Southeast Asia is a region endowed with abundant natural resources; however, the situation of many environmental sources is currently in a stage of deterioration. According to the ASEAN 4th State of the Environment Report (2009), Southeast Asia has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world (around 1.11 per cent from the global average of 0.16 per cent annually); the mangrove areas were reduced by 18 per cent between 1980 and 2005. The same report highlighted that an estimated 88 per cent of coral reefs are threatened by human activities; the high volume of illegal wildlife trade could wipe out between 13 and 42 per cent of the region’s plant and animal species in this century; most of the region’s main rivers are reported to be polluted; the marine ﬁsh stock had fallen by 50 per cent; air pollution levels in Southeast Asian cities were amongst the highest in the world; and the burning of vegetation related to agriculture often spreads and creates serious trans-boundary haze pollution affecting people in vast areas. The region is also threatened by climate-change consequences like the rise of sea levels, downward trend of rainfall and the emergence of various natural disasters. Since most Southeast Asian countries (except Singapore) are developing coun-
tries and there is still a high percentage of the population living in poverty and depending on agriculture and ﬁshing, the resulting tension between economic development, sustaining basic livelihoods of the rural poor and environmental protection is a serious problem for ASEAN countries. In particular, how to promote the sustainable development of natural resources, prevent or alleviate transboundary pollution harmful effects and resolve environmental disputes are major challenges faced by ASEAN. In order to tackle these problems more effectively, the ASEAN environmental cooperative mechanism needs to be further enhanced. This chapter aims to explore possible approaches to promote sustainability and
ocean governance in this region. Based on the concept of sustainable development and the strengths and deﬁciencies of the current cooperation, a procedural perspective is taken to discuss the future development of the ASEAN cooperation mechanism on marine environment. The procedural approach is useful in highlighting the concerns at any given point in time, allowing the reader to understand how effectiveness is built gradually and highlighting what else needs to be done.