In the Greater Mekong Subregion, 200 million people in rural areas depend on their surrounding environment for food, water, energy, and income. Forests, wetlands, mangroves, farmlands, and other ecosystems account for between 20% and 55% of the subregion's wealth.
Natural ecosystems – and the food, water, energy, and other vital elements they provide – lie at the heart of the development of the Greater Mekong Subregion. How these natural resources are protected, managed, and enhanced will determine the long-term sustainability of its environment and economic development.
Overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, vulnerability to climate change, and ever-increasing natural disasters are threatening these ecosystems. In addition, environmental degradation is posing risks to sustained long-term growth, and could cost a whopping $55 billion in foregone services over the next 25 years if left unchecked.
Unless there is better planning and management, the subregion’s resource-intensive development approach could lead to food shortages, price shocks, health hazards, and environmental damage that impact thousands of families and put businesses at risk.
The GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) will focus on improving environmental sustainability and climate change resilience in the subregion. Environment and climate change challenges will be addressed through green technologies; protection of ecosystems and key ecological processes; climate resilience policies; and disaster-risk management, all of which will recognize the essential role that communities play as stewards of natural resources. A systematic effort will be made to mainstream climate change considerations into all GMS interventions, with a focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate-smart landscapes, and sustainable waste management, particularly in terms of healthy ocean and river systems, and the tackling of plastic pollution. GMS-2030 was endorsed and adopted at the 7th GMS Summit of Leaders in September 2021. It aims to provide a new setting for the development of this subregion for the next decade.
The GMS Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program (GMS CCESP), the third and current phase of the GMS Core Environment Program, supports environmental cooperation and green investments in the GMS. It covers six priority themes that were identified during the 24th Annual Meeting of the GMS WGE in 2019: (a) building climate and disaster resilience; (b) facilitating low carbon transitions; (c) promoting climate-smart landscapes; (d) enhancing environmental quality through pollution control and sustainable waste management; (e) deploying digital technologies for climate actions and environmental sustainability; and (f) financing low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure and technologies, including demonstrating climate and disaster risk financing instruments. The GMS CCESP builds on the achievements and lessons from the first two phases of the GMS Core Environment Program, and runs until 2025.
The GMS Core Environment Program was designed to help countries in the GMS meet the increasing demand for food, energy, water, and other natural resources, while at the same time ensuring that resources are available for future generations. This included balancing rapid growth with sustainable practices, and protecting vital water resources, controlling floods, preserving biodiversity and critical ecosystems, and mitigating the impacts of urban expansion.
The wind power plant located in Subyai district, Chaiyaphum province, Thailand, is expected to contribute to Thailand's initiative to boost energy security using clean energy sources. Photo by Patarapol Tularak/ADB.
The 26th GMS WGE Annual Meeting will discuss key challenges and possible solutions for the region in the light of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and in preparation on their pathway to the upcoming COP27 and COP15 in 2022.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has launched a new country partnership strategy (CPS) for Viet Nam covering the period 2023–2026. The strategy will help promote inclusive, green, and private sector-led development in Viet Nam and build a foundation for the country to achieve its goal of becoming upper middle-income by 2030.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $140 million loan to improve the environmental and economic conditions in Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.
“Rapid urbanization has become a threat to Guilin's natural resources and sustainable development,” said ADB Senior Transport Specialist for East Asia Nicolas Dei Castelli. “This project will include a number of innovative solutions with demonstration potential, including low-carbon mobility, inclusive sanitation, and institutional development.”
Foreign ministers of Mekong–Lancang Cooperation member countries vowed to strengthen their cooperation in economic integration, agriculture and food security, green development, innovation, public health and people-to-people exchanges, at the 7th Mekong - Lancang Cooperation meeting.
The meeting adopted four joint statements on strengthening agricultural cooperation, disaster prevention, customs and trade facilitation, and exchanges between MLC civilizations.
ADB has been helping to protect biodiversity conservation corridors in the Lao PDR since 2006 through a range of conservation and protection activities. In 2011, ADB approved $20 million grant for the BCC project. The project helped restore, protect, and manage biodiversity corridor sustainably. In 2016, ADB approved additional grant financed by the Climate Investment Funds through its Forest Investment Program to help manage the biodiversity corridors and scale up activities to stop deforestation and forest degradation in the country.
A new global pact for nature expected to be passed at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in 2022 should balance the needs of developing and developed countries in helping avoid ecosystem collapse.
Demonstrations are one of the main activities of the CCESP in order to help enhance climate resilience, green growth, and environmental quality in the GMS. The program plans to have 27 demonstrations relating to the different themes (such as demonstrations on gender-responsive community resilience projects, and on the circular economy, pollution control, and waste management, etc.). Each demonstration project will have a budget of $40,000.
ADB supports Thailand in responding to the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, ADB provided $1.5 billion loan to help the country mitigate the negative economic impact of the pandemic.
The GMS Program mission is to focus on its fundamental strengths of community, connectivity, and competitiveness, while embracing the core principles of environmental sustainability and resilience, internal and external integration, and inclusivity, for building a GMS community with a bright shared future.
Greater Mekong Subregion Secretariat
Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
Southeast Asia Department, Asian Development Bank
Address: 6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 8632 4444 Fax: +63 2 8636 2226