The COVID-19 pandemic has been changing the world, creating enormous impacts on communities in urban and rural areas. From immediate response to contain the spread of the virus and efforts to strengthen health systems, the discussion on the pandemic has shifted to possible impacts to other sectors outside of the health systems and innovative ways of adapting to the “New Normal”. The notion that the COVID-19 pandemic has been good for the environment due to air quality improvements may be temporary. With lockdown easing, there is risk of more pollution and worsen climate change as the economy recovers. In the context of land and forest fires and the wake of the pandemic, calls for increased concerted effort and preparedness of authorities, communities and private sector in preventing haze events that would exacerbate the health of COVID-19 infected patients are being emphasised.
Despite restrictions on movements in most of the ASEAN region amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN Secretariat with support from the IFAD-funded Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA) Programme, continue to engage relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and the general public in its agenda to increase awareness and preparedness on transboundary haze events within and across sectors and disciplines through online platforms.
In line with the SOCA-endorsed Webinar Series on the Impacts of COVID-19 on ASCC Sectors and Post-COVID19 Strategies, aimed to unpack the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations, and taking into consideration the upcoming dry season in the southern ASEAN region (estimated to peak in August – September 2020); the ASEAN Secretariat, in partnership with the MAHFSA Programme, will host a webinar via Zoom entitled “A stronger ASEAN response to potential transboundary haze event in the wake of pandemics” which will be held on 4 August 2020 at 09:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M. (GMT+7).