Environmental degradation is an important challenge for the countries of Southeast Asia who together constitute about 3 per cent of the world’s land area and 7.7 per cent of the world’s population. As the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations observed in its 1994 review of functional cooperation, ‘any drastic and irreversible reduction in the region’s resources or degradation of its environment will … have far reaching implications for the region’s ecosystem and quality of life’ (ASEAN Secretariat, 1994: 33). In this chapter I focus mainly on the collective responses of the ten member states of ASEAN who together declared, in the 1995 Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution, that Southeast Asia forms a single ecosystem (ASEAN Secretariat, 1995). The ecological, as opposed to the political, basis for such claims is dubious. Southeast Asia is characterized by at least two quite distinct ecosystem types — the maritime ecosystems of island Southeast Asia and the continental, riparian ecosystems of mainland Southeast Asia — with a wide diversity of ecosystems and natural resource endowments within them. An ecological definition would include East Timor (Timor Leste), which is not a member of ASEAN although it did participate in the Southeast Asian preparatory meetings for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development; and it would include adjacent regions such as the Chinese province of Yunnan, which is central to ecology and environmental governance in the Mekong River Basin of mainland Southeast Asia.
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- Environmental Challenges, Policy Failure and Regional Dynamics in Southeast Asia
- Macmillan Education UK
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- Chapter 16