Chiang Mai, Thailand –  January 30 – February 1, 2018: Fifth GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting and Forum on Inclusive Green Growth

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is seeing accelerating economic growth, but this success comes at a price – the depletion of the region’s natural resources. This steady decline of natural stocks is resulting in the degradation in ecosystem services and environmental quality, which threatens to undermine the sustainable development that the region is aiming for.

In order to achieve sustainable development goals among the GMS countries, green growth is seen as an integral pathway to follow. This concept calls for economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which communities’ well-being relies. In order to generate high-level consensus from the GMS countries and relevant stakeholders to scale up investments in green interventions and to respond to global and subregional environmental challenges and emerging opportunities, environment ministers from the six GMS countries recently met again to review progress and set the agenda for environmental cooperation in the region. Taking place every three years, the 2018 occasion was the Fifth Greater Mekong Subregion Environment Ministers’ Meeting (EMM5), which took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

EMM5 deliverables included endorsement of the GMS Core Environment Program (CEP) Strategic Framework and Action Plan 2018-2022 and consolidated environment pipeline and, for notation, signing of the MoU on transboundary biodiversity cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia.

The formal EMM5 meeting of ministers on 1 February was preceded by a forum on inclusive green growth on 30 and 31 January. It included dialogues on the topics of investing in natural resources, green energy, sustainable infrastructure and climate resilience. ICEM contributed to the event in a number of ways. First, ICEM Director General, Dr Jeremy Carew Reid presented on green infrastructure as a foundation for climate resilience and sustainability in Mekong towns. The presentation conveyed the key messages that building resilience to climate change and to natural disasters is an essential foundation for sustainability in development; that green infrastructure enhances resilience and sustainability in urban areas and across rural landscapes; and that all infrastructure, local areas and towns would benefit from integrating green infrastructure and nature based approaches into their planning, design and management.

Second, information on the project, Promoting Climate Resilient Rural Infrastructure in Northern Vietnam, was exhibited at the Green Growth Exhibition’s Climate Resilient Pavilion. The objective of the project was to demonstrate and promote the application of effective bioengineering measures in road and riverbank slope protection, and to initiate the development of a relevant policy framework, so that the techniques employed could be replicated elsewhere in Vietnam.

ICEM also had a number of publications on display at the Green Growth Library. Publications included reports published as part of the above mentioned project, as well as affiliated Knowledge Products that summarises the project for the layman. Attendees could also browse through the report Natural Systems and Climate Change Resilience in the Lower Mekong Basin – Future directions for biodiversity, agriculture and livelihoods in a rapidly changing environment, and the Resource Kit for Building Resilience and Sustainability in Mekong Towns, a seven volume kit for Mekong towns to develop strategies to adapt and thrive under the impacts of climate change.

Organized by Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the ADB-led Environment Operations Center, around 280 participants attended the event. Delegates included environment leaders and senior government officials from key ministries, senior ADB staff, representatives from international and regional development organizations, and heads of green technology companies.

Download Natural Solutions to Erosion Control in Viet Nam – Lessons and Going Forward, which summarises lessons from the project.

View and download the Natural Systems and Climate Change Resilience in the Lower Mekong Basin report