UN/ADB warn on Asia-Pac’s resource constraints

In their latest joint report, “Green Growth, Resources and Resilience: Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific”, they stress that the challenges of resource constraints are more serious in Asia-Pacific than anywhere else.

The region utilises three times as many resources to produce $1 of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the rest of the world, and resource use in the region grew by 50 percent between 1995 and 2005.

The report was produced by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the ADB ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which will be held in Brazil in June this year.

The report suggests we transition from dependence on traditional means of production to more sustainable green economy.

It rejects the assumption that technology advances will be able to solve the problems of resource constraints and proposes specific strategies for changing economic incentives to promote green economy which uses resources much more efficiently.

The report stresses that economic incentives to promote investments in resource efficiency and natural resource protection are key, but action on other fronts is also needed, including an integrated policy framework and approaches.

Governance must be more adaptive and inclusive, and become more adept at harnessing knowledge from different sources and incorporating information from various stakeholders.

It says that for developing countries, the massive investments in infrastructure, as well as the unmet needs for energy, water, transportation and housing, offer window of opportunity to change the way that energy and other resources are used.

The report addresses the two main Rio+20 themes – green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

According to Rae Kwon Chung, director of ESCAP’s environment and development division, business as usual is no longer feasible option. He warns that many governments and other stakeholders still do not recognise the urgency of the challenge of improving the resource efficiency of economic growth.

According to the report, the Asia-Pacific region’s resource and pollution-intensive growth trends mean the region runs at risk of not being able to sustain the growth needed to reduce poverty in the long term.

Chung warns that optimistic growth projections for the region do not factor in resource constraints sufficiently. He says green growth is strategy to achieve sustainable development, addressing both resource constraints and the climate crisis.

The Republic of Korea has one of the most advanced green growth strategies within the Asia-Pac region.

It has been pursuing low carbon national vision since August 2008, looking at ways to transform the climate change and energy crises into opportunities for economic growth.

Early last year, the New Zealand Government set up an independent advisory group to look at green growth topics of importance to New Zealand. For list of members see: www.med.govt.nz/

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