ADB, Netherlands Formalize $14 million Grant for Mekong Environment Program

HANOI, VIET NAM - ADB and the Government of Netherlands today exchanged documents formalizing the $14 million Dutch financial support to the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Core Environment Program (CEP), and its flagship component, the Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (BCI).

Present during the ceremony held at the ADB’s Viet Nam Resident Mission (VRM) in Hanoi were Andre Haspels, Royal Netherlands Embassy Ambassador to Viet Nam, Arjun Thapan, Deputy Director General of the ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, and Ayumi Konishi, VRM Country Director. Officials from the Viet Nam Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment were also in attendance.

All parties called on the GMS countries and partners in the development community to join in the effort to safeguard livelihoods and economic development by halting and reversing the accelerating pace of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation in the subregion.

Endorsed by the GMS Summit of Leaders held in Kunming in 2005, the CEP/BCI was developed as a joint initiative of GMS countries (comprising Cambodia, People’s Republic of China [PRC], Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam). It is an integrated approach to help GMS countries to sustainably manage their shared natural resources for enhanced connectivity, improved economic competitiveness, and a better sense of community.

The Dutch co-funding (others are the Government of Sweden, the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund from the Government of the United Kingdom, and ADB) will specifically support the implementation of the BCI’s first phase over the next three years. The Netherlands already supports the forestry and water sectors, as well as the health sector in Viet Nam, and increasingly puts more importance to regional, transboundary issues.

“We are well aware of the stress that accelerated economic development, which is evident in the GMS countries such as Viet Nam, can put on our natural environment,” says Arjun Thapan, Deputy Director General of the ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

“Indeed one of the main causes of biodiversity loss in the region is the destruction of habitat, and the fragmentation and impoverishment of our ecosystems. We are concerned that in the absence of anticipatory environmental and natural resource management, the effectiveness of our development interventions and investments could be undermined. This can potentially have serious implications for poverty reduction and sustainable development of the region.”

The CEP’s biodiversity corridors initiative addresses the urgent issue of fragmented landscapes arising from economic development, and the impact this fragmentation has had on biodiversity and associated environmental benefits in the GMS. BCI’s vision is that by 2015, the GMS countries will have established priority biodiversity conservation landscapes and corridors for maintaining the ecosystems, ensuring sustainable use of shared natural resources, and improving the livelihoods of people.

The five specific outputs of the BCI implementation are: (i) poverty alleviation through sustainable use of natural resources and development of livelihoods; (ii) harmonization of ecosystem governance and management regimes; (iii) restoration and maintenance of ecosystem connectivity; (iv) capacity building in local communities and government staff; and (v) sustainable financing mechanisms integrated with government planning and budgeting procedures.

The agreement is yet another milestone in the long-standing and fruitful partnership between ADB and the Government of Netherlands in their fight against poverty and environmental degradation in the GMS. The European nation is the 19th largest shareholder of the ADB, and has official development assistance programs in PRC, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Viet Nam, among others.

For further information about the GMS Core Environment Program, visit www.adb.org/projects/core-environment-program, or contact:

Urooj Malik, Director
Javed Hussain Mir, Senior Natural Resources Specialist
Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources
Southeast Asia Department
Asian Development Bank
Tel: +632 632 6909
Fax: +632 636 2231

For further details of the program of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Viet Nam, visit http://www.netherlands-embassy.org.vn