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 Beijing Ruentex Environment Technology Group is a designated destination for disposing “medical wastes related to COVID-19” and “domestic wastes related to COVID-19” by the Beijing Municipal Emergency Response Headquarters for COVID-19 Caused Pneumonia. The company developed emergency plans and measures, and scientifically allocated resources for the disposal of epidemic-related medical wastes. Photo by ADB.

The Lopburi solar power plant in central Thailand. Photo by ADB.

Eight Priorities for Kickstarting Post-Pandemic Green and Resilient Recovery in the GMS

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted people’s health and well-being, led to widespread job loss, and created extraordinary uncertainty with long-lasting effects. As with climate change, the pandemic has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable people across the globe, including those in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).  

GMS in the News

The GMS Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Project in Viet Nam provided alternative incomes to K’ho natives like Cil Yu Ha Vuong, who patrols the forest with his fellow community members. Photo by ADB.

Post-Pandemic Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation and Wildlife Management in the GMS

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has proved how human health, animal health, plant health, and the health of the environment are all closely interconnected as “One Health”. “We have seen many diseases emerge over the years. Most of them originated from animal populations under conditions of severe environmental pressures,” said Mr. Ramesh Subramaniam, Director General, Southeast Asia Regional Department, speaking at the opening of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Working Group Meeting on Environment held via video conferencing on 23 June 2020.  

GMS in the News

Areenee Jasiti is a store assistant manager in Thailand where convenience stores have remained open, despite COVID-19. Convenience stores are one of Thailand's lifelines. Photo: UN Women/Ploy Phutpheng (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

$1.5 Billion ADB Loan to Support Thailand's COVID-19 Response

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $1.5 billion loan to support the Government of Thailand’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

GMS in the News

Green investments generate significant jobs and sustainable benefits to economies. Photo: ADB

6 Ways to Jumpstart a Green Recovery from COVID-19

In the popular imagination, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been a boon for the natural world. With more than a third of the global population under some level of lockdown, we’ve delighted to see skies burst back into blueness and wild animals venturing into urban neighborhoods. It’s been easy to convince ourselves that wildlife and the environment have flourished. The truth, however, isn’t so reassuring. The pandemic has created an increase in poaching, animal trafficking, illegal fishing and other environmental crimes.

News

Mekong River Commission Joint Committee Endorses Basin Development Strategy

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Joint Committee endorsed ad-referendum the 10-year Basin Development Strategy. The Strategy aims to guide Mekong River Basin stakeholders in addressing environmental, social, and economic issues arising from climate change, water resource development projects, and population increase. Its endorsement paves the way for a final consideration and approval by the MRC’s council of ministers. 

GMS in the News

Scenes of healthcare workers at Thailand Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute, Ministry of Public Health. Photo: UN Women/ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Greater Mekong Subregion Senior Officials Convene Meeting on COVID-19 Response

Senior officials of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) met to discuss responses to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the GMS, focusing on regional approaches to promote recovery and resilience. The meeting was held via videoconferencing on 2 June 2020, with participation from all GMS countries and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).  

Events

A 24/7 automatic dispensing machine provides free rice for people out of work following the lockdown. This was spearheaded by a Vietnamese entrepreneur in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Reuters on Twitter.

Initiative Gathers Mekong Innovations Spurred by the COVID-19 Pandemic

An initiative by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), Destination Mekong, and the Mekong Institute (MI) taps individuals' help in crowdsourcing newly-spotted innovations on how the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is being managed and/or overcome in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

GMS in the News

24th Annual Meeting of the Working Group on Environment

The members of the Working Group on Environment (WGE) from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), namely, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, met in Kunming, PRC on 1 April 2019 for the 24th  Annual Meeting of the WGE (WGE 24) and attended the Consultation Workshop on Proposed GMS Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program (CCESP) from 1 to 2 April 2019.