In 2006, the GMS countries launched the Core Environment Program (CEP) in response to growing concern about the environmental impacts of rapid economic development. Administered by ADB and overseen by the environment ministries of the six countries which form the Working Group on Environment (WGE), CEP aims to achieve “an environmentally friendly and climate resilient GMS Program.” It is coordinated by the Environment Operations Center (EOC), which is hosted by ADB’s Thailand Resident Mission.
CEP introduces environmental tools and processes, builds capacity for their use, and leverages their uptake in economic development. The focus is on environmental assessments, planning, piloting innovation, and monitoring – which together are the key ingredients for sound environmental management.
Environmentally friendly development means the efficient, equitable, and sustainable management of natural resources. A prerequisite to this is knowing what resources are where, their relative value, and what is happening to them. With this information, development planners can make better informed decisions. CEP is building GMS capacity to understand pressures on natural resources. This includes valuing ecosystem services such as the provision of water and soil, and the regulation of climate; analyzing threats posed by issues like climate change; and identifying sustainable livelihood opportunities.
Development in the GMS is shaped by plans at multiple levels, for example subregional tourism strategies, national socio-economic and sector plans, as well as provincial land-use plans. CEP engages with the planning processes of the GMS Program’s priority sectors – including transport, agriculture, energy, and tourism – to ensure environmental considerations are adopted. Towards this, environmental assessments are being mainstreamed in GMS sector plans and development projects.
Many conventional approaches to economic development have proven unsustainable.CEP pilots are designed to test innovative and practical ways to achieve better environmental and social outcomes. So far pilot work has centered on preventing ecosystem fragmentation through biodiversity conservation ‘corridors’ that link protected areas.These pilots place local communities at the center of conservation efforts and help strengthen local livelihoods by creating linkages to ‘green’ economic opportunities. Other pilot initiatives include low carbon freight and local level climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Monitoring environmental performance is essential to understanding the impact of development and to inform planning processes. CEP is supporting GMS governments to track general environmental trends and progress towards national development goals, as well as the impacts of development interventions.CEP is supporting this work through national environmental performance assessments, and by establishing platforms to ensure the latest environmental data is readily available to development planners and other stakeholders.
CEP is structured around the following four components:
Output: Environmental planning systems, methods, and safeguards improved.
Output: Management of transboundary biodiversity conservation landscapes and local livelihoods improved.
Output: Climate-resilient and low-carbon strategies developed.
Output: Institutions and financing for sustainable environmental management improved.
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