EANET Seminar: Learnings on Reducing Emissions from Open Burning

7 September 2022 – Niigata, Japan

The Network Center for the EANET organized the Seminar « Learnings on Reducing Emissions from Open Burning » in a hybrid format, in Suwon, Republic of Korea, and online, on 6 September 2022, with the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) (UNEP) and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategy (IGES) as co-organizers. The Seminar focused on good practices to reduce emissions from open burning and presented sustainable alternatives to improve air quality in the region. 144 participants from 17 countries from the Asian region and beyond joined the Seminar.


Opening Session

Moderated by Ms. Maria Katherina Patdu, Associate Programme Officer – Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) (UNEP), the Seminar started with the Opening and Welcome Remarks by Dr. Shiro Hatakeyama, Director General of the Asia Center for Air Pollution Research (ACAP) in charge of the NC for the EANET, and by Dr. Mushtaq Memon, Regional Coordinator for Chemicals and Pollution Action Subprogramme, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Dr. Memon also co-moderated the second part of the Seminar.


Dr. Shiro Hatakeyama and Dr. Mushtaq Memon delivered the opening remarks.


Remarks emphasized the new role of the EANET with the expansion of its scope from acid deposition to air pollution (including PM2.5), and the technical and financial challenges leading to open burning practices in the region.


Open Biomass Burning and Regional Challenges

Dr. Supat Wangwongwatana, a Senior Instructor of the Faculty of Public Health, at Thammasat University, Thailand, presented the various causes of open burning in Thailand, with a particular focus on Northern Thailand’s situation and showed the direct impacts on air quality, the environment, and public health. In his presentation, he highlighted the challenges and needs for more government-driven incentives, policies, technical assistance, and education toward non-burning agricultural practices.


Panelists during the Seminar. From left to right: Ms. Maria Katherina Patdu, Dr. Supat Wangwongwatana, Ms. Etwin Sabarini, Dr. Eric Zusman, Dr. Alison Simcox, and Ms. Azka Ghaida.


Sharing Good Practices to Reduce Open Burning

Ms. Etwin Sabarini, Programme Coordinator, Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA), ASEAN Secretariat introduced the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. She explained the history, objective, and framework of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and focused her talk on the ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS) initiative aiming at conserving peatlands, the largest carbon store in the ASEAN region.

Ms. Do Van Nguyet, Director at Live & Learn for Environment and Community, then shared examples of good practices from Viet Nam, including their collective action to control open burning in Hanoi. These included: policy development, monitoring, and technical assistance with a special focus on multi-stakeholder engagement.

Dr. Eric Zusman, a Senior Policy Researcher and Area Leader at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategy (IGES), presented priority actions in Southeast Asia to reduce open burning, and possible solutions, while analyzing barriers to their implementation based on the example of Thailand. To deal with these barriers, he explained the polycentric system approach, where different governing authorities may organize themselves in non-hierarchical relationships, and he emphasized the need to mix solutions of alternatives to open burning.

Dr. Alison Simcox, from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA), shared an overview of agricultural burning and smoke management in the USA. After explaining the history of agricultural burning practices, she detailed the recent changes in practices and the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) focusing on the Smoke Management Program (SMP) and on alternatives to burning in the USA, such as no-till farming.

Dr. Ken Yamashita summarized the Seminar.

Ms. Azka Ghaida, an Air Quality and Climate Research Analyst at the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Indonesia, presented the use case of crop residue open burning in Indonesia by explaining the cause of the phenomenon, the government’s action, the barriers, and the solutions such as education and community involvement, sustainable farming and farm management practices.

Dr. Ken Yamashita who is Head of the Planning and Training Department at the Network Center for the EANET (ACAP) thanked all panelists and participants and summarized the Seminar by highlighting the key points of the challenges such as technical, financial limitations but also cultural barriers, and opportunities including mixed alternatives and operating in polycentric governance systems, to reduce open burning practices from ASEAN, Thailand, Indonesia, Viet Nam, and the USA.


Useful Resources


For further inquiries, contact the Network Center for the EANET.


Photo credits: featured photo of Mù Cang Chai, Mù Cang Chai District, Yên Bái, Viet Nam (2020) by Hoach Le Dinh on Unsplash, other photos: all rights reserved to the EANET.