Since 1992, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided support for socio-economic development in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) through its Economic Cooperation Program (ECP). During this period the GMS has become one of the world’s fastest growing regions. Unfortunately, this impressive economic growth has resulted in a growing number of environmental problems threatening sustainable development of the region. In response, ADB has since 2006 supported addressing emerging environmental issues through the Core Environment Program. A second phase of the Core Environment Program (CEP II) began in 2012 with the aim of scaling up the achievements made in the first phase. NIRAS Finland has been managing the CEP Program since April 2016.
Four outputs to secure improved biodiversity conservation and climate resilience
With total funding of US$ 22.68 million, the long term objective of CEP II is “improved biodiversity conservation and climate resilience across the GMS” and its intended outcome is “an environment-friendly and climate-resilient GMS ECP.” The program comprises of four outputs: (1) Improved Environmental Planning Systems, Methods and Safeguards, (2) Management of Transboundary Biodiversity Conservation Landscapes and Improved Livelihoods, (3) Development of Climate Resilient and Low Carbon Strategies, and (4) Strengthened Institutions and Financing for Sustainable Environmental Management. CEP II facilitates regional collaboration on environment and strengthens the capacity and fosters ownership of GMS countries to manage environmental and social risks jointly and across borders.
Some highlights of achievements of CEP II by December 2017 include:
- Supporting development of national environmental policies and strategies, e.g. Cambodia National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan and National Pollution Control Strategy in Lao PDR.
- Supporting the application of sound environment management policies and tools, e.g. launching of Myanmar environmental impact assessment procedure, and applying the CLUMondo land use planning simulation modeling in Cambodia and Lao PDR.
- A transboundary biodiversity landscape (TBL) monitoring and evaluation framework (M&E) has been jointly developed by PRC, Lao PDR and Vietnam
- An innovative software for participatory forest monitoring of watersheds has been developed and tested in collaboration with WWF in the Central Annamite Mountains of Lao PDR & Cambodia.
- The first transboundary wild elephant conservation plan in the GMS jointly developed between Yunnan of PRC and three northern provinces of Lao PDR.
- Six month modular training program for development officers in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam on Community Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation to Climate Change.
- Fuel efficient technologies, eco-driver training and improved logistics measures have been tested in Lao PDR, Vietnam and Thailand.
The 5th Environment Ministers’ Meeting
Every 3 years the environment ministers from the six GMS countries gather to review progress and set the agenda for environmental cooperation in the region under the GMS Economic Cooperation Program. The 5th GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting (EMM-5) will be held on January 30 to February 1 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
With the theme “GMS Environmental Cooperation Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” EMM-5 aims to generate high-level consensus from the GMS countries and stakeholders in charting the future direction for strengthened joint regional responses on environment, particularly focusing on translating green growth principles into actions.
Specific objectives of EMM-5 are:
- Showcase the achievements of GMS cooperation in pursuing green growth and other environmental responses;
- Facilitate high-level multi-stakeholder dialogue to further strengthen regional cooperation on environment and green growth; and
- Endorse the CEP Strategic Framework and Action Plan (2018–2022) and ADB technical assistance, co-financed by development partners, to guide the direction and support for the next phase of CEP.
EMM-5 is organized by the GMS Working Group on Environment (WGE) with support from the Thailand’s Ministry of Environment and the Environment Operations Center, which serves as secretariat to the WGE. The CEP II team has the main role in organizing this high-level event, and NIRAS in-house staff member Andre Ban is currently acting as Operations Manager at EOC coordinating the organization of the EMM-5.