Project Description

Protected Areas, Development, and Climate Change in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Duration: 2014-2017   |    Location: GMS — Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, China

    About: The Greater Mekong Subregion is a global biodiversity hotspot. It is home to one of the world’s largest networks of protected areas, covering close to 20% of the region. The forests and wetlands contained within these protected areas support innumerable species and are the foundation of rural livelihoods and local economies.

    Protected areas in the GMS are at risk from a range of pressures, including illegal logging, wildlife trade, commercial crop plantations, and infrastructure development. However, these very areas present an essential foundation for building resilience to climate change.

    The preservation and extension of protected areas is a critical adaptation strategy for the communities who depend on them, as well as for broader local and national economies. Understanding localised impacts of climate change is fundamental to the preservation of the development benefits and adaptive capacity provided by protected areas and healthy natural systems. It is the foundation for adaptation planning and management for protected areas, local communities, and development sectors.


    From 2000-2003, ICEM facilitated the government-led PAD Review in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Review brought together economic development and conservation agencies of the four governments, international conservation NGOs, and multilateral and bilateral organisations in a partnership to assess the status of protected areas in the region and define practical strategies to integrate their conservation within development planning.

    As a result, the four governments formally adopted the national status reports and actions plans for the integration of protected areas and biodiversity conservation into national, sector and local development. For the first time, the four governments had detailed analysis of the linkages between poverty incidence and reduction and protected areas, and that information fed into collaborative management regulations and initiatives in all four countries.

    This extensive economic assessment also laid the foundation for the payment for ecosystems services regulations and demonstrations in Vietnam and other LMB countries.


    PAD 2 will examine the nexus of biodiversity conservation, development, and climate change throughout the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). It is a national government led review of biodiversity conservation and its significance for development and community welfare.

    It will also establish the development benefits of the GMS protected areas estate and its critical role in poverty reduction. It will assess the status and trends in biodiversity, define the impacts of climate change on those trends, and develop appropriate management and adaptation responses for effective conservation.

    A GMS-wide partnership between government agencies, conservation NGOs, and regional organisations provides the operational foundation for the project that will lead to regional and national strategies for better integration of protected areas into development planning.

    Regional Technical Workshop, Bangkok, October 2014

    Over 60 participants from the 6 countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)  came together in a workshop that examined ‘Mekong Protected Areas and Climate Change – Implications for Livelihoods and Development” The workshop was held from 8-10 October 2014, in Bangkok, Thailand, and was organised by ICEM — International Centre for Environmental Management and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) GMS Environment Operations Center (GMS-EOC).

    Visit the Regional Workshop Report and Presentations page for more details and to download presentations.

    Download the PAD2 Concept note