UN Envoy urges Asia -Pacific to turn climate change into new economic opportunities

ESCAP Committee heard Han Seung-soo in opening session

A United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, Han Seung-soo, today called on Asian- Pacific countries to find a way to avoid further environmental deterioration while pursuing economic growth.

Speaking in Bangkok at the Committee on Managing Globalization of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Mr. Han noted the need for rapid economic growth in Asia and the Pacific – home to two thirds of the world’s poor. However, he pointed out, actions on climate change could be compatible with economic growth. “We can turn the crisis of climate change into a new economic opportunity”, said the former president of the UN General Assembly.

Mr. Han applauded ESCAP for its Green Growth initiative, which calls for a paradigm change in thinking of growth and argues for ecological costs to be fully reflected in market prices.

The Special Envoy reiterated the hope that the upcoming Bali conference would serve as a starting point for negotiations of the post-Kyoto arrangements. For the new mechanism to be successful, Mr. Han said, it needed the participation of all countries; but the role of 15 major emitters would be crucial.

Mr. Han’s view was echoed by Mr. Shigeru Mochida, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP. While the region should continue to pursue economic growth to overcome poverty, the paradigm should shift from quantity to quality of growth, said Mr. Mochida. He also underlined the importance of inter-agency and intergovernmental cooperation in ESCAP initiatives in promoting the use of information, communication and space technologies (ICSTs) for addressing cross-border issues and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Climate change, environment and sustainable development, and regional infrastructure and applications of ICSTs are the main topics of the current session of the Committee.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Sue Lo-Utai, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology of the Royal Thai Government, looked forward to member States, through the Committee, to strongly support the efforts of ESCAP in promoting policies and strategies to address climate change, eco-efficiency and energy security through regional cooperation. He added that Governments and other stakeholders must seize the opportunities provided by regional cooperation and integration and the rapid growth of ICT to build a knowledge-based economy in the region.

The Committee session will conclude on 21 November with the adoption of a report containing recommendations for submission to the ESCAP Commission at its sixty-fourth session next March.