The South-East Asian Training of Trainers Seminar on Green Growth Policy Tools for Low-carbon Development was held at the Comsaed River Kwai Resort in Kanchanaburi, Thailand from 31 August –5 September 2009 and was generously supported by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The resort is about 40km outside of town, set in beautiful landscaped gardens on the banks of the River Kwai and has received numerous awards for sustainability.
The seminar focused on strengthening the capacity of policy makers from ASEAN member states. The course provided them with the tools and knowledge to develop and promote policies and strategies that would steer the current economic growth pattern towards a more eco-efficient and low carbon pattern while increasing resilience to and prevention of further climate change adversities. The seminar utilized the Green Growth training of trainers toolkit, expert advice, practical exercises, quizzes, group discussions, field trips and the recently released ADB study on the Economics of Climate Change in South-East Asia to educate participants about the Green Growth policy tools available that can be used to promote climate change action and low carbon development.
The curriculum and materials for the training were developed in-house by the Environment and Development Division’s capacity development team and are based on research, case studies and best practices from across the Asia-Pacific region. The training materials highlighted existing Green Growth policies which have already been introduced, were successful and which can be used in other Asia-Pacific developing countries. Among the expert resource people brought to the training were entrepreneurs involved in green businesses and government officials with experience developing and implementing Green Growth strategies both in national and local governments.
The first day of the training was a general introduction to climate change featuring a special documentary film commissioned by the British Government called “High Stakes”. Each of the following days consisted of presentations, group discussions, and participatory exercises on each of the Green Growth paths: Sustainable Consumption and Production; Greening Business; Sustainable Infrastructure & Investment in Natural Capital and Green Tax and Budget Reform. The training materials were printed with sustainability in mind, using recycled paper, soy-based ink and organic unbleached cotton for a set promotional T-shirts especially tailored for the event. All contributed to minimizing the environmental impact of the meeting.
The venue was built using natural, locally available materials and is an excellent case study of eco-tourism, sustainable consumption and green business. For example all the food waste is collected from the restaurant and then used to make organic pesticides, biogas for cooking and bio-fuels for running the vehicles of the eco-resort. The whole resort is powered by onsite biogas and a simple micro-hydro generator on the river. This low-tech equipment provides low cost renewable energy, reduces carbon emissions and is built using local materials while significantly reducing the resort’s running costs. The resort’s rooms have also been specially designed to maximize natural ventilation thus reducing the need for air conditioners. The biomass from the gardens is used for the production of compost and fertilizers while the fallen wood can be used as charcoal. These are then used to sustain the plants and crops which are also grown on-site. These organic agricultural practices supply organic, healthy food to the guests while preserving local traditional knowledge and livelihoods. This ensures that local knowledge and ingenuity are preserved while creating jobs and income from the sale of environmentally friendly products and services.
The resort also produces its own natural detergents, shampoos, soaps and shower gels from natural oils pressed out of the flowers of the indigenous trees and herbs in the gardens. These sustainable products are used in the rooms, sold in the gift shop as well as in Bangkok. The participants were given a tour of the different parts of the facility every day to learn first hand about these practices and to demonstrate what is possible in their home countries. These practices help add credence to the business case that Green Growth can be profitable.
The participants expressed their appreciation for the considerations made regarding Ramadan for the Muslim participants. This included a provision of a prayer room and specially prepared halaal food made at the appropriate times (4:30 am and 6:40 pm).
In addition, ESCAP decided to team up with the non-profit Plant-A-Tree-Today Foundation (www.plant-a-tree-today.org) who will be planting trees in Ban Nong Muang, North East Thailand to offset the CO2 produced by participants travelling to the venue.
Proceedings, presentations and other material from the seminar are available on the Green Growth Portal. Please click here to read more.