Green growth key to Asia-Pacific food and energy security, ESCAP tells global forum

Asia-Pacific countries can cushion themselves against food and fuel price shocks and natural disasters by more efficient use of resources and energy, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) told a forum of world leaders here today.

“Green growth remains an essential and urgent task for enhancing the energy and food security of each country (in the Asia-Pacific region),” UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer told the Global Green Growth Summit organized by the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The one-day Summit, marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of OECD, brought together 800 participants from 25 countries.

The current “energy, resource and carbon intensive” development pattern must give way to “Green Growth” to reduce wasteful use of resources and energy, Dr. Heyzer said, adding that this was particularly important at a time when the Asia-Pacific region faces triple threats from recurring climate-related natural disasters and soaring food and fuel prices. Latest ESCAP estimates show that rising food and oil prices can keep an additional 42 million people in the region in poverty in 2011.

The region is also the world’s most vulnerable to natural disasters, with its people four times more likely to be affected by nature’s wrath than those in Africa and 25 times more likely than those in Europe or North America.

“Green Growth, as one of the strategies to achieve sustainable development by improving the efficiency of the way we use our energy, resources, and in particular carbon, is no longer only an ecological conditionality but also an imperative to improve resilience of our economy against energy, food and resource price volatility,” Dr. Heyzer told the Summit.

“For Asia and the Pacific, a region whose efficiency in using energy and resources still remains low, improving the efficiency of our production and consumption will provide us with a new engine of growth,” the ESCAP chief pointed out.

Green growth needs to be linked to inclusive and equitable economic initiatives and can be part of regional, subregional and bilateral development initiatives and partnerships. ESCAP has been pioneering green growth in the region, an example being the 2010 Astana Green Bridge Initiative linking Europe with Asia and the Pacific which will promote inter-regional cooperation in pro-poor, pro-environment growth. ESCAP is also developing a Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for the region funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea.

The world will have the chance at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil to commit itself to a global green economic growth model based on a partnership between rich and poor nations, Dr.Heyzer said.