Asia-Pacific countries gather to discuss regional cooperation on environment and development

ESCAP DES Opens Third Session of Committee on Environment and Development
Photo Credit: UN ESCAP/Suwat C.

Senior government representatives from 16 Asia-Pacific countries wrapped up a three-day meeting this week that focused on regional cooperation related to environment and development.

Convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from 29-31 October, the third Session of the Committee on Environment and Development reviewed the outcomes of key regional forums convened by ESCAP related to sustainable development, and provided direction on ESCAP's support in response to emerging and persistent development challenges.

Rapid urbanization, energy security and sustainable use of energy, depletion of natural capital, climate change impacts and challenges related to water access, scarcity and pollution were among the key issues highlighted by delegates.

“The global and regional agenda on environment and development is progressing at a fast pace. Since we last met, a number of global and regional initiatives and commitments vital to the post-2015 agenda and for the realization of sustainable development goals have been affirmed by member States. The United Nations system have mainstreamed these, with ESCAP playing a leading role in Asia and the Pacific,” ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary Mr. Shun-ichi Murata told the Committee.

“By shaping Asia and the Pacific’s future, we also have the opportunity to shape the world’s future. The size and dynamism of the Asia-Pacific region means that not only will our economies continue to be the engine of global economic growth, but also that our regional approach to development will increasingly influence the post-2015 global development agenda,” he added.

Government interventions from countries as diverse as the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Nepal highlighted the strong commitment of governments of the region to sustainable development. They also shared important initiatives, including that of the Government of Kazakhstan’s invitation to ESCAP member States and regional stakeholders to join the Charter of the Green Bridge Partnership Programme that has been signed by several governments of both Europe and Asia.

The Committee made several recommendations on the upcoming global processes related to sustainable development, including the organization of the regional meeting of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, in early 2014.The Committee meeting was also marked by active participation of ESCAP’s partners who shared information on collaboration in several areas, including sustainable consumption and production in ASEAN, sustainable human settlements and low emissions development strategies in the region. Civil society representatives participating in the meeting emphasized the need for stronger engagement between the UN system and civil society at the regional level.

The outcomes of the Committee meeting will be reviewed by the 70th session of ESCAP in 2014.