In the first week of September the 7th Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trilateral meeting (T7) was held in Brunei and followed by a meeting of the three ministers with responsibility over the Initiative.
“It is our responsibility to keep the heart beating,” said Ms. Hajah Normah S. H. Jamil, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam in her opening speech delivered at the T7 meeting.
The two day T7 meeting from 4-5 September delivered some key decisions to be highlighted. First, the meeting marked an agreement between the three countries to review five years of cooperation. The review, which will be ready for the next HoB annual meeting in Indonesia, will formally assess progress towards the declaration and the trilateral strategic plan of action (SPA) since its inception in 2008 and make recommendations on how to improve. It is expected that the review will lead to an update of the governments’ trilateral strategic plan.
The three countries also agreed on a definition for their approach to the HoB, adopting the document ‘A Green Economy Approach to Deliver Sustainable Development in the Heart of Borneo’ as formal reference for Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Continuing the spirit of transboundary cooperation, the meeting acknowledged the need to set some practical examples of collaboration. A proposal from Brunei outlined a number of joint steps that could be taken, although a final decision was postponed pending further clarification on the proposal.
Another key thing from the T7 meeting that was also important to highlight is HoB’s one of key stakeholders, civil society. For the first time the local community, represented by FORMADAT, an alliance of communities in the Borneo Highlands, was formally invited to the meeting. They expressed their willingness to participate in the HoB initiative and Indonesia proposed that community-based initiatives across the international border and in the upstream areas of the interior of the Heart of Borneo to be facilitated and supported as part of the HoB Initiative. The proposal was received with general agreement.
Equally important to the T7 meeting was the special ministerial meeting held two days later after the annual meeting – the first such meeting since the launch of the HoB. Two ministers and one deputy minister in charge of the HoB Initiative met and expressed their recommitment through the Bandar Seri Begawan Joint Statement.
Overall T7 demonstrated that the government will to succeed was strong. The next challenge is to keep this momentum and commitment going until the next trilateral meeting in 2014.