In the Greater Mekong Subregion, 200 million people in rural areas depend on their surrounding environment for food, water, energy, and income. Forests, wetlands, mangroves, farmlands, and other ecosystems account for between 20% and 55% of the subregion's wealth.
These natural ecosystems – and the food, water, energy and other vital elements they provide – lie at the heart of the development of the Greater Mekong Subregion. How these natural resources are protected, managed, and enhanced will determine the long-term sustainability of its environment and economic development.
Overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, vulnerability to climate change, and ever-increasing natural disasters are threatening these ecosystems. In addition, environmental degradation is posing risks to sustained long-term growth, and could cost a whopping $55 billion in foregone services over the next 25 years if left unchecked.
Unless there is better planning and management, the subregion’s resource-intensive development approach could lead to food shortages, price shocks, health hazards, and environmental damage that impact thousands of families and put businesses at risk.
To address these issues, the six GMS countries are partnering to protect and enhance their natural capital through the GMS Core Environment Program with the vision of a poverty-free and ecologically rich subregion.
The program is administered by the Asian Development Bank and overseen by the GMS Working Group on the Environment, made up of representatives of the GMS environment ministries. The work is coordinated by the GMS Environment Operations Center, which is hosted by ADB’s Thailand Resident Mission.
With support from this program, countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion are working to meet the increasing demand for food, energy, water, and other natural resources, while at the same time ensuring that resources are available for future generations. This includes balancing rapid growth with sustainable practices, and protecting vital water resources, controlling floods, preserving biodiversity and critical ecosystems, and mitigating the impacts of urban expansion.
• Fourth GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting: Joint Ministerial Statement (Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 29 January 2015)
• Third GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting: Joint Ministerial Statement (Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 28 July 2011)
• Second GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting: Joint Ministerial Statement (Vientiane, Lao PDR29 January 2008)
• First GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting: Joint Ministerial Statement (Shanghai, PRC, 25 May 2005)
• Summary of Proceedings of the Working Group on the Environment
• GMS Core Environment Program Website