The Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi and the Ambassador of the European Union to ASEAN Igor Driesmans officially launched the Bike45Ride cycling event on August 13 in Jakarta, as ASEAN and EU celebrate 45 years of strategic partnership.

Representatives of ASEAN, EU Delegations and EU Member States marked the occasion with a symbolic ride from the ASEAN Secretariat to the premises of the EU Delegation in Jakarta.

Prior to flagging off the start of the Bike45Ride, Dato Lim Jock Hoi in his opening remarks noted that the activity not only serves as a credible platform to create public awareness of the work of ASEAN-EU but also a vital effort to encourage more people to shift towards sustainable transportation, according to an August 13 joint press release by the EU and ASEAN.

Of ASEAN’s population of over 650 million, nearly 300 million people live in urban areas and more than 25 percent live in cities with over one million inhabitants. In the next 15 years, ASEAN’s urban areas are expected to accommodate another 100 million people, it added.

With $5.2 million support from the EU for 2021-2024, the Smart Green ASEAN Cities (SGAC) programme will assist ASEAN Member States in finding smart green solutions to the high urbanisation rate through digitalisation and use of technology.

In his opening remarks, Driesmans said green growth and the environment are key strategic sectors of the EU’s partnership with ASEAN. The event not only marked 45 years of relations with ASEAN but also the EU’s commitment to continue working together towards a greener future, according to the press release.

“In the 45 years of partnership between our two regions, we have continuously worked to address our common challenges and to create a better future for both ASEAN and EU citizens. This bike ride aims to encourage all ASEAN and EU citizens in the region to take part in making our future greener,” he said.

“We have increasingly become partners in sustainability. Together, we have built a very important program to protect biodiversity across the region to sustainably manage wetlands – a very important programme,” Igor Driesmans said in a virtual press conference on August 13.

The Bike45Ride event is a virtual cycling competition organised from 13 August to 11 September 2022 for all ASEAN and EU citizens residing in the ten ASEAN Member States. Participants can take part as individuals or in a group of up to five to complete a total distance of 45km within the race period.

Cities are major sources of greenhouse gases, and analysis of the state of the atmosphere in the ASEAN region reveals that air pollution levels are increasing, with the energy and transport sectors being responsible for the largest carbon dioxide emissions, the press release quoted Fakri Karim, acting manager of ASEAN’s Smart Green ASEAN Cities Programme, as saying.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that it’s a very good initiative to work together to enhance the green agenda because the world today is facing many challenges including global warming and climate change related natural disasters. These environmental challenges have many consequences, especially food insecurity.

“Environmental issues go beyond borders, so a collective effort and commitment are very important to address these challenges. It’s time for the all groups to work together harder for all human beings and our planet,” he said.