The Third GMS Environment Ministers Meeting
Phnom Penh, Cambodia 27 to 28 July 2011
Representatives of Cambodia, PRC, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam met to discuss and decide on the continuing collaboration on the most important resource that countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) share - the environment.
The 3rd GMS Environment Ministers meeting was opened by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia. A visual video appetizer presenting common issues and progress made in the first five years of implementation was shown for the invited audience of more than 500 guests during the inauguration of the meeting.
Economic development in the GMS has outpaced many other parts of the world over the past two decades, as characterized by national average annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates of between 5 to 10% in this period. Between 2000 and 2009, average annual GDP of GMS grew at a rate of over 9.5%. Much of the growth in the subregion was fueled by intra-regional demand for food, energy and commodities. Between 1992 and 2004, exports grew by 300% while intra-regional trade expanded even more dramatically – by 11 times. Foreign direct investment has contributed significantly towards development with increasing amounts originating within the region.
With the development of the subregion heavily dependent on natural resources, the Mekong Subregion is faced with environmental challenges affecting natural resources, forests and biodiversity, water resources, food security, energy security, and climate change.
“For the Mekong Subregion to continue to show positive, sustained economic growth, the efficiency of how resources are used to fuel this growth must become a core priority for every GMS country,” said Bindu Lohani, Vice-President-in-Charge, and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Since 2006, GMS countries have been engaged in the Core Environment Program (CEP). This $30 million program is cofinanced by ADB and the Governments of Finland, Netherlands and Sweden, and the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund supported by the People’s PRC. In 2005, the GMS Environment Ministers endorsed the CEP which consolidated environmental initiatives under a single integrated program with the aim of achieving a poverty-free and ecologically rich GMS.
The second phase of CEP (2012-2016) is geared towards the development of “climate-related and environmental management measures”, addressing the issue by integrating environmental considerations in investment decisions of key economic sectors - such as agriculture, energy, tourism and transport - and in the development of economic corridors across the GMS.
In its five years of implementation, CEP has successfully demonstrated approaches and tools for sound environmental management and biodiversity conservation. These include the application of strategic environmental assessments, the piloting of biodiversity conservation corridors, Geographic Information System-based tools for land use planning, environmental performance monitoring, and innovative approaches to conservation financing.