UN forum unveils new regional roadmap to low-carbon economy

Business leaders and governments meeting this week at a United Nations forum in China unveiled a roadmap for promoting low-carbon economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific Business Forum in Kunming, which concludes today, recognized that combating climate change is a major challenge and identified opportunities for the Asia and Pacific region to meet the double objective of economic development and long-term sustainability. Participants said the region has the capacity to lead the development of a roadmap to low-carbon development, requiring the region to come up with its own strategy and early action, with proper differentiation to meet different development contexts.

Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), noted that embracing low-carbon development requires a fundamental change in the way energy is produced and used – opening a potential market of over $9 trillion by 2030 in the Asia-Pacific region alone.

Because this will not happen automatically, “collaboration between the public and the private sector to create markets and grasp the huge business opportunities of low-carbon goods and services should be promoted,” Dr. Heyzer said. In the end, “increased regional dialogue and cooperation among diverse stakeholders will be vital to sustain low-carbon economic growth in the long-run.”

Forum participants agreed that regional cooperation is needed to address critical climate change-related issues such as drought. They fully supported the efforts to develop a regional cooperative mechanism on drought disaster monitoring and early warming, to assist drought-prone countries in the region to build operational capacity through sharing of relevant technical and information resources and services, based on a multi-stakeholder approach.

The forum also recognized the importance of developing partnerships among public, private and civil society organizations. The business sector has a unique and critical role to play in converting climate change challenges to business opportunities. A region-wide network of green business can give Asia-Pacific business a voice in economic, social and ecological issues of global importance. Governments have to create an enabling policy environment and to provide appropriate incentives.

International organizations such as ESCAP promote regional cooperation. All have responsibilities in achieving a low-carbon economy for common global prosperity.

The Forum, which had the theme, “Business Opportunities and Low-Carbon Economy,” brought together some 230 representatives from the private sector, governments, civil society and international organizations, and was co-organized by ESCAP and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).

For more information please visit the website www.unescap.org/apbf