The concept of environmental security in Southeast Asia has assumed greater urgency in recent years. The Southeast Asian environmental crisis has long been a matter of concern at the regional level– long before the onset of economic crisis. Decades of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation without effective environmental management programmes have led to environmental degradation. Most countries have been grappling to clean up their major rivers, despoiled by industries and households using them as waste dumps in the absence of adequate infrastructure to treat wastes and dispose of them. On a bilateral basis, the question of trade or the sharing of resources such as water is a potential source of tension between countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and potentially, Indonesia. Since Singapore buys water from only one Malaysian State it has long been a source of irritation for the Malaysian people and its political leadership. If Southeast Asia is now part of a globalising world, the ownership and management of natural resources remain strictly a national concern. Environmental studies have highlighted however, that with globalisation, cities and affluent countries have ecological footprints, which are many times the sizes of the territories that they occupy. The need for trade and for sharing resources among nation-states in the region will grow over time. With diminishing supplies of such resources and contestation over them for even domestic needs, tensions are likely to grow not only within countries but also at the regional level. Unless the region as a whole adopts and effectively enforces common environmental standards, the problem could emerge as a potential source of conflict. The paper proposes to consider regional efforts which have been made to reach a common understanding about the management of natural resources and the setting of environmental standards. Environmental problems can threaten a nation’s security and economy — not only at national but regional levels as well. This paper intends to issues of clean water supplies.
Last updated on 01/07/2014