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Highlights for Sunday, 27 March and Monday, 28 March 2005

The Meeting of Ministers of the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific convened on Monday, 28 March 2005, at the Hotel Lotte Seoul, Republic of Korea. The Conference is organized by UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea. Delegates met in plenary to: listen to opening statements; consider a briefing on tsunami and regional response strategy; discuss policy perspectives in the region; and attend a roundtable of major stakeholders. The Multistakeholder Forum took place on Sunday, 27 March 2005.

Above photo: H. E. Moo-hyun Roh , President of the Republic of Korea, giving his welcoming address to MCED 2005.


Above photos L-R: H. E. Roh Moo-hyun, President of the Republic of Korea; Hak-Su Kim, Executive Secretary of ESCAP and Kyul-Ho Kwak, Korean Minister of Environment

Above photos: Delegates were treated to traditional Korean dance and music before the opening session of MCED 2005.

In his welcome address, Kyul-Ho Kwak, Korean Minister of Environment, said that the objective of the Conference is to find ways to achieve a win-win situation for economic growth and environmental sustainability, and called for the world community to shift from a growth-oriented approach to a new chapter of environmentally sound economic growth.  

Hak-Su Kim, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, delivered a message from Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, which highlighted the need for a paradigm shift to green growth and called for implementation of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and other international agreements to fulfill sustainable development. Kim noted the record number of ministers responsible for environment, planning, and finance attending this conference and commended the role played by civil society in addressing sustainable development issues.  

In his inaugural address, H.E. Moo-hyun Roh, President of the Republic of Korea, stressed that economic growth without considering sustainable development will cause adverse effects to the environment. He said that his country is turning from fast economic growth to green growth and will become a benchmark for the region.

Above photos L-R: Haruhiko Kuroda, President of ADB; Hee-Beom Lee; Shoji Nishimoto, Assistant Administrator of UNDP; Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP

Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP, highlighted the importance of immediate implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building recently adopted at the 23rd session of the UNEP Governing Council, as well as cooperation among UN organizations to assist developing countries to achieve green growth. Haruhiko Kuroda, President of ADB, said that the Bank has adopted environmental policies that focus on environmental protection, integration of environmental policies into economic growth, and fostering partnerships. Hee-Beom Lee, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy, Republic of Korea, said it is important to encourage voluntary actions through incentives, rather than imposing strict regulations, and to strengthen international cooperation for the adoption and commercialization of the Best Available Technologies. Shoji Nishimoto, Assistant Administrator of UNDP, said improving environmental governance and strengthening linkage between environment and poverty reduction are the key for achieving green growth. Delegates elected by acclamation the following officers of the meeting: Kyul-Ho Kwak as chairperson; the 23 ministers attending the meeting as vice-chairpersons; and W.R.M.S. Wickramasinghe, Additional Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Sri Lanka, as Rapporteur.

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


Ministerial Briefing on the Recent Tsunami and Regional Response Strategy: 

Hak-Su Kim stressed the integration of emerging issues from recent tsunami and other natural disasters into sustainable development plans. He stressed the need for, inter alia: implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action; a community-based disaster risk management approach; and capacity-building and awareness raising.

Sálvano Briceño, Director of UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, briefed participants on UN activities related to disaster reduction, in particular: the UN's appeal for humanitarian response and tsunami early warning; initiation of the international strategy for disaster reduction; outcomes of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction and the Hyogo Framework for Action; and the “Living in Freedom” report to the UN General Assembly. 

Klaus Töpfer highlighted the environmental impacts of tsunami and underscored that early warning systems should be developed for all types of natural disasters. Haruhiko Kuroda said the efficiency of rehabilitation and reconstruction works can be increased through improved assessment of impacts and enhanced cooperation and coordination. 

Krasae Chanawongse, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Kingdom of Thailand, spoke on community-based disaster risk management and stressed the importance of community awareness and community-based early warning and preparedness systems based on precautionary measures. 

Highlighting the economic and human losses from disasters, Masayuki Kitamoto, Asian Disaster Reduction Center, Japan, said disaster reduction must be integrated into national development agendas. He also stressed that awareness building is essential and requires considerable efforts. Hideaki Oda, Japan Water Forum, briefed on an appeal for “halving human loss by water disasters by 2015” through effective early warning. 

Above photos L-R: Hideaki Oda, Japan Water Forum; Krasae Chanawongse, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Kingdom of Thailand; Masayuki Kitamoto, Asian Disaster Reduction Center, Japan and Sálvano Briceño, Director of UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

Roundtable on Major Stakeholders: 

This roundtable convened with participation of the following eminent panelists: Ryutaro Hashimoto, former Prime Minister of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda, Klaus Topfer, Kiyo Akasaka (below right), Deputy Secretary General of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, and Mostafa Tolba, Chairman of Eminent Scientists Symposium. Panelists discussed: how to achieve green growth without causing harm to the environment; how to deepen governments’ commitment to environmental protection; how to make markets work for environmental sustainability; and how to change the way society produces and consumes. They also highlighted, in particular: the need for early warning systems to reduce water-related disasters; financing for environmental projects; the principle of common but differentiated responsibility; and economic and financial instruments for green growth. 

Above photos: Ryutaro Hashimoto, former Prime Minister of Japan; the dais during the session on the "Roundatable on Major Stakeholders"; Kiyo Akasaka, Deputy Secretary General of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development


Reporting from the Side Events:

The Private Sector Forum recommended that governments undertake measures to ensure productive public-private partnership, through, inter alia: fostering dialogue with the private sector; linking green accounting with tax systems; promoting mandatory green procurement; and facilitating transfer of environmentally sound technologies. 

The Civil Society Forum called upon all stakeholders to undertake a sectored approach to increase eco-efficiency of consumption and production systems by, inter alia: promoting green consumption; increasing resource circulation; supporting the eco-design of products; and raising awareness on sustainable consumption and production.

The Special Session of Water Management for Food and the Environment established a clear process to prepare the first Asia and Pacific regional committee meeting leading to the 4th World Water Forum. 

Above photo: Christopher Scott, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

The Eminent Scientists Symposium’s message to the Conference highlighted the importance of: enhancing education for sustainable development, and providing policy-makers with simple scientific information. 

Above photos: Mostafa Tolba, Chairman of Eminent Scientists Symposium.

The Eminent Environmental Economists Symposium emphasized the relationship between economic growth and environmental sustainability, and policy measures for integrating environment into development plans to create win-win outcomes. 

Above photo:  Chung Mo Koo, President Korean Association of Public Finance and Economics

The Briefing on ADB-GEF Regional Technical Assistance Project for Prevention and Control of Dust and Sandstorms (DSS) in Northeast Asia recommended establishment of a regional monitoring and early warning network for DSS in Northeast Asia, and mitigation of DSS through piloting demonstration projects in DSS originating source areas. 

Above photo: Nessim J. Ahmad, ADB

The Multistakeholder Forum for an Equitable and Environmentally Sustainable Society discussed next steps to put into practice recommendations in the APFED final report. He also delivered the APFED appeal to the MCED 2005.

The Asia-Pacific Women’s Conference on Environment urged governments to, inter alia: recognize the key role women play in environmental sustainability; allocate resources to support and strengthen women’s capacity; and create an enabling environment for women’s empowerment.

Above photos L-R: Teymuraz Ramishvili, Russian Federation; Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore; Pan Yue, China and Nado Rinchhen, Bhutan 

Policy Perspectives in the Asian and Pacific Region: 

Hak-Su Kim highlighted some policy concerns, including: achieving economic growth, while ensuring environmental sustainability; taking into account the three pillars of sustainable development; and adopting policy approaches tailored to fit particular circumstances. Magda Lovei, the World Bank, stressed integrating and mainstreaming environmental problems into development policies, and highlighted the bank’s policy objectives in this regard.

Several speakers urged donor countries to honor their commitment to provide financial support to developing countries for environmental protection.

KINGDOM OF BHUTAN stressed that political will and commitment to implement should be the cornerstone of green growth in the region. MALAYSIA, in demonstrating the private sector’s role in achieving green growth, noted that more than 300 companies in his country have conformed with ISO 14000. CHINA highlighted trial implementation of green GDP in the country, which is used to measure environmental performance at various levels of government. JAPAN advocated the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) and said that Japan is prepared to share its energy efficiency expertise with the region to deal with climate change. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION and TAJIKISTAN highlighted the importance of shifting to a paradigm of green growth, and emphasized subregional and bilateral cooperation to deal with transboundary environmental problems.

INDIA stated that poverty reduction and improvement of life quality should be guiding principles for environmental sustainability for the region. SINGAPORE outlined its city program in the subregion. MYANMAR spoke on the country’s challenges, including: population growth, poverty, financial difficulties, and natural disaster, and called for regional partnership in meeting these challenges. KIRIBATI stressed the need for an early warning system to manage natural disasters. REPUBLIC OF KOREA said green growth will generate enormous opportunities for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.

Above photos L-R: Kazuko Nose, Japan; Nay Win, Myanmar; Jae-Young Ko , Republic of Korea and Abduvokhit Karimvo, Tajikistan


This forum, organized by the Ministry of Environment of Japan and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan, in collaboration with UNEP and ESCAP, convened on Sunday, 27 March. Opening remarks were made by Myung-ja Kim, Korean National Assembly Member, Kyul-Ho Kwak, Korean Minister of Environment, and Hak-Su Kim, ESCAP Executive Secretary. They highlighted the efforts of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Environment and Development (APFED) in promoting sustainable development in the region. The keynote speeches by Yuriko Kawaguchi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Japan, and Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director, summarized the background and outcomes of APFED, highlighting its contributions to building a knowledge-based network through partnership among different stakeholders. A panel, comprising APFED members and chaired by Emil Salim (above left), Association for Community Empowerment, Indonesia, discussed the issues of: how to cope with common challenges; and what are the next steps forward to implement APFED recommendations. Akio Morishima (above right), Chairman of the Board of Directors, Institute for Global Environment Strategies, presented the final report of APFED, containing an extensive assessment of environment and development in the region and a set of recommendations, which was officially launched at the Forum.The participants also adopted the APFED appeal to MCED 2005, which delivers the main message � a new era for sustainable development and a knowledge network. In his closing remarks, Ryutaro Hashimoto, former Prime Minister of Japan, said that APFED is a portfolio for good ideas, which all stakeholders can make use of it.

Above photos L-R: Myung-ja Kim, Korean National Assembly Member; Kyul-Ho Kwak, Korean Minister of Environment; Hak-Su Kim, ESCAP Executive Secretary; Yoriko Kawaguchi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Japan; Klaus T�pfer, UNEP Executive Director;