Faced with high energy costs hitting economies of the region, leaders of Association of South East Asian Nations and their dialogue partners on Monday agreed to strengthen regional cooperation on energy security and tasked their officials to look into regional nuclear safety regime.
The Cebu Declaration on Energy Security signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 15 other leaders-- ten from Asean and five dialogue partners besides India-- seeks to help the countries in the region reduce their dependence on conventional fuels through intensified energy efficiency programmes, expansion of renewable energy systems and bio-fuel production and utilisation.
The leaders stressed the need to improve energy use efficiency and the diversification of energy supply by developing alternative sources such as bio-fuels and civilian nuclear power, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said.
The prime minister, in a free-wheeling discussion with the leaders, underlined the importance of development of low carbon technologies and emphasised that substantial investment was required by countries of the region in infrastructure and development of clean coal technologies.
The leaders agreed to pay close attention to the security, environmental, health and safety dimensions of the energy sector. The leaders directed their officials to look into regional nuclear safety regime, Arroyo said.
Leaders from the Asean countries expressed serious concern over the negative impact of high oil prices on the economic growth and development of not only on their respective country but on the region as a whole.
To address this problem, the Asean agreed as a strategic approach to strengthen and promote Asean energy cooperation, including in key infrastructure projects like the Asean power grid and trans-Asean gas pipeline, the Philippine President said adding that the ultimate goal of the grouping was to create an open energy market.
Other areas of cooperation that came up for consideration were finance, education, the recent phenomenon of avian influenza, which had affected some of the South East Asian countries and joint efforts in dealing with natural disasters.The ADB President presented a report on the East Asia regional, economic and financial situation.