Sixth Asia and the Pacific Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development Opens in Astana

Forum on Adoption of Green Growth Policy Hosted by the Government of Kazakhstan and ESCAP

The Government of Kazakhstan, with the support of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), today officially opened the sixth Asia and the Pacific Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development – a critical regional forum held every five years - hosted this year in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana.

“The Senior Officials Meeting will prepare the ground for Ministers so that they achieve consensus in establishing a road map for environmental protection and development for Asia and the Pacific,” said Kazakhstan’s Minister for the Environment Ashimov Nurgali Sadvakasovich. “Through this Conference, the Asia-Pacific region needs to conquer the Everest of environmental and development challenges that face countries of our region.”

With the theme of “Green Development,” the Conference aims to provide opportunities for improving the quality of economic growth in the region through addressing environmental challenges. This Green Growth approach, which originated from the fifth ESCAP Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development held in Seoul 2005, can be implemented through cross-border and inter- regional programmes to harmonize environmental and development practices and strategies across the Asia-Pacific region.

“The United Nations recognizes Kazakhstan’s critical contribution in hosting this meeting of Asia’s environment ministers,” said Mr. Rae Kwon Chung, Director of ESCAP’s Environment and Development Division. “Green growth offers the unique opportunity for developing countries and emerging economies to leapfrog from the conventional and costly “pollute first and clean up later” trap to an ecologically-efficient, inclusive and sustainable growth paradigm.”

The Green Growth approach will continue to serve as the cornerstone strategy leading the region into an environmentally sustainable economic growth paradigm and helping to address the current triple challenges of converging economic, resource and ecological crises. According to research and policies advocated by ESCAP and the United Nations, a Green Growth approach requires a fundamental transformation of the conventional economic structure to effectively address economic, environmental and social challenges of the region through a concept of eco-efficiency.

The Conference comprises of two segments: a senior officials meeting from 27 September to 29 September and a ministerial segment on 1 and 2 October 2010, held at the Palace of Independence, in Astana. The senior officials segment consists of working-level sessions to review official documents concerning relevant issues on critical environment and development challenges and response strategies in the region, as well as draft outcome documents in preparation for the ministerial segment. Subsequently, high-level delegates including heads of states will deliberate on ways and means to achieve sustainable development through collaboration.

H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, and Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, will preside over the opening session of the ministerial segment and engage in a round table dialogue with other honorable guests in preparation for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Summit) to be held in Brazil in 2012.

Further, during the senior officials segment, well over 30 or so parallel and side events, plus exhibitions from various stakeholders and organizers will take place, for an enriching experience covering a breadth of topics. More detailed information about the events can be found in www.unescap.org/mced6.

H.E. Nurgali Ashimov, Minister of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Dr. Noeleen Heyzer will brief members of the press on 30 September 2010 from 12:00 to 12:35 in the Conference location at the Palace of Independence, Astana.