UN Meeting Stresses Changing Development Patterns to Sustain Economic Growth

With the Asia-Pacific region being home to two thirds of the world’s poor, having high vulnerability to the effects of climate change, and in need of increased economic growth to recover from the current crisis, the application of “Green Growth” as a possible solution was the focus of a UN meeting opening today in Bangkok .

The three day meeting, held at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), is the First Session of ESCAP’s Committee on Environment and Development. Delegates from across the region will discuss trends and progress in the field of environment and development while highlighting implementation programmes.
In his opening address Mr. Shigeru Mochida, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP said the region’s current challenges require a new approach to development.

“Green Growth can promote social inclusiveness while realizing environmental sustainability,” said Mr. Mochida. “The Asia-Pacific region has an opportunity to provide leadership in the global transition towards more environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive development.”
Green Growth was first adopted at an ESCAP conference in 2005 by governments of Asia and the Pacific as a regional strategy which brings together economic growth and environmental sustainability objectives and fosters socially inclusive and sustainable development.

In the keynote address delivered on behalf of, Mr. Nurgali Ashimov, Minister of Environmental Protection in Kazakhstan invited all delegates to the 6 th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2010, as an opportunity to promote regional cooperation on Green Growth.

The first day of the meeting featured a panel discussions on the key challenges and opportunities in the area of environment and development.

Dr Akanksha Chaurey of the Energy Resources Institute in India , pointed to the expected more than 60 per cent increase in regional energy consumption by 2030 and advocated decentralization of energy systems such as the use of solar power as a means to compensate for the inefficiency of kerosene, the fuel of the poor.

“Energy efficiency and renewable energy goes hand in hand,” Dr Chaurey said, “and implementation should go rapidly beyond demonstration and pilot programmes and be incorporated in other development programmes such as education and health.”

Ms. Syeda Rizwana Hasan of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association said “Integration of the Green Growth concept in Bangladesh is not rhetorical, but the process is slow. There is a need to place people at the centre in planning development and creating and providing jobs.”

Ms. Mary Jane Ortega of CITYNET - a Network committed to helping local authorities improve the lives of citizens and create the urban sustainability - stressed that implementation is at local level, be it greening energy, solid waste or water infrastructure.

“Awareness and incentives need to be enhanced and provided at local levels to encourage the implementation of Green Growth concept,” she said.

The panel also included Prof. Emeritus Ryokichi Hirono, Environmental Partnership Council, Japan.

The Committee meeting continues until Friday 4 December, and will include a side event called the “Bazaar of Ideas: Applying the Green Growth approach for basic service delivery and poverty reduction.” The Bazaar showcases 10 successful Green Growth programmes and presents how they are done.