Mekong leaders new 10-year plan signals support for green economy | WWF
Mekong leaders new 10-year plan signals support for green economy

Posted on 21 December 2011

Leaders from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion have affirmed their commitment to realize a more integrated, prosperous and equitable region, while respecting the environment, at the conclusion of their summit Tuesday in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.
Leaders from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion have affirmed their commitment to realize a more integrated, prosperous and equitable region, while respecting the environment, at the conclusion of their summit Tuesday in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

Leaders and senior officials from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attending the 4th Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) summit endorsed a new 10-year Strategic Framework guiding economic cooperation in the Subregion.

GMS countries agreed, as endorsed in their new Framework, to focus more attention on the linkages across different sectors, notably between energy, agriculture and food security, and the environment, and recognised climate change not only as an environmental concern but also a broader development issue.

“Leaders from the Greater Mekong Subregion are showing progress towards restructuring their economies to reflect the true role natural capital plays in underpinning their economies and the well-being of about 320 million people,” said Dr. Geoffrey Blate, WWF Greater Mekong’s Senior Advisor on Landscape Conservation. “The new Framework does signal a commitment to green the region’s economies.”

Natural capital at risk

GMS leaders acknowledged that rapid development and growth have placed the Subregion’s biologically diverse ecosystems – its natural capital – increasingly at risk. Under the new Framework, GMS countries have pledged to work together to conserve biodiversity and restore ecosystem connectivity and to better integrate conservation into development planning. Moreover, the new Framework commits countries to control greenhouse gas emissions and collaboratively address the impacts of climate change.

“Greater Mekong countries have affirmed that healthy economic growth goes hand in hand with healthy and productive ecosystems,” added Dr. Blate. “By investing in biodiversity conservation and the maintenance of natural capital, the Greater Mekong Subregion can expand options for economic growth and ensure long-term sustainability in the face of global environmental change, including climate change.”

Business key to transition to green economy 

At the parallel GMS Business Summit, business leaders from the GMS countries discussed how to improve the region’s competitiveness, and focused on ways to make regional transportation systems more efficient and securing support for small and medium enterprises.

At the Business Summit, Dr. Blate conveyed two important outcomes of the GMS workshop on Investing in Natural Capital, hosted by the Vietnamese government last month, including an agreement among GMS delegates on the need to develop a regional green economy vision to support implementation of the new Framework, and the critical role of involving the private sector.

The President of the Republic of Myanmar’s Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and incoming Chair of the GMS Business Forum, U Win Aung, said that “the GMS Business Forum and the wider business community have responsibilities to facilitate regional cooperation and to lead the transition to green economy in the Subregion.

GMS countries indicated that the new Strategic Framework has been designed to address global and regional challenges. The regional master plan, which will be crafted to implement the Framework, will be oriented to address shared social and environmental concerns amongst the countries.

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 well-being. 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.
The Greater Mekong is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet.
© WWF Greater Mekong Programme
. 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.
© Tan Someth Bunwath / WWF-Cambodia