Asian developing countries are exploring new low-emission green growth strategies that accelerate sustainable economic development while also addressing climate change. More than 150 officials from 17 Asian governments and representatives of international organizations, civil society groups, and businesses are meeting this week at the first Asia Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Forum in Bangkok, Thailand to establish a regional network on low emission development and discuss ways to apply this new sustainable development paradigm across Asia.
Rapid economic growth in Asia has helped lift millions out of poverty, but economic progress is increasingly overshadowed by the risk of global climate change. The Asia and Pacific region is among the most vulnerable to climate change, with increasingly visible impacts on economies, food security, and communities. By linking the efforts and resources of governments, the private sector, and international organizations, developing Asia can take advantage of its dynamic, rapidly growing economies to choose new, transformational growth strategies.
“Low-emission, climate-resilient development, commonly described as ‘green growth’, is a development approach that assists countries to achieve sustainable economic growth and improve living standards while slowing the rise of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Michael Yates, Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Regional Development Mission for Asia.
The low-emission, green growth approach recognizes that addressing challenges such as climate change can actually create opportunities to accelerate growth and employment, and do so more sustainably. Many emerging economies like China, India, Indonesia, and Thailand have already started the transition toward this new development model.
“Thailand is moving towards a low-carbon society based on the guiding principles of H.M. the King’s “sufficiency economy” philosophy as the strong foundation for sustainable development,” said Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. Preecha Rengsomboonsuk.
The potential benefits of green growth include increased industry competitiveness and productivity, and new opportunities for Asian developing countries to attract international funding for low carbon projects. Many countries also are seeking to enhance energy security by adopting more efficient and renewable energy technologies, to improve human health from reduced air pollution, and to help businesses tap into expanding global markets in low-carbon technologies, products, and services.
“Emerging Asian economies are adjusting to the realities of a carbon constrained world, but they expect investments in cleaner energy and public transport to also generate domestic benefits, such as improved energy security, increased industrial efficiency, and better air quality. This is improving local quality of life while enhancing long-term development and job creation prospects,” said David McCauley, head of climate change programs at the Asian Development Bank.
Participants in the Asia LEDS Forum this week will jointly identify priorities for promoting regional coordination, building technical capacity, and sharing knowledge on LEDS and green growth, through a new “Asia Regional Platform” being established as part of the LEDS Global Partnership, an international initiative of over 90 organizations and institutions to advance low emission development around the world.
USAID is sponsoring the Asia LEDS Forum, taking place during September 18-21, along with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the LEDS Global Partnership Secretariat, in cooperation with Thailand’s the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) and the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Numerous collaborating organizations from across the regional are also actively supporting the new partnership.