ASEAN Centre for Climate Change aims for September open Centre will be a hub for climate research and data gathering

Head of the Brunei Climate Change Secretariat  (BCCS), Ahmad Zaiemaddien, speaks during an EU-Brunei policy seminar on Climate Change. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/The Scoop

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The ASEAN Centre for Climate Change is aiming to begin operations this September, according to the head of the Brunei Climate Change Secretariat (BCCS).

Ahmad Zaiemaddien Pehin Dato Hj Halbi said to get the centre “up and running”, they need to ratify the establishment agreement at the ministerial level, ideally during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment (AMME) this August.

Discussions at the working group and senior official level are ongoing to finalise the ratification, he told The Scoop on the sidelines of an EU-Brunei policy seminar on climate change which took place on Thursday.

“I’m proud of my team for taking it over the line because it hasn’t been easy. It requires constant back and forth with other ASEAN member states. I’m quite proud of the progress we’ve made,” Zaiemaddien said.

The centre will have a Bruneian serve as interim executive director, providing a great opportunity for local talent to drive its agenda and contribute to both diplomatic and research aspects, he added.

The Business Library at Universiti Brunei Darussalam is being refurbished to serve as the physical location for the centre, with the Public Works Department overseeing the project’s design and execution.

The Brunei government has pledged $2.1 million for the centre’s establishment.

Photo: Brunei’s pristine rainforests are rich in biodiversity.

As the centre begins operations, its focus will be on addressing regional environmental challenges and fostering equitable participation among ASEAN member states, Zaiemaddien said.

Governance of the centre will be overseen by an ASEAN governing board, similar to the board responsible for the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.

“At the start, it’s making sure that everyone’s in line and has the same strategy moving forward. It’s going to take time. The first 18 months to three years [will be an] opportunity for us to learn and improve,” Zaiemaddien said.

He explained that each ASEAN country has different national circumstances and priorities, making it crucial to find areas of common ground for effective collaboration.

The BCCS head added that the region’s access to capital and potential for nature-based solutions can drive progress in climate change adaptation. 

He shared that several ASEAN dialogue partners, including New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Japan, and Korea, have already offered assistance in terms of infrastructure, resources, and funding, with New Zealand donating NZD$500,000.

Regarding Brunei’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, he said the sultanate has surpassed the annual emission reduction targets outlined in the country’s climate change policy document.

In 2022, annual greenhouse gas emissions fell to 11.4 million tonnes of CO², surpassing the target of 15.82 million tonnes set by the government.

Detailed figures will be disclosed after the completion of the greenhouse gas country verification process, Zaiemaddien said, adding that Brunei’s progress lays a “strong foundation” for meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement, where it has pledged to slash emissions by 20% by 2030. 

The EU-Brunei Seminar on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation was organised by the EU-Brunei Partnership Facility. The Scoop is the official media partner for the event.