Ministers began high-level Summit deliberations on Thursday. Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Thailand, highlighted progress made by Thailand’s National Committee for Sustainable Development, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, ESCAP, highlighted regional trends, including the rise in the region’s middle-income population, which has led to high levels of resource use while many still lack safe drinking water. Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment, observed that pollution is the biggest killer of humanity. He emphasized that changing the world will require citizen action, political leadership and business dynamism.
In the morning, delegates elected meeting officers and adopted the agenda for the day. They then took part in a dialogue on the topic ‘Towards a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific region’. In the afternoon, they presented their own policy perspectives on the environment and development in the region. Many drew attention to their national actions, and some stressed the critical nature of this work, given that ‘there is no planet B’. They also considered the report of the senior officials of the seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific and the draft ministerial declaration on environment and development, agreeing to forward this for adoption on the final day.
Side events took place at lunchtime, including on ‘Solutions towards an Air-Pollution Free Planet’, organized by UN Environment. In the evening, delegates attended the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award ceremony.
Outside the conference room, delegates were able to assess their personal carbon footprints at the UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Center’s Climate Neutral Now stand. Based on details of country, transport use, home heating and eating habits, UNFCCC’s software would calculate the number of tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of an individual’s lifestyle. Delegates could offset their emissions by choosing from a range of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) emissions reduction projects. At another exhibit, delegates were able to experience the impact of plastic waste on ocean life through a virtual reality experience that allowing participants to ‘swim’ through polluted waters while wearing virtual reality goggles.
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, is producing daily photographic coverage of the meeting proceedings, as well as of key side events, and also produced a summary report, which is available in HTML and PDF.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
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Erik Solheim (Left), Executive Director, UN Environment; and Shamshad Akhtar (Right), Executive Secretary, ESCAP, welcoming Surasak Karnjanarat (Center), Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand
Delegates applaud Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand
Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment
U Ohn Winn, Minster of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar
View of the speakers during the ministerial dialogue on "Towards a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific region"
Yeshley Dorji, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Bhutan
Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Singapore
Dmitry Belanovich, the Russian Federation
Erik Grigoryan, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Nature Protection, Armenia
The dais during the afternoon session
Angelito Fontanilla, Director IV, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Philippines
Nodirjon Yunusov, Head of Department, State Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection, Uzbekistan
Solutions Towards an Air Pollution-free Planet
Ramon Paje (Philippines), Vice-President for Asia Pacific, UNEA, welcomed and invited Supat Wangwongwatana, member of the Science Advisory Panel, Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), to set the scene for this side event organized by UN Environment. Wangwongwatana explained the need for addressing health risks of outdoor and traffic-related air pollution, highlighting continuous improvements to fuel quality and vehicle emission standards in Thailand. Hazri Hassan, Director, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Singapore, drew attention to Singapore’s efforts on air quality, including encouraging the purchase of cleaner new vehicles, and setting emission standards for industries.
Cathleen Maleenont, CEO, Thai Solar Energy Public Company, shared her company’s strategy to facilitate transition to renewable energy, noting potential in recent improvements in energy storage technology, and in the quality of solar power. Wanchai Meesiri, Engineering and Service Director, Vera Automotive Co. Ltd., called for government policies, including tax measures, to be applied to enhance the clean technology market.
Hideyuki Mori, President, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), described potential tools to solve air pollution problems, such as the fuel-efficient manner of driving known as ‘eco-driving,’ and Bus Rapid Transit systems. He encouraged investing in the necessary technologies, and promoting of behavior change among leaders as well as citizens. Alan Silayan, Program Director, Clean Air Asia, supported the ‘co-design’ of tailored solutions for local cities through stakeholder consultation. Bernard Woods, Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB), stressed the importance of financing clean production technologies and green jobs, in view of risk of job losses such as those associated with the closure of coal-fired power plants in China.
Hazri Hassan, Director of International Policy Division, Singapore
Wanchai Meesiri, Co-founder, VERA Automotive
Cathleen Maleenont, Chief Executive Officer, Thai Solar Energy Public Company
Hideyuki Mori, President, IGES
Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards
The Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards recognized and celebrated excellence in efforts by public institutions and individuals in fighting environmental crime. This year, the awards focused on efforts in the area of pollution. Erik Solheim, UN Environment Executive Director, Shamshad Akhtar, ESCAP Executive Secretary, and Staffan Kerrström, Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand, presented the awards.
Solheim and Akhtar commented on the difficulties of enforcement, as environmental crime is in the hands of mafia-like networks. They welcomed the opportunity to celebrate those who are doing the difficult work on the ground. Amb. Kerrström highlighted Sweden’s long-standing support to combat the illegal trade in chemicals and waste, noting that Asia still remains “one of the world’s dumping grounds.”
The awards went to four institutions and four individuals. The institutions were the Anti-smuggling Bureau of China Customs, the Environmental Protection Unit of Philippines Customs, the National Management Office on Ozone Depleting Substances of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, China, and the Multi-departmental Mobile Team of Myanmar, for their work in seizing illegal shipments. The individuals awarded were: Xiaohui Liu, Director-General, Anti-smuggling Bureau of China Customs; Rajapaksa Seniviratne, retired Additional Director-General of Sri Lanka Customs; Enkhtuya Surenjav, Lecturer Trainer of General Authority for Customs and Taxation of Mongolia, and Chang Ryung Han, Director of the Investigation Division of the Korea Customs Service.
Xiaohui Liu, China Customs, addressed the delegates on behalf of all the award winners. He expressed respect for all those who work to protect the environment, observing that, “We have only one earth, the same home.”
UN Environment presents the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards annually; this is the second time the awards have been given out. The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) through the Regional Enforcement Network for Chemicals and Waste, supported this year’s awards.
Staffan Herrström, Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand
Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment
Liu Xiaohui, China
A group photo of the award recipients