Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment Bulletin
Volume 228 Number 3 | Monday, 11 September 2017
Summary of the First Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit
5-8 September 2017 | Bangkok, Thailand
The first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit took place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 5-8 September 2017, on the theme ‘Towards a Resource-efficient and Pollution-free Asia-Pacific’. The Summit brought together the seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-7), organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the second Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific, organized by UN Environment.
The senior officials’ meetings ran from 5-6 September. Member States reviewed the implementation of previous commitments on sustainable development and presented many examples of policy and practice supporting delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), multilateral agreements, and the commitments under the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).
The ministerial segment took place from 7-8 September. Ministers took part in a dialogue on the theme of the Summit, and provided further policy perspectives on tackling resource-efficiency and pollution, and on building partnerships. They stressed the critical nature of the Summit’s work, given that ‘there is no planet B’. They supported taking concerted action on issues including waste management, environmental health strategies, transboundary pollution, and marine litter.
Several side events took place during the Summit, on: the contribution of the Paris Agreement to achieving a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific; implementation of the Astana Green Bridge Initiative; the need to govern climate geoengineering; green growth; air and water pollution; and gender, the environment and sustainable development. UN Environment presented the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards on Thursday evening, recognizing four institutions and four individuals for their efforts in seizing illegal shipments of hazardous chemicals and waste.
A special event on took place on Friday 8 June in plenary on ‘Strengthening Regional Ocean Governance and Partnership Towards Clean Seas’. UN senior officials briefed delegates on UN Environment’s Clean Seas Campaign, and highlighted the outcomes of the UN Oceans Conference of June 2017, urging participants not to lose momentum.
At the close of the Summit, ministers adopted several outcome documents: the report of the senior officials of the second UN Environment Programme Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/6); the Chair’s summary of the second UN Environment Programme Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/7); the Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Development for Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.4); and the report of the seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.3).
The conference sought to be as carbon neutral as possible, with a low-waste approach to paper and printing and participants provided with reusable coffee cups. Around the venue, participants viewed exhibits about UN Environment and ESCAP campaigns, conducted in collaboration with a range of international organization and civil society partners, including: a large whale-inspired structure, featuring discarded plastic retrieved from Thailand’s beaches, promoting the Clean Seas Campaign against marine litter and offering delegates the opportunity to experience a virtual reality swim with a whale; an Acid Rain Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia exhibit raising awareness of causes and impacts; a World Environment Day exhibit, highlighting several campaigns, including on action to reduce air pollution and illegal trade in wildlife; and the ‘4 Billion Dreams’ exhibit, documenting sustainable lifestyles around Asia.
This report covers the four days of plenary discussions at the Summit.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FIRST ASIA-PACIFIC MINISTERIAL SUMMIT
The first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit brings together two prior processes: the Ministerial Conferences on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED), organized by ESCAP and the Asian Development Bank (ADB); and the Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific, organized by UN Environment.
MCED: MCED has convened approximately every five years since 1985, and since this time has been a mechanism for strengthening cooperation in environment and development in the Asia-Pacific region through ministerial deliberation. MCED has: provided input into the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED); assessed progress made in the promotion of sustainable development in the region and implementation of Agenda 21; reviewed UNCED commitments, and assessed the state of the environment and policies for sustainable development.
MCED-5: Convened in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 24-29 March, 2005, this meeting discussed tools for: internalizing environmental costs; improving eco-efficiency of production and consumption patterns; and encouraging the development of markets for green products and services, and environmentally sound technologies. Participants approved a comprehensive five-year work plan for environment and development, as presented in three documents: the Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Development; the Regional Implementation Plan for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, 2006-2010; and the Seoul Initiative on Environmentally Sustainable Economic Growth (Green Growth).
MCED-6: This meeting convened in Astana, Kazakhstan, from 27 September-2 October 2010, and highlighted green growth activities in the Pacific, including initiatives to develop renewable energies, organic farming and eco-tourism. Ministers endorsed: a Pacific Green Growth Partnership to coordinate assistance from regional, sub-regional and international organizations in the Pacific; the Astana Declaration and Regional Implementation Plan (2011-2015); and the Green Bridge Initiative to encourage cooperation between the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.
FIRST FORUM OF MINISTERS AND ENVIRONMENT AUTHORITIES OF ASIA PACIFIC: The Forum took place from 19-20 May 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand, and included sessions on: the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and environmental sustainability in Asia Pacific; the environment outlook for Asia Pacific; and environment-health linkages. Delegates identified challenges for the region, such as air pollution and its health impacts, the need for sound chemicals and waste management, including transboundary approaches; and promotion of the green and blue economy. Oyun Sanjaasuren (Mongolia), Chair of the First Forum and then-President of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), issued a Chair’s summary, which reported that the Forum had identified regional priorities and recommendations to promote environmental sustainability for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, and had provided input on priority issues for consideration at UNEA-2 and UN Environment’s Medium-Term Strategy 2018-2021. The Chair’s summary was communicated to various forums, including the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF), and UNEA and its preparatory processes.
FIRST ASIA-PACIFIC MINISTERIAL SUMMIT REPORT
SENIOR OFFICIALS SEGMENT
OPENING OF THE SEVENTH MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: Wijarn Simachaya, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand, opened the meeting, highlighting its importance as a platform to provide regional commitment and concrete recommendations for implementing the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. He called for the meeting outcome to effectively navigate policy on sustainable development and resource efficiency. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, ESCAP, encouraged policy measures such as: integrating resource efficiency targets into national development agendas; providing regulatory measures on resource efficiency standards; and promoting them through awareness raising and financial incentives to businesses; and re-evaluating trade portfolios.
The Russian Federation proposed, and delegates elected: Lorna Eden, Assistant Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Fiji, as Chair of the meeting; and Deepa Liyanage, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka, and Arman Hovhannisyan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Armenia, as Vice-Chairs of the meeting. They adopted the meeting agenda (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.1-UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/L.1).
Keynote: Endah Murniningtyas, Co-Chair, eminent scientists and experts group on the quadrennial Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2019, called for three Asia-Pacific ‘transformations’: identifying countries’ natural resource ‘carrying capacity’, given that some resources, such as biodiversity, are non-renewable; appropriately quantifying the economic value of natural resources and conserving them for economic growth; and improving resource-use efficiency, noting ESCAP’s development of a related knowledge platform. She invited Member States and associated members to provide their input to the GSDR.
REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION: Delegates reviewed implementation of previous commitments: recommendations of MCED-6 in 2010; the Regional Implementation Plan for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific from 2011-2015; the Astana Green Bridge Initiative; and the Seoul Initiative Network on Green Growth.
Panel: Sirpa Jarvenpaa, Global Green Growth Institute, moderated the discussion on ‘The environmental dimension of sustainable development’ with representatives of the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Republic of Korea, Bhutan, and Kazakhstan. She noted opportunities for the region to build on their achievements through South-South and triangular cooperation.
Samuel Manetoali, Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Solomon Islands, highlighted his country’s long-term sustainable development planning up to 2035, and noted the importance of working with local communities.
Eden emphasized that, although a small island developing state (SIDS), more than half of Fiji’s population is urban. She outlined steps taken toward mainstreaming the SDGs into national development plans for resilient towns and cities, including: hazard mapping in municipalities; renewable energy targets for power utilities; tax incentives for hybrid vehicles; and increases in density of accommodation to reduce urban sprawl.
Seong Suho, Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea, explained that, to enhance policy coherence among line ministries, his country has undertaken cross-sectoral environmental assessments, and established a Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development to coordinate activities. He noted the Seoul Initiative Network on Green Growth was extended to a third phase to 2020, and expressed the Republic of Korea’s commitment to working with regional organizations to advance the SDGs.
Tenzin Wangmo, National Environment Commission, Bhutan, said her country has mainstreamed water in national development planning by including the five dimensions of ADB’s water security index as key performance indicators. Md Ziaul Haque, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Bangladesh, highlighted Bangladesh’s off-grid solar energy systems serving18 million people, and called for scaling up international and regional cooperation to support more efficient natural resource use.
Aliya Shalabekova, Ministry of Energy, Kazakhstan, highlighted the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy promoting democracy, economy, infrastructure and development, the establishment of a Green Technologies Center in Astana, and the Green Bridge Partnership Programme (GBPP) 2010-2017, which included a focus on local communities.
Discussion: Indonesia highlighted its national SDG secretariat and preparation of a national law to support SDG implementation at the national and subnational levels. The Russian Federation supported universal access to energy, and cautioned against placing ‘official obstacles’ in the way of energy generation technology, which, he said, should be in accordance with countries’ available resources.
The Asia-Pacific Research Network called for: addressing poverty and gender inequity; taking a systematic approach to ensuring economic, social, and ecological justice; and greater involvement of local communities and CSOs in achieving the SDGs. The Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM) called for addressing the negative effect of toxic chemicals on farmers. The Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, for the Indigenous Peoples Major Group, urged countries to prioritize protection of indigenous peoples through a landscape and seascapes approach.
MULTI-STAKEHOLDER PANEL DISCUSSION: Anthony Chiu, International Resource Panel (IRP), moderated the discussion on ‘Policy perspectives towards a resource-efficient Asia-Pacific region.’
Panel: Yoshinori Suga, First Secretary and Alternate Permanent Representative of Japan to ESCAP, highlighted Japan’s regulatory 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) framework, with national targets to be reviewed every five years. He said that waste-to energy measures are essential, and introduced Japan’s initiative to use recycled materials for making medals for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Jumpote Himacharoen, Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) of Bangkok, outlined the MEA’s policies aiming for 1.3 million electric vehicles by 2035.
Akash Bhavsar, ESCAP Business Advisory Council, praised the Indian Government’s cross-ministerial open data approach, and urged governments to introduce ‘green procurement’.
Bernadette Resureccíon, Stockholm Environment Institute, urged caution on reducing fossil fuel subsidies, as women rely on affordable fuels for cooking. She noted the availability of climate finance has not overcome the financial access barriers that businesswomen face in growing clean energy startups.
John Bongat, Mayor of Naga City, Philippines, underscored the key role of cities, and highlighted Naga City’s ‘local and simple’ initiatives, including efforts to promote recycling wastewater from laundries to wash cars.
Imogen Ingram, Island Sustainability Alliance, Cook Islands, shared her country’s experience in successfully gazetting Marine Protected Areas. She highlighted the involvement of NGOs that played an intermediary role in translating global and national discussions into the local context, while taking messages from local communities to the policy dialogue.
Discussion: The Russian Federation cautioned green jobs and other sustainable development-related concepts should not become a pretext for discriminatory barriers in international trade. He called for promoting scientific cooperation, human resource capacity, and a favorable framework for technology transfer.
Thailand highlighted its national planning frameworks, including: a 20-year roadmap for sustainable consumption and production (SCP), a shift towards low-energy and energy-efficient public transportation systems; accreditation of environmentally-friendly goods and services; and green procurement.
Indonesia called for shifting focus from end-of-pipe solutions to all phases of the product life cycle, and to support this through consumer information standards, green infrastructure, green public procurement and economic instruments that price externalities.
Iran called for greater responsibility of users, for example, with regard to e-waste. He stressed responsibility lies not only with producers, but also with those who have developed the technology and have access to it.
India highlighted the need to focus not only on environmental damage arising at the extraction and production phases but also on wasteful behaviors at the point of consumption. In addition, he noted the post-consumption and resource recovery phase is increasingly important as toxic waste is being dumped in developing countries.
Uzbekistan noted its rapid economic growth and the need for even more rapid uptake of innovative sustainable technology, notably renewable energy and sustainable transport. He also stressed the importance of international law in addressing transboundary water issues.
The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) noted its support for the Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Development for Asia and the Pacific, calling for deepening and broadening of regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific on the environmental dimension of sustainable development. He noted ECO can contribute to ESCAP’s efforts, including through its regional platform, ECO Vision 2025, for mobilizing stakeholders and supporting relevant programs to advance the SDGs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) noted environmental risk factors now contribute to 24% of global deaths, with the corresponding figures for the Asia-Pacific being even higher. Noting WHO’s work with SIDS as the key victims of climate change, he called the Paris Agreement one of the most important public health agreements of the 21st century.
The Federation of Free Workers, International Trade Union Confederation, for the Workers Major Group, called for further consideration of green and decent jobs in the structural transformation to a green economy. The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), for the Indigenous Peoples Major Group, called for recognizing the roles of indigenous peoples in natural resources management. The Environment and Social Development Organization stated that regional cooperation and coordination will be crucial to filling the information gap among different stakeholders.
DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECLARATION: Stefanos Fotiou, Director, Environment and Development Division, ESCAP, presented the revised draft ministerial declaration on environment and development for Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/WP.1), which was modified prior to the Summit through advisory committees and subsequent informal consultations from the original text (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/3). He highlighted that this declaration represents the regional priorities reflecting Member States’ commitment to sustainable development.
Delegates reviewed the text, and Indonesia shared general comments, emphasizing the threat of climate change on peoples’ livelihoods, the importance of political leadership, the urgency of environmental challenges, and the need to focus on long-term actions to be taken in the region. Delegates agreed to recommend the text, without amendment, to the ministerial level.
Thailand supported using the existing conference structure, the ESCAP Committee for Environment and Development, to convene future ministerial meetings. She noted the roles of the APFSD and UN Environment’s Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific in following up on the 2030 Agenda in the region. Indonesia then underlined the role of both ESCAP and MCED as the platforms for implementing the resource-efficiency and pollution-free agenda in the region.
The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC), for the Major Group representing the Scientific and Technological Community, called for follow-up and review to be transparent and to align with the SDG indicators and review framework, so as to facilitate reporting by governments. Other civil society groups expressed concern over land grabbing and the application of untested technologies in agriculture and food production, and called for greater attention to access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters.
Delegates agreed to forward the draft Ministerial Declaration, reflecting their comments, to the ministerial segment of the Summit.
OPENING OF THE SECOND FORUM OF MINISTERS AND ENVIRONMENT AUTHORITIES OF ASIA PACIFIC: The second day of the Summit saw the opening of the senior officials’ segment of the second Forum. Dechen Tsering, Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP), UN Environment, welcomed delegates and briefed them on the agenda. She noted the Forum would discuss the draft resolutions submitted to UNEA-3, including a resolution on synchronizing multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). She reminded Member States that they can submit further resolutions until 22 September. She stressed that a healthy environment is needed to build prosperity and urged Member States to build on good cooperation to date, including on air pollution, waste and contamination, a circular economy approach and hazardous substances. She noted that the meeting will also help ensure that ROAP’s work is focused on Member States’ priorities.
Wijarn Simachaya, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand, gave the opening address, stating that the meeting will demonstrate Member States’ commitment to achieving a pollution-free planet. He noted that Thailand has been active in confronting air, water and solid waste pollution arising from rapid urbanization. He also highlighted that many pollution issues, such as the impact of plastic debris on marine systems, are transboundary issues, which require regional cooperation. He encouraged delegates to send an ambitious message to UNEA-3 on addressing the economic and social impacts of pollution.
Ramon Paje, Asia-Pacific Vice-President of UNEA, explained the result of this meeting will feed into UNEA-3 when it convenes in December 2017. He called for addressing the region’s most pervasive pollution issues, such as marine litter and microplastics, and for delivering tangible outcomes based on voluntary commitments from governments, private sector, and civil society. He invited Member States and others to participate actively in the meeting, as it serves as a prominent forum to build consensus on the environmental dimension of sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.
Indonesia proposed, and delegates elected: Taefu Lemi, Associate Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa, as Chair of the meeting; and Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Pakistan, and Seong Suho, Republic of Korea, as Vice-Chairs. Delegates then adopted the meeting agenda (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.1-UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/L.1).
REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION: Tsering presented an overview of progress on implementing UNEA-2 resolutions. She outlined UN Environment’s efforts in: supporting countries in the region to report on their actions under various environmental conventions; facilitating access to finance; preparing needs assessments and action plans; and strengthening regional intergovernmental mechanisms. She mentioned actions taken in the areas of climate change, ecosystem-based adaptation, regional seas, combating wildlife crime, and chemicals and waste. She further mentioned the Minamata Convention’s recent entry into force, and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which, she noted, three Asia-Pacific countries – Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands – have already ratified. She noted regional contributions to developing SDG indicators and integrating the SDGs into national strategies, the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, Pacific partnerships, and the Pacific Ocean Alliance, among other frameworks.
Tsering invited delegates to consider how the Asia-Pacific region can further strengthen implementation of environmental commitments, what other kinds of mechanisms should be explored, and whether regional priorities reflect the important issues facing the region.
Discussion: Thailand noted its strong commitment to reducing plastic debris, particularly micro-debris, including by: implementing a 3Rs strategy and promoting consumer awareness; launching a ‘clean coasts’ campaign; and reducing plastic waste. He announced that Thailand will host an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference on reducing marine debris in Phuket in November 2017. India called for a stronger focus, in assessing regional implementation efforts, on: compliance with environmental regulations; consumer awareness raising; and voluntary approaches. He urged Member States to strengthen environmental standard setting.
Indonesia said her country aims to reduce plastic waste by 70% by 2025, focusing on consumer awareness. She also stressed that combating illegal trade in wildlife requires international cooperation, particularly from destination countries. On climate change, she highlighted a national target of reducing emissions by 29% by 2030. She noted that Indonesia is in the process of ratifying the Minamata Convention.
Iran, highlighting the need for a forward-looking approach, supported establishing a small scientific panel to bolster environmental monitoring and review in the region, noting the work of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) process. Singapore called for the UN offices in the region to do more to address transboundary pollution, through improved coordination and regional cooperation. Sri Lanka described progress on integrating SCP into national policies and institutional arrangements, including through its inclusion in educational curriculum, and stressed the urgent need to increase SCP awareness in the business sector, particularly among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and civil society.
Pointing out the negative effects of the unsustainable use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, the Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment (Cenesta) on behalf of the Farmers Working Group, called on governments to review the problem and further promote science-based policymaking, drawing on farmers’ traditional knowledge.
INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE FORUM OF MINISTERS AND ENVIRONMENT AUTHORITIES OF ASIA PACIFIC: Meeting Chair Taefu Lemi (Samoa), introduced the draft document (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/5). Delegates did not make any comments, and Lemi advised that any subsequent comments could be conveyed directly to the Secretariat.
REGIONAL INPUT TO UNEA-3: Theme of ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet’: Isabelle Louis, Deputy Director, ROAP, UN Environment, introduced the draft documents (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/2) (and (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/INF/1). She presented an overview of the UNEA-3 theme, noting the need to address gaps in implementation, knowledge, infrastructure, leadership, mispricing of ecosystem values, and externalization of pollution costs. She encouraged delegates to use opportunities to address pollution through the SDGs and the Minamata Convention, noting the latter entered into force on 16 August 2017, and that 10 Asia-Pacific countries are already parties to the Convention. She outlined the roadmap of events leading up to UNEA-3. Finally, she invited all concerned to contribute to the social media campaign to #beatpollution, which to date has attracted over 800 announcements of individual or joint commitments.
Vanuatu highlighted his country’s 2016-2020 pollution-control plan and its ban on plastic bags. He observed that “taking small steps” at the national level will contribute to the SDGs, and expressed hope that there will be an increase in technical and financial support, especially on waste management.
The Cook Islands emphasized that the economic value of oceans to the global economy has been estimated at US$3-6 trillion annually. He highlighted his country’s reliance on tourism, which contributes more than 50% of GDP, and the impact of the El Niño effect, which had resulted in unsightly algal blooms in the seas around his country. He announced that the Cook Islands are on track to reach their target of 100% renewable energy by 2020, and noted that the creation of the Cook Islands Marine Park, ‘Marae Moana’, with a total ocean area of almost two billion square kilometers, will serve as a framework for promoting sustainable development, including responsible waste management.
China highlighted his country’s “top-level commitment to green development” has been mainstreamed, and that it has announced national action plans to prevent and manage water, air and soil pollution, dubbed the ‘Three Walls’ against pollution. Nepal said it is taking action at all levels, including through introduction of environmental standards for a range of industrial machinery. Republic of Korea highlighted air pollution as the greatest pollution challenge for the region, saying the issue of health and environment should be given significant focus at UNEA-3. He noted that his country has initiated the ratification process for the Minamata Convention, which he said would be complete by 2018 at the latest. The Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON), for AP-RCEM and the Farmers Major Group, criticized the lack of space for CSOs on the official programme. She noted that the rise in inequality requires an increased focus on the needs of small-scale farmers. She pointed out that energy efficiency gains will be undermined unless fossil fuel consumption is reduced.
The Island Sustainability Alliance outlined actions in the Cook Islands on waste management, including a national policy for solid waste. She urged the Cook Islands Government to require suppliers to take life-cycle responsibility for products. She said coal-fired power generation on the Asian mainland is widely distributing mercury vapor in the region, including the Pacific Ocean. She expressed concern that methylmercury concentrations in the Cook Islands have reached two to three times acceptable levels.
Tarumitra, representing the Children and Youth Major Group, said WHO estimates that 1.7 million children die each year due to chemical pollution. She noted that in Punjab, India, excessive use of chemicals and other pollutants is contributing to high mortality rates for children. She called on multinational corporations to phase out toxic chemicals and focus on educating communities to support greener agricultural techniques, which would drive positive health outcomes for children and youth.
The Maldives noted addressing air pollution is an issue even in SIDS, and highlighted that his country is in the process of ratifying the Minamata Convention.
UNEA-3 draft resolutions: Meeting Vice-Chair Syed Abu Ahmad Akif (Pakistan) invited the Vice-Chair of the Nairobi-based Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to UN Environment, Raza Bashir Tarar (Pakistan), to introduce the UNEA-3 draft resolutions that have been submitted to date to the Secretariat of Governing Bodies of UN Environment. Tarar introduced the compilation of four draft resolutions (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/3) on: marine litter and microplastics; eliminating exposure to lead paints; the environment and health nexus; and air quality in cities, as well as a fifth resolution submitted more recently by the Philippines on synchronization of objectives and activities of MEAs. He urged Member States to coordinate and consolidate resolutions by the submission deadline of 22 September 2017, noting that the Philippines’ proposal is the only one so far submitted by an Asia-Pacific country.
Thailand called for greater efforts on environmental health strategies and coordination among line ministries and related organizations. Japan proposed including waste management in discussions at UNEA-3, and recommended clarifying the medical terminology used in the document on environment and health. Recalling Japan’s earlier statement, Kiribati emphasized that waste minimization in SIDS requires a 3Rs approach and public-private partnerships. Singapore called for addressing transboundary pollution and SCP at UNEA-3.
Mongolia expressed support for the UNEA-3 draft ministerial declaration and the proposed resolutions, and emphasized the importance of establishing platforms to engage with relevant stakeholders.
India supported the resolutions, noting concerns about toxicity and long-range transport of pollutants, and stating that pollution cannot be addressed in a compartmentalized manner. He called for a regional implementation plan with specific obligations to be created for waste management and pollution control, which should be supported by technical and financial assistance.
The Philippines outlined his country’s submission to UNEA-3, ‘Resolution Calling for the Synchronization of Objectives and Activities, Especially the Conduct of Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COP)/Governing Bodies, of MEAs and Protocols for Efficient Implementation and Monitoring of the Agenda 2030 and for Cost Reduction and Effective Participation of UN Member States.’ The draft resolution proposes that the heads of MEA Governing Bodies be invited to discuss and agree to synchronize the cycle of meetings of Conferences of Parties and Governing Bodies; calculate the associated savings and benefits to the UN and Member States; and dedicate staff and funding support for synchronization. The draft also proposes recommending to the Governing Bodies to convene COPs within the margins of the UNEA biennial meetings, so as to optimize the participation of ministers and their representatives. The Philippines noted that the proposed resolution is consistent with the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for coherence, would reduce the need for international travel, and allow for more emphasis to be given to national implementation.
Citing the lack of time needed to prepare a formal response, China responded informally that, while he shared the Philippines’ concern for synergy, the proposal would be difficult to operationalize, as each MEA would engage different ministries and different staff at the national level. Indonesia agreed that more concrete action on the resolutions will be needed. She expressed Indonesia’s commitment to taking action on marine litter, adding that tackling environmental issues effectively cannot be separated from good governance, the promotion of science-based policies, and availability of technology and resources. She suggested a regional platform is needed to ensure implementation of UNEA-3 resolutions, and she expressed hope that the draft resolutions will focus not on ‘what’, but on ‘how’ to implement the agenda.
Draft ministerial declaration: CPR Vice-Chair Tarar (Pakistan) explained that the UNEA-3 draft declaration aimed to avoid overly bureaucratic language and to communicate directly to governments and people on the importance of reducing pollution. He outlined the steps for finalizing the draft to go to UNEA-3 in December, encouraging regional bodies such as the Forum to engage with the process.
Indonesia said UNEA should commit to multilayered partnerships, good governance and a robust approach on technology and finance instruments and noted that Indonesia’s delegation in Nairobi would suggest textual amendments along those lines. China expressed concerns about the non-traditional style of the opening paragraph of the declaration, which focuses on examples of failures to protect people from environmental degradation and hazards around the world, and which concludes that every hour, “1,500 people around the world … needlessly die from environmental causes.” He also expressed concerns about the absence of some key principles, notably that of CBDR, and the language on finance and technology.
AP-RCEM, on behalf of the Women Major Group, expressed concern that patriarchy, fundamentalism and authoritarian governments are undergoing a resurgence in the region. She noted that the majority of the region’s poor are women, who experience disproportionate health impacts from air pollution including during pregnancy.
AP-RCEM then delivered a statement from all civil society participants, stating their expectation that UNEA will give opportunities for civil society organizations (CSOs) to engage with governments on environmental issues. She called for UNEA resolutions to align closely with SDG indicators, and for the Forum to review the proposed resolutions from that perspective.
Responding to delegates’ suggestions, Tarar welcomed them to propose specific language to the Secretariat, saying this would be the most effective way of getting their views reflected in the final declaration. He commented that a complex solution, such as aligning resolutions with indicators, would need to be assessed carefully to see whether it would be possible to do in the time available.
AP-RCEM, for the Scientific and Technological Community Major Group, called for conducting comprehensive research to examine the institutional capacity in the region for addressing food waste, microplastics, and SCP. AP-RCEM, for the Farmers Major Group, called for engaging with a wider range of CSOs, including marginalized groups, at all meetings relating to sustainable development, and for stronger policies on environmentally-friendly agriculture.
As the outcome of UNEA-3, Japan proposed a Chair’s summary, instead of a ministerial declaration, saying that the current text contains some vague assertions and data that would require an “evidence check”. Singapore stated that issuing a ministerial declaration would demonstrate Member States’ collective commitment.
Tarar explained the view of the UNEA President that the declaration should be an “aspirational” outcome document that can be understood by people of all ages. He suggested that Member States consider revising the vague paragraphs from the draft declaration.
ADOPTION OF REPORT OF SENIOR OFFICIALS OF MCED: In the late afternoon of 6 September, Lorna Eden (Fiji), Chair of MCED-7, reconvened delegates to review the draft meeting report (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/CRP.1).
The Russian Federation requested changing a reference to “natural and climate-induced disasters” to read as “natural disasters”, explaining that “climate-induced disasters” are considered to be the result of anthropogenic sources of carbon emissions, whereas some disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, are not related to climate change. Republic of Korea supported the change, and requested including a reference to “extreme weather events”.
The Russian Federation also proposed changing references to the application of principles of green economy to “promotion of green economy”. Delegates agreed to the changes and adopted the report of the meeting at 4.45 pm.
In further statements, the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) on behalf of AP-RCEM, suggested the green economy approach is “greenwash”, and that public-private partnerships are encouraging corruption among government officials and private companies. She called for: full engagement of local communities in partnerships; considering the principle of intergenerational equity; and including indigenous knowledge in technological innovation.
ADOPTION OF REPORT OF SENIOR OFFICIALS OF THE FORUM: Delegates then reconvened as the Forum to consider the draft report of the senior officials of the Forum (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/6), facilitated by Forum Chair Lemi (Samoa).
Japan proposed including a reference to using WHO air quality monitoring guidelines, with regard to strengthening action on pollution.
China requested that the meeting report state that common principles of environment and development, such as CBDR “should”, not “could”, be included.
Iran asked that a paragraph on strengthening environmental cooperation reflect his request to mention cooperation on water pollution.
Delegates agreed to forward the report, reflecting their comments, to the ministerial segment of the Summit.
OPENING: On Thursday morning, U Ohn Winn, Union Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar, presided over the opening. General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand, welcomed ministers and delegates to the high-level segment of the Summit. He highlighted progress made by Thailand’s National Committee of Sustainable Development, which is chaired by its Prime Minister. He noted that Thailand commits to a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, and this contribution could increase up to 25%, subject to technology access. He highlighted that Thailand acceded to the Minamata Convention in June 2017, and is committed to implementing the Rio Conventions.
Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, ESCAP, underscored that the Summit is setting a new “tradition” to integrate parallel forums organized by ESCAP and UN Environment in the region. She highlighted regional trends, including: a 1.5 billion increase in the middle-income population, leading to high levels of consumption; doubling of regional GHG emissions from 1990-2012; tripling of use of resources such as fossil fuels, metals and biomass in the same time period; seven million deaths annually due to air pollution; and weak, and overstretched health care systems. She called for creating “transformative alliances” in the region, drawing attention to the ESCAP Regional Roadmap for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, as a guiding framework. Akhtar suggested: enhancing policy coherence and consistency; urgent reform on financial incentive frameworks including carbon pricing; recognizing resource efficiency as a focus area for science, technology and innovation; mainstreaming gender equality in all policy areas; and setting ambitious targets and indicators with adequate monitoring.
Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment, observed that pollution is now the biggest killer of humanity, with over 12 million people dying prematurely due to pollution in 2012. He said changing the world requires accessing three drivers of action simultaneously: citizens’ movements; political leadership; and the dynamism of business. He pointed first to the inspirational impact of individual citizens’ actions, such as those of Afroz Shah, a Mumbai lawyer who began cleaning up his local beach, which launched a national movement.
Praising China, India and others for their strong commitments on pollution, he highlighted that UN Environment will work with China on greening its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, including through uptake of solar and wind power rather than coal. He flagged that UN Environment will now work more closely with business, noting his recent visits to Saudi Arabia have shown that major oil producers now recognize they need to invest in solar and wind energy, as they also consider the age of oil is coming to an end. He mentioned UN Environment’s Tropical Landscapes Investment Facility, launched in Indonesia in 2016, which is assisting small-scale farmers to increase productivity, thereby reducing incentives for deforestation.
MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE: Ashok Khosla, IRP, moderated the dialogue on the topic, ‘Towards a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific region’, with Erik Solheim, Shamshad Akhtar, and ministers from Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Myanmar, and Singapore. Khosla stressed that resource efficiency is “low-hanging fruit” that should be prioritized. He noted that both extreme poverty and extreme affluence are enemies of a sustainable future. He identified social entrepreneurship as the approach best suited to transforming the world for the better, as it offers the speed and scale of business, together with social and environmental benefits.
Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Singapore, highlighted the Singapore Sustainable Blueprint strategies of 2009 and 2015, which sought to inspire everyone to play a part in addressing environment issues. He mentioned national policies including a diesel tax introduced in 2017, and a carbon tax that will take effect in 2019. He highlighted that Singapore offers training to civil servants from other countries, showcasing how a densely populated country can develop without major pollution.
Yeshey Dorji, Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan, explained that his country is facing emerging pollution challenges, such as from car use, agricultural activities, and livestock farming, despite its rich natural resources. Under the King of Bhutan’s leadership to promote the principle of Gross National Happiness, he stressed Bhutan’s commitment to carbon-neutrality. He introduced the ‘Bhutan for Life’ Project, a strategy for integrating SDGs into the public education curriculum and natural resources management, saying that their best investment is in future citizens.
Alexander Teabo, Minister of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development, Kiribati, said the country faces persistent ecosystem challenges due to limited capacity to address waste disposal, and stressed the importance of implementing SCP. Introducing Kiribati’s national waste and energy policies, including the recently passed Maritime Act. He urged governments to closely work with the private sector on SCP through a 3Rs approach, and to empower local communities on waste disposal management.
Ohn Winn, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar, noted the country’s priority is to enhance green investment. He introduced Myanmar’s national waste management strategy and action plan, focusing on: sound waste management, including incineration; promoting a 3Rs approach, awareness raising and capacity building; implementing waste-to-energy projects in Yangon in collaboration with the Japanese government; and strengthening environmental governance.
Gani Sadibekov, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Energy, Kazakhstan, outlined government efforts to green the economy by 2050, including to halve the energy intensity of the economy and to have 50% of electricity supply coming from renewable sources. He said the regulatory framework’s incentives are driving rapid uptake.
Solheim praised all speakers’ examples of government leadership and highlighted Singapore as an early adopter in integrating environmental and economic growth policies. Akhtar highlighted the difficulty for environment ministers in achieving whole-of-government approaches. She said stronger environmental institutions are needed to ensure continuity of pro-environment policies.
Responding to a question about what should be prioritized, Solheim said each nation should look to their own circumstances, and noted action on plastics and electric vehicles in cities as two pressing areas. India highlighted public-private cooperation to increase production of light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs, which has driven down prices and displaced compact fluorescent lights (CFL), reducing energy consumption and mercury use. Iran noted the need for practical demonstrations of how to do rapid urbanization well. Akhtar and Solheim agreed environmental discussions should focus on municipal governments and their approaches to planning, housing and electrification.
MATTERS PERTAINING TO ESCAP: Policy perspectives on the environment and development in Asia and the Pacific: Delegates began the session with a video that proposed the Asia-Pacific, as a highly resource-intensive economy, could adopt fiscal measures and innovative financing mechanisms such as green bonds to accelerate transitioning to resource efficiency.
Chair Eden (Fiji), expressed sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Irma, adding that this disaster is “a glaring example” of why the Summit’s work is so important. She then introduced the document on ‘Sustainable management of natural resources in Asia and the Pacific: trends, challenges and opportunities in resource efficiency and policy perspectives’ (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/2). Singapore explained his country’s approach to minimizing waste at source, and disposing of waste and incinerator ash at offshore levees. He also cited measures to incentivize water use efficiency. Myanmar highlighted: actions to reduce energy consumption under the EU’s SWITCH Asia programme; and the drafting of a green economy framework to promote green investments. Bhutan mentioned its waste reduction efforts, mainstreaming of the SDGs into the five-year national planning cycle, introduction of green public transport, and promotion of organic farming.
Nepal indicated its strong national commitment to improving air quality regulation and monitoring and developing national policy on SCP.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea noted the progress of its National Environmental Protection Strategy and urged all countries, including the US, to commit to implementing the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. Viet Nam said its Green Growth Strategy and Action Plan would contribute to the SDGs, including promoting renewable energies.
Vanuatu highlighted its national sustainable development plan for 2016-2030 setting out priorities for contributing to achievement of the SDGs and the key issue of climate change, and highlighted that major cyclones in recent years had put pressure on waste management targets. Solomon Islands said it is under immense pressure to manage resources sustainably due to climate change and population growth, and noted recent strengthening of national environmental legislation.
Armenia welcomed the proposed ministerial declaration and called for stronger regional cooperation. He noted Armenia had recently commenced a project supported by the UN and GCF to help low-income families reduce energy consumption. He called for appropriate environmental policies for the region’s garment industry.
Republic of Korea noted re-establishment of his country’s Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development and its framework for promoting a circular economy.
Sri Lanka said it has implemented many important sustainable environment actions, including: adaptation measures under its 2015-2024 climate change plan; adoption of a strategy for low- carbon transport; and avoiding the use of pesticides through promotion of organic farming.
Bangladesh described its national efforts on renewable energy, biodiversity protection and cleaner production, noting that there is no “planet B” and only one Asia-Pacific region. Kazakhstan highlighted the participation of more than 130 countries and international organizations at the Expo 2017 in Astana. He affirmed the green economy as a major instrument for achieving the commitments of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.
Japan drew attention to its support for the forthcoming 3Rs forum in India in December 2017 and invited delegates to participate. He highlighted Japan’s contribution to reducing GHGs through its Joint Crediting Mechanism, which enables the diffusion of low-carbon technologies to developing countries and attributes verified GHG reductions to Japan’s emission reduction targets.
Lao PDR noted that climate change impacts are placing pressure on development opportunities. Iran called for: practical models on decoupling development and resource consumption, “climate-smart” development in agriculture, health, transport and housing; and identifying rapidly emerging environmental challenges, such as sand and dust storms. She stressed that avoiding coercive measures will help the trust building process.
Samoa expressed strong commitment to implement the SDGs and the Paris Agreement through achievement of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which aims to: achieve a 100% renewable energy target by 2025; develop SCP policy; and ensure sound management waste through biomass systems. Fiji outlined progress on integrating SDGs into his country’s national development plan, and efforts to reduce plastic bag use, promote cross-sectoral planning, and strengthen environmental education.
Cambodia said its National Council for Sustainable Development operates as an inter-ministerial SDG implementation mechanism and has developed national environmental strategies and action plans including a national REDD+ strategy. The Philippines said an increased number of air quality monitoring stations have been installed as part of the National Green Programs launched in 2011, and invited delegates to participate in the upcoming Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP12) to be held in Manila from 23-28 October 2017.
Indonesia called for a common platform to ensure policy coherence on resource efficiency, and highlighted initiatives, including a “pay for plastic bag” policy, eco-driving, and a forthcoming policy on sustainable financing. The Russian Federation explained its efforts to improve conservation of water, land, and forestry through promotion of environmental education and eco-technologies.
Pakistan noted its vulnerability to climate change impacts, given 70% of its water comes from glaciers and increased flooding is costing US$4 billion annually. He noted Pakistan has created a climate change authority headed by the Prime Minister. Tajikistan highlighted his country’s legislation and institutional support to address negative environmental impacts, noting 98% of Tajikistan’s electricity is generated by hydropower and the CASA-1000 project is putting in place a transmission network for export of clean power to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan said his country has put in place significant environmental protections to ensure that investment uses natural resources sustainably.
China noted its 13th five-year plan has a focus on green, open, and shared development and has integrated SDGs into its own national development planning. He highlighted two key areas of progress: an action plan to continue to improve air quality; and support for international action, including the Paris Agreement and the Minamata Convention. Uzbekistan said his government is taking action on energy through introducing standards for the built environment and street lighting, and for waste management. He also noted support for Central Asian cooperation on freshwater resources.
India highlighted its investments in energy efficiency and conservation, saying the country is on the brink of an urban revolution, and is seeking productive cooperation on the transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Timor-Leste highlighted the importance it attaches to protecting its coastal areas from climate change impacts. Thailand highlighted the late King’s concept of the “sufficiency economy”, saying this model can strengthen the agricultural sector and food security.
ECO said it could play a role in promoting the coherence of regional efforts on promoting resource efficiency and combating pollution. The International Labour Organization (ILO) called for policy coherence and alignment within UN agencies to implement SDGs, calling for more attention to green and decent jobs. WHO welcomed the ministerial declaration and affirmed its continued support for SIDS and Least Developed Countries that are coping with impact of climate change impacts and associated health risks.
AIPP, on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group, called for more transparent public-private partnerships. The Karnali Integrated Development Centre, Nepal, on behalf of Children and Youth, requested full integration of indigenous knowledge in subnational planning and monitoring.
Consideration of senior officials’ MCED-7 report: Meeting Chair Eden noted that the report (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/4) contains a single recommendation, to adopt the draft ministerial declaration on environment and development for Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.4). She recognized that the draft declaration is the result of constructive efforts by delegations over several months. There were no further comments, and Eden recommended that the declaration be forwarded for adoption on the final day of the Summit.
MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE SECOND UNEP FORUM OF MINISTERS AND ENVIRONMENT AUTHORITIES OF ASIA PACIFIC: Review of Senior Officials Meeting report and regional input to the UNEA-3 draft ministerial declaration: Chair Zulkifli (Singapore) opened the second and final day of the Ministerial segment on Friday, inviting Ministerial delegates to consider the meeting report (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/6) and provide regional input to a possible UNEA-3 ministerial declaration. Meeting Vice-Chair Seong Suho (Republic of Korea) outlined the key outcomes, noting that senior officials had reviewed progress on UNEA-2 resolutions and identified priorities to forward to UNEA-3, including decoupling resource use from economic growth and the importance of having a sound scientific basis for policy-making. He noted officials had had a general discussion on draft resolutions for UNEA-3 and the draft UNEA-3 declaration, considering whether the UNEA-3 outcome should instead take the form of a Chair’s summary, and requesting references to the principle of CBDR in the declaration. He also noted that the meeting had considered institutional arrangements, and that CSOs had called for increased participation in the official programmes of the Forum and in UNEA, and had highlighted the importance of traditional knowledge and sustainable agriculture.
Tarar (Pakistan) made observations from his perspective as Vice-Chair of the CPR to UN Environment. He encouraged delegates not to submit draft resolutions at the last minute, noting the intention for UNEA-3 to consider fewer resolutions in greater depth. He explained the aspiration of UNEA-3 President for the declaration to communicate effectively to ordinary people. He noted growing interest in the draft declaration as a statement of tangible commitments towards a pollution- free planet.
Delegates then viewed a video message from Edgar Gutiérrez, UNEA-3 President and Minister of the Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, which highlighted that: the Asia-Pacific region has shown its commitment to combatting pollution; UNEA-3, the world’s highest level decision-making body on the environment, has a chance to send strong messages, including on protecting the environment and health; and his hope that the Forum’s work will build an understanding of what resolutions can be agreed at UNEA-3.
Lao PDR stressed that greater efforts are needed at national and regional levels to work on SCP, and to strengthen cooperation through regional frameworks including ASEAN networks and Greater Mekong Subregion environment programs.
Japan expressed his preference to have a Chair’s Summary from UNEA-3 rather than a negotiated outcome in the form of the ministerial declaration, so as to avoid the situation of UNEA-2, when Member States were unable to fulfill their original intention to have a negotiated outcome. He supported mentioning, in the draft ministerial declaration, the importance of awareness raising and knowledge sharing among non-state actors, and the promotion of 3Rs and sound chemicals management. He suggested defining “pollution-free” as clearly as possible; and clarifying the sources of the statistics cited in some paragraphs.
Thailand noted her country is increasingly suffering from the impact of chemicals and waste including plastics in oceans, and has made efforts to address marine plastics to ensure coastal biodiversity and tourism. She suggested the outcome document be in the form of a declaration so that it can be a driving force to achieving a pollution-free planet.
China shared concerns, including that: the current format should follow the regular format of UN declarations, starting with the progress made followed by challenges and actions to take, rather than beginning with challenges, an approach that many considered would give negative messages. He proposed mentioning some of the Rio Principles, including CBDR, financial assistance and technology transfer.
Bhutan, noting Bhutan’s progress in incorporating solid waste and water management into the national plans and strategies, called for reflecting important roles of the private sector and CSOs in achieving the SDGs, and the need to strengthen science-based data and capacity building. She suggested mentioning the important roles played by ESCAP and UN Environment in realizing the SDGs.
The Maldives said sustainable development should be central to UNEA-3 discussions and the lead-up to the meeting. She stated that poverty remains a primary issue and source of environmental degradation, and that her country and other SIDS still require additional support to achieve these policy goals, including assistance on building sound infrastructure for the management of chemicals and monitoring.
Indonesia reemphasized the importance of strengthening multi-stakeholder collaboration at all levels, saying this is essential to mobilize actions and resources. She shared similar views with China on the inclusion of the Rio Principles, such as those of CBDR and equity, and with Bhutan on the full reflection of inputs from private sector and CSOs. Iran, supporting China and Indonesia, reiterated the need for the inclusion of the Rio Principles, including those of CBDR, in UNEA-3 discussions and preparation. Singapore supported having a political declaration to show the difference that UNEA can make to people’s lives.
The ILO urged Member States to create green, decent and productive jobs, citing the example of the electric tuk-tuk vehicle on display at the conference venue, noting that this initiative had created 40 additional manufacturing jobs. She noted that achieving SDG 8 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work, would couple productive activities with environmental protection.
The Asia Pacific Research Network, on behalf of the Major Group for the Scientific and Technological Community, warned that meaningful spaces for participation are shrinking,. The Federation of Free Workers, International Trade Union Confederation, called for a just transition framework to greening the economy, which will include compensation, skills training, social protection, social dialogue, and respect for workers’ rights. He stressed the importance of occupational health and safety, and the high cost of worker-related injuries and illness to the global economy.
Meena Bilgi, Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management, stressed that pollution disproportionately affects women and children.
The Secretariat encouraged Member States to submit their views on the resolutions to the Secretariat of Governing Bodies of UN Environment in Nairobi.
Policy perspectives on a pollution-free planet: Ramon Paje (Philippines) moderated a ministerial dialogue on this topic with representatives of Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Pakistan and Samoa, highlighting a need to involve green finance mechanisms and stakeholder engagement as well as to have strong implementation of environmental policies.
Panel: Lee Minho, Deputy Minister of Environment, Republic of Korea, said Korea had increased greatly the strength of environmental legislation over the last 20 years in response to people’s growing concerns about pollution, and this is now reflected in real improvement in air and water quality. He outlined recent legislation, including use of fiscal approaches to reduce household and industrial waste, as well as tighter standards for fuel quality and particulate air pollution. He further noted cooperation with China on reducing emissions from steel plants and coal-fired power generation.
Taefu Lemi (Samoa) said SIDS are vulnerable to pollution but lack finances, technology and capacity to monitor pollution impacts adequately. He urged continued support for the SAMOA Pathway. He outlined Samoa’s efforts, including: promoting a circular economy, with phase-out of vehicles older than eight years; and moving to ozone-friendly and less carbon-intensive natural refrigerants. He encouraged closer cooperation with UN Environment, including through the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.
Syed Abu Ahmad Akif (Pakistan) said Governments should contribute to de-risking investments that reduce pollution. He said Pakistan has tried to get banks accredited as GCF entities to facilitate international green finance flowing to the private sector, which is increasingly investing in renewables.
Laksmi Dhewanthi, Senior Adviser to the Minister on Industry and International Trades, Indonesia, shared her country’s efforts on two challenges: plastic marine litter and air pollution. On litter, she stressed scientific evidence and data has been crucial for Indonesia’s policy making, noting that sources of marine debris come from marine activities, such as fisheries and commercial ships, around its 70,000 islands, rather than from inland activities.” She said Indonesia has adopted a waste reduction target of 20% and a recycling target of 70% to be achieved by 2030. These include: government-led recycling campaign and waste banks; investing in water-to-energy initiatives which create socioeconomic benefits, such as paying electricity through trust banks; promoting green and clean city awards: and initiating a campaign to clean up coral reefs. She highlighted economic instruments, such as introducing tax exemptions for using sound environmental technologies; and payment for ecological services.
Discussion: The Chair acknowledged that there remains skepticism about the possibility of achieving a “pollution-free planet,” but encouraged delegates to be optimistic, noting, for example, the increased numbers of electric vehicles used in US and Europe. Bangladesh proposed that alternatives to plastic bags must be available before changes in consumer behavior can occur. In response, Dhewanthi explained that alternatives should promote behavioral change, including through: setting national standards on different types of plastic bags to be used; and promoting awareness raising in education programs. She said changes require many steps, so “be patient in the environmental field”.
Iran highlighted the need for financing, and for “tools and vehicles” for implementation. He suggested that national environmental funds could play a role in offering concessional lending to private enterprises for combating pollutions, such as from effluent.
China questioned whether introducing electric vehicles would be effective in reducing overall emissions, noting that the electricity used to power the vehicles may not necessarily be from renewable sources. Minho (Republic of Korea) considered that, for his country, introducing 20% renewables to the energy mix by 2030 is achievable. Thailand drew attention to its SCP Roadmap for implementing the 10-Year Framework Programme on SCP, and the ‘Zero Waste Thailand’ project, which is bringing people and government together to tackle pollution. She commented that governments alone cannot solve the problem and stakeholder engagement at multiple levels is needed.
In civil society interventions, the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific, speaking for the Farmers Major Group, urged governments to pay attention to addressing: pollution from hazardous pesticides; and land grabbing and displacement of peasants and indigenous peoples. She called for financial and policy support for agro-ecology initiatives by farmers. Tebtebba, speaking for the Indigenous Peoples Major Group, warned of pollution impacts from mining and other sources on small-scale fishers. The Karnali Integrated Development Centre, for the Children and Youth Major Group, raised concerns about the health impacts of air pollution, and called for engaging children and young people through organic farming initiatives. The Thailand Environment Institute, on behalf of NGOs, called for: ensuring access to information on paper as well as online; and providing user-friendly data and information.
In responses from panelists, Samoa noted that consumer alternatives to plastic bags must be found, for example, biodegradable bags and old newspapers. Pakistan gave the example of textile waste, which used to be burned, but is now being used for making bags, creating livelihoods for rural women in the process. He noted a mix of positive and negative incentives should be applied, as the poor cannot pay large fines or start-up costs for environmentally-sound alternatives. He noted the work of an Australian company in Pakistan, which is installing solar panels on a pay-as-you-go basis for poor households.
ADOPTION OF SECOND UNEP FORUM OUTCOMES: Ministers adopted two outcome documents, without further comment: the report of the senior officials of the second UN Environment Programme Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/6) and the Chair’s summary of the second Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/7).
Final outcome:The Chair’s summary reflects views expressed by Member States in: the ministerial dialogue ‘Towards a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific region’; review of the first UNEP Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia-Pacific; discussion of UNEA-3 draft resolutions; regional input to the draft declaration of UNEA-3; and the ministerial panel on ‘Policy perspectives on a pollution-free planet.’
The summary contains Member States’ input to five draft resolutions that have been submitted to the Secretariat of Governing Bodies in Nairobi on: marine litter and microplastics; eliminating exposure to lead paints; the environment and health nexus; synchronization of objectives and activities of MEAs; and air quality in cities. The document also summarizes interventions from civil society present at the Summit.
On the UNEA-3 draft ministerial declaration, Member States requested that some common principles of environment and development should be included, such as those related to CBDR, technology transfers and financial assistance. They also requested: providing references for the figures cited in the documents; and beginning the Declaration by summarizing progress made, followed by emerging challenges and then action to be taken. The summary reflects that Member States had discussed the relative merits of a ministerial declaration vis-à-vis a Chair’s summary from UNEA-3, with some favoring a Chair’s summary as being more action-oriented, and others considering that a declaration, while requiring an intensive negotiation process, as better reflecting Member States’ collective commitment.
ADOPTION OF MINISTERIAL DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC AND THE REPORT OF THE SEVENTH MCED: Ministers then discussed and adopted the ministerial declaration on environment and development for Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.4). Finally, they reviewed the draft report of the seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.3). Delegates agreed to adopt the report of MCED-7, incorporating several amendments proposed by Iran and Japan. Iran asked that the document include greater emphasis on sand and dust storms, reflecting delegates’ comments during the Summit proceedings, and to clarify that the Ministerial Conference’s commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda is in the context of national priorities. Delegates agreed to this. Iran also requested the text include a mention of the principle of CBDR. Delegates agreed the Secretariat would review the text to insert this. Japan requested to remove the word “first” from the title of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit, stating this would be consistent with the nomenclature in the meeting documentation. Delegates agreed to adopt the Ministerial Declaration, reflecting their comments.
Final outcome: The Ministerial Declaration expresses commitment to recent multilateral frameworks, and notes various regional policy frameworks and commitments, including the regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific and the Tehran Ministerial Declaration from the July 2017 International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms. It recognizes the importance of MCED and its 30-year history. It also recognizes the Committee on Environment and Development as the main body of ESCAP for promoting environmental policies and strategies, including the sustainable management and development of the environment and natural resources. The Declaration notes that environmental performance in the region has improved on several fronts, but the pressures of unsustainable production and consumption have placed considerable strains on the natural resource base and on ecosystems, which underpin economies and societies.
The Ministerial Declaration requests the ESCAP Executive Secretary to:
- prioritize regional and subregional cooperation for the conservation, sustainable use and management of natural resources in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme;
- facilitate regional networks for exchange of knowledge, experiences, lessons learned and good practices;
- facilitate collection and dissemination of information, including on SCP, waste and pollution, to support science- and evidence-based policies
- provide technical support and capacity building, with a particular focus on countries vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation; and
- promote the review of progress at the regional level through the Committee on Environment and Development.
The Declaration decides to hold the Committee on Environment and Development at the ministerial level in 2022.
CLOSING: The Chair expressed gratitude for the active participation, and invited closing remarks. Dechen Tsering, Regional Director, UN Environment in Asia and the Pacific, conveyed a message from UN Environment’s Executive Director, Erik Solheim, affirming that the meeting had shown the region’s strong and unwavering leadership to support a pollution-free planet, and stressing that political will is the key. Welcoming all delegates to UNEA-3 in December 2017, she stressed Solheim’s call for sharing success stories, and matching the priorities identified at this meeting with future work, including efforts on: pollution, plastic waste and marine litter, air and water quality, education and awareness raising, innovative technology solutions, urbanization, climate resilience and protection of unique biodiversity. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, ESCAP, congratulated all concerned on the success of the Summit, saying that the occasion had provided a fascinating opportunity to learn about countries’ best practices and policy initiatives. The meeting closed at 4:41 pm.
Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Working Group Meeting: The CCAC Working Group will convene in preparation for the High-Level Assembly in 2017. dates: 25-26 September 2017 location: OECD, Paris, France contact: James Morris, Partnership & Programme Officer, CCAC Secretariat phone: +33-1-44-37-14-73 fax: +33-1-4437-14-74 email: [email protected] www: http://ccacoalition.org
First Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1): This takes place after the Convention’s entry into force in August 2017. dates: 24-29 September 2017 location: Geneva, Switzerland email: [email protected] www: http://www.mercuryconvention.org
IGR4 and the Third Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections: The Fourth Intergovernmental Review Meeting on the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) will take place in Bali, Indonesia. Intergovernmental Review Meetings (IGR) are organised every five years. The IGR is a forum where governments and other stakeholders review the status of the implementation of the GPA and decide on action to be taken to strengthen its implementation. The meeting will be preceded by the Third Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections from 23 to 24 October 2017. UN Environment hosts the GPA Coordination Office. dates: 23-27 October 2017 location: Bali, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia contact: GPA Coordination Office www: https://www.unep.org/gpa/
CCAC High-Level Assembly (HLA): The CCAC HLA and the preparatory session of the CCAC Working Group will convene on the margins of UNFCCC COP 23, and plans to focus on the issues of agriculture and waste. date TBC November 2017 location: Bonn, Germany contact: James Morris, Partnership & Programme Officer, CCAC Secretariat phone: +33-1-44-37-14-73 fax: +33-1-44 37-14-74 email: [email protected] www: http://ccacoalition.org
UNFCCC COP 23: During COP 23, parties will meet to, inter alia, continue preparations for entry into force of the Paris Agreement. dates: 6-17 November 2017 location: Bonn, Germany (chaired by Fiji) contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49-228 815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: [email protected] www: http://unfccc.int/
Joint Vienna Convention COP 11 and Montreal Protocol MOP 29: The Vienna Convention COP 11 and Montreal Protocol MOP 29 (30th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol) will take place in 2017 in Montreal, Canada. dates: 20-24 November location: Montreal, Canada contact: Ozone Secretariat email: [email protected] phone: +254-20-762-3851 fax: +254-20-762-0335 www: http://conf.montreal-protocol.org
Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives to UN Environment: OECPR-3 will meet in preparation for UNEA-3. dates: 29 November - 1 December 2017 location: Nairobi, Kenya contact: Jorge Laguna-Celis, Secretary of Governing Bodies
Seventeenth Global Major Groups and Stakeholder Forum: This meeting will facilitate the participation of civil society in UNEA-3 and associated meetings. dates: 27-28 November 2017 location: Nairobi, Kenya contact: Major Group Facilitating Committee
Science, Policy and Business Forum: The forum will bring together scientists, citizen groups, policymakers and business leaders to promote and operationalize science-driven policies and innovations that address planetary challenges and support the achievement of the SDGs. The forum will engage policymakers, scientists, researchers, and civil society stakeholders in a discussion on the science required to deliver on the environmental dimensions of sustainable development. dates: 2-3 December 2017 location: Nairobi, Kenya contact: Jorge Laguna-Celis, Secretary of Governing Bodies
Third Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly: UNEA-3 will be organized on the theme of ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet’. dates: 4-6 December 2017
Third Asia-Pacific Water Summit: The Summit, jointly organized by Myanmar and the Asia-Pacific Water Forum. will provide and share concrete actions, solutions and innovation toward transboundary and multi-partnership cooperation for IWRM and the water-based economy. The Summit theme is ‘Water for Sustainable Development’. dates: 11-12 December 2017 location: Yangon, Myanmar contact: [email protected] www: http://apwf.org
Annual ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum): This Forum addresses the follow-up and review of Financing for Development Conference outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. dates: 23-26 April 2018 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact : UNDESA
HLPF 2018: The sixth HLPF, convening under the auspices of ECOSOC, will address the theme of “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.” The forum will also review Goals 6, 7, 11, 12, and 15, as well as Goal 17, which is reviewed every year. dates: July 2018 (TBD) location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UNDESA email: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/contact/ www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf
Eighth World Water Forum: The World Water Forum is the world’s largest water event that gathers international stakeholders every three years and aims to set water firmly on the international agenda. The World Water Forum is organized by the World Water Council, an international multi-stakeholder platform that aims to promote awareness, build political commitment and trigger action on critical water issues at all levels. dates: 18-23 March 2018 location: Brasília, Brazil contact: World Water Council phone: +33-4-91-99-41-00 email: [email protected] www: http://www.worldwaterforum8.org