Green growth takes centre stage at Greater Mekong Subregion forum | WWF
Green growth takes centre stage at Greater Mekong Subregion forum

Posted on 30 November 2011

Government and civil society representatives from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are meeting in Hanoi this week (Dec 1 – 2) to discuss ways to realize their vision for a more prosperous and equitable region through a green economy. 
 Hanoi, Vietnam – Government and civil society representatives from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are meeting in Hanoi this week (Dec 1 – 2) to discuss ways to realize their vision for a more prosperous and equitable region through a green economy.

The workshop convened by the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment (ISPONRE) under Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), British Government, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), WWF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Danida - will focus on the role of natural capital in the subregion’s transition to a green economy.

“Investing in the Greater Mekong’s ecological infrastructure has the potential to offer an excellent rate of return, “ said Dr. Geoffrey Blate, WWF Greater Mekong’s Senior Advisor on Landscape Conservation. “By investing in biodiversity conservation and the maintenance of natural capital, the Greater Mekong Subregion can expand options for economic growth, protect society from natural hazards and ensure long-term sustainability in the face of global environmental change including climate change.”

The Greater Mekong is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. Few places on earth demonstrate in such dramatic terms the fundamental links between human and ecosystem wellbeing. Around 80 per cent of the population depends on the productive capacity of healthy natural systems to sustain key ecosystem services such as clean water, food, and fibre.

Countries across the Greater Mekong are increasingly recognising the need to restructure their economies to reflect the true role natural capital plays in underpinning their economies and the well-being of close to 400 million people.

“We take much of the components and processes that our ecosystems provide for granted in terms of what they contribute to the wellbeing of people, society and the economy,” said Dr. Nguyen Van Tai, Director General of ISPONRE. “Most people know how much their house is worth, or their car, or their job. But the value of the services provided by the region's ecosystems is something that we're still working on. With new tools and approaches, we are working on embedding these values into national accounting systems.”

The GMS Environment Ministers recognized at their meeting in July this year that the economic development aspirations of the subregion will require improved and more efficient management of their ecological infrastructure for meeting the current and emerging demand for food, water and energy that will underpin future economic growth and prosperity in the GMS.

The Ministers also noted that maintaining productivity of the inter-connected ecological systems that span the GMS also will provide resilience to the increasingly evident impacts of climate change.
“This movement towards a green economy places the Greater Mekong’s biodiversity centre stage and this transition is the greatest challenge of the decade ahead” added Dr. Blate

The workshop will examine models and opportunities for collaboration that can leverage support and stimulate sustainable investments in the subregion, and identify targeted actions to replicate and scale up best practices, and adjust policies and regulations across the subregion.

With an eye toward Rio +20, the United Nations conference on sustainable development in Brazil, the workshop attendees also hope to come away with a proposed ‘Roadmap to Rio’ that will present a comprehensive Green Growth / Green Economy vision for the GMS at the UN conference next June.
The Mekong River itself provides food security to at least 60 million people with fish as their main protein source.
© Elizbeth Kemf / WWF
The Greater Mekong is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet, home to numerous endangered species including the Indochinese tiger and Irrawaddy Dolphin.
© Peter Cutter / WWF Greater Mekong