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Highlights for Thursday, 24 March 2005

The Preparatory Meeting of Senior Officials for the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific convened on Thursday, 24 March 2005 at Hotel Lotte Seoul, the Republic of Korea. The Civil Society Forum continued to discuss the role of civil society in promoting green growth. The Eminent Scientists Symposium and the Environmental Technology Forum also convened.

Above photo L-R: Opening dais to the Preparatory Meeting of Senior Officials to the MCED 2005 with
Hak-Su Kim, UNESCAP Executive Secretary; Kyul-Ho Kwak, Minister of  Environment, Republic of Korea and Rae Kwon Chung, ESCAP

Opening Session: Preparatory Meeting of Senior Officials to the MCED 2005

Above photos L-R: Hak-Su Kim, UNESCAP Executive Secretary and Rae Kwon Chung, ESCAP with Kyul-Ho Kwak (left center), Minister of  Environment, Republic of Korea and Park Young Woo (right center), Chair of MCED 2005.

In his opening statement, Hak-Su Kim, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, said that the region’s fast economic growth has imposed increasing pressure on the environment and underscored the importance of shifting the paradigm to green growth. Noting that the region has 60% of the world’s population with 1/5 living in extreme poverty, Kyul-Ho Kwak, Korean Minister of Environment, called upon delegates to consider the Seoul Initiative for Green Growth that is designed to balance environment and economic growth.

Delegates elected by acclamation the officers of the meeting: Park Young Woo (above right) (Republic of Korea) as Chairperson, Liana Bratasida (Indonesia), Sudhir Mita (India), Luo Delong (China), Tu’u’u Ieti Taule’alo (Samoa), and Sergey Samoylov (Uzbekistan) as Vice Chairpersons, and Muhammad Zahir Shah (Pakistan) as Rapporteur.

Delegates also adopted the provisional agenda (E/ESCAP/SO/MCED(05)/L.1 and L.2) without amendments.

Briefing on the Recent Tsunami and Regional Response Strategy: Hak-Su Kim outlined ESCAP’s approaches to disaster mitigation, including: network building; technical cooperation; and partnership among UN and other organizations. He said that the regional disaster reduction strategy should be based on the “Living with Risks” concept. Stanley Goosby, Pacific Disaster Center, US, demonstrated use of computer simulation and modeling for tsunami prediction, preparedness and response. Kenji Suzuki, Japan Water Forum, spoke on reducing impacts of natural disasters through early warning.

INDONESIA, INDIA, and THAILAND briefed participants on national efforts for relief and rehabilitation of tsunami stricken areas, as well as for raising awareness on disaster preparedness. REPUBLIC OF KOREA noted its aid to tsunami-stricken countries and offered more technical assistance. ASIAN AND PACIFIC COCONUT COMMUNITY (APCC) stressed tsunami impacts on the livelihoods of coconut farmers.

Above photos L-R: Ponniah Rethinam, APCC; Kenji Suzuki, Japan Water Forum, Stanley Goosby, Pacific Disaster Center, US

Review of the State of the Environment in Asia and the Pacific: The Secretariat presented the review of the state of the environment in Asia and the Pacific, 2005 (E/ESCAP/SO/MCED/(05)/1).

MALAYSIA noted that the country has strengthened its institutional framework to improve environmental performance. The PHLIPPINES highlighted challenges faced by the country: widespread poverty, immature economies, and limited institutional capacity. MYANMAR stressed the need for a systematic integration of environmental programs. NIUE said achieving economical self-sufficiency is a priority for the country, and stressed regional partnerships to overcome limited technical and financial resources.

INDIA said that poverty reduction could only be pursued with environmental sustainability. CHINA said that achieving economic growth and poverty reduction while increasing production efficiency is a great challenge to the region. INDONESIA stressed capacity building for developing countries to achieve green growth. UZBEKISTAN suggested a multi-sectoral approach to environmental problems and called for regional cooperation. Citing a North Eastern Asia project on sandstorms, REPUBLIC OF KOREA highlighted sharing know-how and learning lessons from each other. THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION stressed the need to take into account all environmental considerations in developing new strategies for sustainable development. ASIAN AND PACIFIC COCONUT COMMUNITY stressed economic and environmental benefits of coconut products.  

Above photos L-R: Liana Bratasida, Indonesia; David U. Poihega, Niue; and Juan E. Dayang, the Philippines

Assessment of Progress in the Promotion of Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific: The Secretariat introduced the following documents: Review of the Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Phnom Penh Regional Platform on Sustainable Development for Asia and the Pacific and the Recommendations of MCED-4 (E/ESCAP/SO/MCED(05)/2), and Review of the Implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment (E/ESCAP/SO/MCED(05)/3). 

THAILAND highlighted that partnership is
a key factor for regional initiatives and said poverty eradication is its top priority. Stressing the needs and concerns of the Pacific Island countries, AUSTRALIA said initiatives for sustainable development should take into account other socio-economic considerations. AFGHANISTAN outlined major environmental problems that the country faces and said progress has been made in strengthening environmental institutional and policy frameworks. TAJIKISTAN highlighted national efforts towards sustainable development and poverty alleviation. INDIA emphasized that the Phnom Penh Regional Platform is a significant input into a global process and stressed regional monitoring of national implementation. JAPAN commended successful progress and tangible outcomes of the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative. 

Ministerial Declaration:
The Secretariat presented the draft Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/SO/MCED(05)/4) and a conference theme paper on achieving environmentally sustainable economic growth in Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/SO/MCED(05)/4). Chair Woo deferred discussion to Friday, 25 March.

Above photos L-R: Chalermsak Wanichsombut, Thailand; Kevin Keefe, Australia; T.P. Seetharam and Sudir Mital, India and Mohamad Akbar Khalid, Afghanistan

The Forum continued discussion in a series of sessions. 

Green Growth and Energy Efficiency: Mika Ohbayashi, Japan, cited policies, technology and transparency as key elements for renewable energy development. Yunmook Nah, Republic of Korea  introduced the energy efficiency promotion program of the Citizens Consumers Korea. Yang Bin, China, outlined efforts and plans for the development of renewable energy in China.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): N.H.Choudhury, Bangladesh, said that growth of ICT is affecting the environment, and that any successful ICT project should ensure ecological sustainability. Jong-Chun Roh, Republic of Korea, recommended that ICT should be used for environmental education.

Strategies for Sustainable Consumption and Production: Roopa Vajpeyi, India, recommended using culture and tradition for achieving sustainable consumption and production. Jeong Hee Park, Republic of Korea, urged the Government to enact laws and regulations on environment education in schools. J.V. Garganera, the Philippines, advocated localizing sustainable development and talked about methods and tools in mobilizing CSOs in local development planning. Afifa Raihana, Bangladesh, stressed education and experience sharing among youth.  

Participants adopted the Seoul Statement of the Civil Society Forum, which will be reported to the ministerial segment of MCED 2005. 

Above photos L-R: Hyo-Shin Park, Republic of Korea; Hoo-Seo Park, Republic of Korea; Ken-ichi Yamazaki, Japan; Oh-Song Kwon, Republic of Korea; Affa Raihana, Bangladesh; Eung-Hwi Chun, Republic of Korea; N. H. Choudhury, Bangladesh; In-Sook Yoon, Republic of Korea; Roopa Vajpeyi, India; Jeong-Hee Park, Republic of Korea; Jung-Gil Ryoo, Republic of Korea; and J. V. Garganera, the Philippines.


The Symposium was organized by the Korea Environment Institute, ESCAP and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. Opening statements were made by: Hak-Su Kim, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Kyul-Ho Kwak, Minister of Environment, Republic of Korea, and Suh-Sung Yoon, Korean Economic Institute. Mostafa Tolba (left), the Symposium Chair, gave a keynote speech on scientific responsibilities in addressing climate change and other environmental issues.

Science, the Earth and Its Climate: Participants heard presentations by: Kevin Noone (above left), on earth science in support of sustainable development; Hoe-Sung Lee, on anthropogenic interference with the climate system; Jan van der Leun (third from left), on interactions between ozone depletion and climate change; David Carson (second from left), on Coordinated Observation and Prediction of Earth System; and Honglie Sun (above right), on development and science in China. 

Sustainable Development: Participants heard presentations by: Shashi Kant, on the dominant economic paradigm and sustainable development; Chin-Seung Chung, on dispute resolution for sustainable development; Anoja Wickramasinghe, on poverty and environmental degradation; Wen Gang, on country self-assessment of China; and Monowar Hossain, on environment, development and poverty.  

National and Regional Perspectives: This session heard presentations by: Adyasuren Tsokhio (above left) , on impacts of global climate on Mongolia; Asylbek Aidaraliev, on sustainable development of mountain territories in Central Asia; John Hay (above right), on global change and the Pacific; Kwi-Gon Kim (third photo from left) , on mitigating global change; Nguyen Huu Ninh (second photo from left), on the Indochina Global Change Network; and Bindu N. Lohani, on environmental trends, challenges and future directions in Asia and the Pacific.  

Water Resources and Sanitation: This session heard featured presentations by: Mi Mi Kyi, on the dry zone in Myanmar; Vladimir Smakhtin, on water resources in South Asia; Saburo Matsui, on global sanitation and nutrient control; and Eui-So Choi, on nitrogen as an indicator toward  sustainable water.


The Forum was organized by Environmental Management Corporation, Republic of Korea, and Korea Institute of Environment Science & Technology. Participants heard keynote speeches on the policy for development and propagation of environmental technology, the trend of new environmental technologies, and legislation conditions on water resources management in Viet Nam. Above photo: Yeon Soon Ahn

Above photos L-R: Guest speakers to the Environmental Technology Forum include Seoung-Hwan Cha, Nguyen Hong Khanh, Maanee Lee and Oleg V. Shipin