Southeast Asian nations declared Tuesday they would increase efforts to reduce pollution and strengthen the conservation of their resources, saying the effects of climate change must be urgently addressed.
"ASEAN cannot ignore the increasingly obvious and worrying signs of climate change," said Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister of Singapore, which is hosting the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Leaders of the 10-member bloc issued a declaration to promote their efforts toward a sustainable environment.
The measures include achieving an "aspirational goal" of planting trees to cover at least 10 million hectares (25 million acres) in the region by 2020 to absorb greenhouse gases, according to the declaration signed Tuesday.
Members said they would promote the use of renewable and alternative energy sources, such as solar, hydro and wind, as well as civilian nuclear power, the declaration said.
The declaration states climate change and energy policies should not introduce barriers to trade and investment.
On pollution, ASEAN said it would boost regional cooperation to tackle the choking haze in the region caused by manmade forest fires to clear land for palm oil plantations, mostly in Indonesia.
The group also signed a declaration in support of the U.N. climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, next month.
Environmental group Greenpeace International welcomed the declarations, but said the documents lacked specific targets.
"It would certainly help to come up with ambitious renewable energy targets and efficiency targets so that it can create genuine incentives to formulate policies that will bring massive investments to the region," said Red Constantino, a Manila-based Greenpeace campaigner.
Lee had earlier acknowledged that for many countries, it would be a challenge to strengthen efforts to address environmental issues without compromising competitiveness or economic growth.
"Unbridled growth without heed to environmental consequences will ultimately be disastrous," Lee said. "But neither can countries lightly sacrifice economic growth and higher living standards for our peoples."
ASEAN's members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.