Environment

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.

The Working Group on Environment (WGE) provides overall leadership and direction for the subregion's Core Environment Program.


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.

The GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) will focus on improving environmental sustainability and climate change resilience in the subregion. Environment and climate change challenges will be addressed through green technologies; protection of ecosystems and key ecological processes; climate resilience policies; and disaster-risk management, all of which will recognize the essential role that communities play as stewards of natural resources. A systematic effort will be made to mainstream climate change considerations into all GMS interventions, with a focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate-smart landscapes, and sustainable waste management, particularly in terms of healthy ocean and river systems, and the tackling of plastic pollution. GMS-2030 was endorsed and adopted at the 7th GMS Summit of Leaders in September 2021. It aims to provide a new setting for the development of this subregion for the next decade.

The Core Environment Program Strategic Framework and Action Plan 2018-2022 was endorsed by GMS ministers at the 5th GMS Environment Ministers' Meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand, held on 30 January – 1 February 2018. The 5-year environment strategy focuses on green technologies and sustainable infrastructure, natural resources and ecosystem services, and climate resilience and disaster risk management.

The GMS Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program (GMS CCESP), the third and current phase of the GMS Core Environment Program, supports environmental cooperation and green investments in the GMS. It covers six priority themes that were identified during the 24th Annual Meeting of the GMS WGE in 2019: (a) building climate and disaster resilience; (b) facilitating low carbon transitions; (c) promoting climate-smart landscapes; (d) enhancing environmental quality through pollution control and sustainable waste management; (e) deploying digital technologies for climate actions and environmental sustainability; and (f) financing low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure and technologies, including demonstrating climate and disaster risk financing instruments. The GMS CCESP builds on the achievements and lessons from the first two phases of the GMS Core Environment Program, and runs until 2025.

The GMS Core Environment Program was designed to help countries in the GMS 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 included 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.

Related

Summary of Proceedings

GMS CCESP Newsletters

GMS Core Environment Program website

Greater Mekong Subregion Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program (Brochure)

Focal Persons at the Asian Development Bank

  • Srinivasan Ancha
    Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division,
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Mark Bezuijen
    Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division,
    East Asia Department

Other Concerned Staff & Consultants

  • Asadullah Sumbal
    Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
    Southeast Asia Department
  • Rafaelita Jamon
    Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
    Southeast Asia Department/GMS Secretariat

Send inquiries to GMS SAFSP Secretariat and GMS Secretariat.

The Joint Declaration adopted at the 11th CLV Summit provides a foundation for the socio-economic development plan until 2030. Photo by VNA.

11th CLV Summit Commits to Strengthen Development Triangle Area

Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam (CLV) Leaders expressed their firm commitment to strengthen the CLV Development Triangle Area (DTA) in order to accelerate economic growth, alleviate poverty, and promote socio-cultural progress in the subregion. At the 11th CLV Summit held online on 9 December, they adopted a Joint Declaration that provides a foundation for the subregion’s socio-economic development plan until 2030 and the Tourism Development Plan. They also adopted the Development Plan for Sustainable Rubber Industry.  

GMS in the News

ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting Highlights ADB’s Efforts in Establishing the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility

The 6th ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting held virtually on 2 October acknowledged ADB’s efforts in operationalizing the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility (ACGF) as a platform for ASEAN green infrastructure under the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF).

GMS in the News

Mekong Countries, Republic of Korea Convene 10th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

The 10th Mekong-Republic of Korea (RoK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held on 28 September online, with the participation of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the RoK. The meeting highlighted achievements in cooperation on infrastructure, information technology, education, agriculture, environmental protection, and water resources management, and adopted the action plan for 2021-2025.

GMS in the News


Green Finance Strategies for Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery in Southeast Asia: Greening Recoveries for Planet and People

This publication examines innovative finance mechanisms for government recovery strategies that can incentivize green infrastructure investment in developing Asia and support the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.


Project Readiness Improvement Trust Fund: Promoting Readiness of Climate Resilient Investments in Southeast Asia

ADB’s Multi-Donor Project Readiness Improvement Trust Fund (PRI Fund) has been supporting Southeast Asia to build a pipeline of climate resilient design- and procurement-ready infrastructure projects. Watch the video showing how the PRI Fund helps such investments become shovel ready, innovative and catalytic, featuring Lao PDR’s Sustainable Rural Infrastructure and Watershed Management Sector Project.

Multimedia


ADB to Help Improve Water Resources of River Basin in Yunnan, PRC

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $100 million loan to clean up water resources and the environment of the Sayu River Basin in Yunnan Province, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The Sayu River Basin is an important area for ecological protection in the upper Yangtze River Basin. It is the only centralized drinking water source in Zhaotong City in Yunnan.

GMS in the News

ADB Supports Thailand’s Green, Social, and Sustainability Bonds for COVID-19 Recovery

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is assisting the Government of Thailand in designing, issuing, and monitoring innovative capital market initiatives as part of the country’s recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in a manner aligned with the 2015 Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

GMS in the News

Top row, left to right: Dr. Danucha Pichayanan, Deputy Secretary General, Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (Thailand); Mr. Liu Weihua, Deputy Director General, Department of International Economic and Financial Cooperation, Ministry of Finance (PRC); Mr. Alfredo Perdiguero, Director, SERC, ADB. Middle row: Mr. Than Aung Kyaw, Director General, FERD, Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (Myanmar). Bottom row, left to right: Ms. Sisomboun Ounavong, Director General, Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Planning and Investment (Lao PDR); Dr. Pham Hoang Mai, Director General, Foreign Economic Relations Department, Ministry of Planning and Investment (Viet Nam); and H.E. Mr. Ros Seilava, Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance (Cambodia) 

GMS Senior Officials’ Meeting Reviews COVID-19 Response Initiatives and Prepares for Upcoming Events

A GMS Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) was held on 11 September 2020 via web-based conferencing to review (i) proposed key GMS strategic planning documents and knowledge products, which includes GMS COVID-19 response initiatives and the new long-term strategy for the GMS program, and (ii) preparations for upcoming GMS events—the 11th Economic Corridors Forum (ECF-11), the 24th GMS Ministerial Conference (MC-24), and the 7th GMS Summit (Summit-7).  

Events