Investing in Natural Capital for a Sustainable Future in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Natural capital has been a key contributor to the Greater Mekong Subregion’s rapid economic growth over the past 3 decades or so. However, the subregion’s key natural capital stocks are in a state of decline. This is evident by the degradation of arable land; considerable losses in forests, wetlands, and mangroves; and many species of fauna and flora becoming endangered or even extinct.

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is poised to continue developing at a significant pace. It is well placed to benefit from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community because of its strategic geographic positioning, extensive subregional connectivity, and strong sense of community established through subregional cooperation.

However, the sustainability of the subregion’s future prosperity could be undermined unless the GMS invests significantly more in safeguarding and enhancing its natural capital.

Indeed, in the context of the subregion’s vulnerability to climate change, natural disasters, and human-induced shocks, investments in natural capital present some of the most economically viable and socially inclusive adaptation and resilience strategies. Investing in natural capital will greatly help the GMS realize inclusive and sustainable development.