Leaders of ASEAN countries and dialogue partners pledged to increase cooperation to strengthen food and energy security following heated discussions on a wide range of regional and international issues of common interest at the eighth East Asia Summit (EAS) Thursday.
In a Declaration of the eighth EAS on Food Security, one of the major outcome documents of the summit, the leaders agreed to increase the level of food security cooperation in the EAS by measures such as increasing food security information sharing and promote responsible agricultural investment that respects rights, livelihoods and resources.
The declaration called for removal of existing protectionist measures and restraint on introducing new measures that are inconsistent with WTO agreements and that may hinder food trade, as well as promoting better trade facilitation, in accordance with national laws and regulations to promote food security.
Sustainable food security is an important element in EAS's long- term sustainable future, and has a direct impact on the people of the region, the leaders agreed, while noting that it also overlaps with many key areas of the EAS, such as the environment, energy, global health and connectivity.
In order to strengthen food security, the summit proposed three main areas for cooperation, namely enhancing production and supply chain efficiency, managing health and addressing the environmental aspect of food security.
At the summit, the leaders also reaffirmed the importance of the EAS energy cooperation in strengthening energy security and improving energy access in the EAS region in view of the volatility of global energy markets and changes in the global economic landscape.
As a follow-up to last summit's "energy partnership," the summit welcomed the establishment of a new Work Stream on " Renewable and Alternative Power Generation" that Brunei is co- chairing with the United States, saying it will provide EAS with useful policy recommendations to increase investment and participation in enhancing energy security, as well as promoting inclusive economic growth and protecting the environment.
According to the Chairman's Statement adopted at the summit, the leaders also discussed various environmental issues including climate change and sustainable development, which they held are immediate regional and global concerns.
Climate change is one example of how EAS can work together, said Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei's sultan who chaired the summit, in a media release after the summit. He pointed out that more can be done by strengthening the cooperation in mitigating the effects of climate change, such as environmental conservation, sustainable development and disaster management.
In terms of global political security issues, the summit commended Russia and the United States for their efforts in seeking a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis. Leaders are also encouraged by Iran's recent approach on its nuclear energy program, and congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama for advancing the Middle East Peace Process.
Other issues touched on at the summit also include disaster management, education and people-to-people interactions, global health and pandemic diseases, connectivity, trade and economics, among others.
Meanwhile, the leaders reiterated their support for ASEAN's centrality in the regional architecture, and noted the need to deepen and enhance ASEAN's dialogue partnership and external relations, with the aim of having an equal, mutually beneficial, and meaningful partnership, according to the statement.
The forum draws together leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well the bloc's eight dialogue partners including China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.
Since its inception in 2005, the EAS has served as a forum for dialogue on broad strategic issues of relevance to East Asia as well as other regional and global issues, with the focus on areas such as energy, infectious diseases, sustainable development, poverty reduction and environment.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.