Greater Mekong Subregion Ministers to Move to New Phase of Environmental Cooperation

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (26 July 2011) - Environment ministers of the six Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries are expected to decide on the program framework for continued regional environmental cooperation when they hold the 3rd GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting on 28 July.

The meeting will be opened by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The GMS countries have engaged in regional environmental cooperation since 2006 through the Core Environment Program and Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (CEP-BCI). This $30 million program is expected to end in December 2011 and is cofinanced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Governments of Finland, Netherlands and Sweden, and the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund supported by PRC. The GMS countries are Cambodia, PRC, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

The CEP-BCI has successfully demonstrated approaches and tools for sound environmental management and biodiversity conservation. These include the application of Strategic Environmental Assessments, the piloting of biodiversity conservation corridors, Geographic Information System-based tools for land use planning, environmental performance monitoring, and innovative approaches to conservation financing. Senior government officials representing each of the countries will present progress on the first phase and the strategic framework for the follow-on phase to be implemented 2012-2016.

In the past two decades ADB has approved US$1.7 billion for loans and $215 million for technical assistance projects with biodiversity conservation components. Since 1992, ADB has been a partner of the GMS Economic Cooperation Program. In the GMS, ADB has provided technical assistance grants of over $57 million for specific environmental initiatives. CEP-BCI is a flagship program under the GMS Economic Cooperation Program.

“The GMS is one of the most economically robust subregions of the world with most countries posting impressive growth rates exceeding 5-10 per cent in the past two decades. Much of this growth has depended on harnessing the subregion’s valuable natural resources. The challenge ahead is how to balance inclusive growth with the sustainable use of natural resources,” said Kunio Senga, Director General of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The CEP-BCI will address this issue by integrating environmental considerations in investment decisions of key economic sectors - such as agriculture, energy, tourism and transport - and in the development of economic corridors across the GMS.

Last Updated: 26 July 2011