Environment fund

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Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the 10-country grouping, have agreed to create a fund to support environmental projects in the region. The fund, that could be up to US$10 million, will be established by the end of 2004, but the contribution by individual members has not been fixed as yet, ASEAN secretary-general Ong Keng Yong said. China, South Korea and Japan might also contribute.

Although it hasn't been decided how the fund would work, it is meant to support existing projects and launch new ones, Ong said. It would provide special emphasis to education programmes in South Asia's poverty-stricken rural areas.

In the meeting that ended on October 15, 2004, ASEAN members also resolved to reduce the pollution and haze caused by open burning and forest clearing. They urged Indonesia to introduce anti-haze pollution laws and ratify a 2002 agreement to fight fire pollution. Only six ASEAN members have ratified the pact so far.