the project supported five different institutions to conduct research on the ethical, social and cultural aspects of haze, using as the framework the universal ethical principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The results of this multifaceted research are providing the background for the reflections during the current Forum. The recommendations emerging from this research and the Forum will form a foundation for an applied pilot project to be carried out within a selected haze-affected community in 2018.

UNESCO is committed to building the capacities of the National Bioethics Committees, for them to provide guidance to governments on addressing difficult bioethical dilemmas, and to raise general public awareness on critical ethical issues. The haze pollution, as a direct infringement of the fundamental human right to health and healthy environment, exemplifies such a multidimensional ethical issue, especially relevant for the countries in Southeast Asia. NBCs of haze-affected countries can play an important role in formulating policy-oriented recommendations that reflect best available scientific evidence and universal ethical principles. 

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