Why Is Southeast Asia's Haze Problem So Hard to Resolve?

In late September 2015, large parts of Malaysia and Singapore were brought to a halt as smoke from Indonesia pushed the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) to dangerously high levels, with increasingly familiar effects: schools were closed, the most vulnerable became sick, health care services were stressed, and businesses that remained open saw commerce decline. And the problem appears to be as intractable as ever, despite decades of regional, national, academic and civil society attention.

In this article published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Jackson Ewing, Director of Asian Sustainability with the Asia Society Policy Institute, identifies three primary reasons why Southeast Asia’s haze problem continues to defy solutions:

  • Indonesia’s palm oil and pulp and paper sectors are booming, and the primary actors in these sectors resist efforts to enforce haze prevention policies
  • The source areas of the haze are getting hotter and drier, which allows fires to burn for weeks and to spread well beyond the areas where they begin
  • Recent efforts the redoubled efforts to combat the haze are relatively new and will take time to be effective

Download the Article

Southeast Asia’s Haze Problem: Why So Hard To Resolve? (PDF, 341 KB)

File provided courtesy of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies