Finland Commits $14 Million to Mekong Environment Program

BANGKOK, THAILAND -  The Government of Finland today committed $14 million for a second phase of a program administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is helping the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) achieve environmentally-friendly economic growth.

Finland’s latest commitment follows the $4.9 million it contributed to the 2006-2012 pilot phase of the Core Environment Program and Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (CEP-BCI). A co-financing agreement for the new phase was signed this morning at the Embassy of Finland in Bangkok.

“The GMS Core Environment Program has a key role to play in building a sustainable future for the subregion, and we are delighted that the Government of Finland has decided to continue with its support of this important work,” said Craig Steffensen, Country Director of ADB’s Thailand Resident Mission.

Ambassador to Thailand, Sirpa Mäenpää, who signed on behalf of the Government of Finland, said the Core Environment Program fits well with Finland’s regional development assistance priorities in the Mekong and globally.

“The guiding principles of Finland’s new development program – human development, accountable societies, green economy and human rights – are well integrated into CEP-BCI. So too are our cross-cutting objectives of gender equality, reduction of inequality and climate sustainability. CEP-BCI also links fully with our priorities in the Mekong region by promoting transboundary cooperation and regionally adopted high standards of environmental management to ensure sustainable growth. This is highly necessary in natural-resource intense economies in a region where many resources are shared, such as the Mekong river,” Mäenpää said.

The program commenced in 2006 amid growing concerns over fragmentation of forests and protected areas and other environmental damage arising from rapid economic development in the GMS. CEP-BCI focuses on strengthening GMS capacity and collaboration in environmental planning and monitoring, as well as conservation and livelihood improvement in some of the subregion’s most important biodiversity landscapes.

CEP-BCI is part of the broader GMS Economic Cooperation Program, which has since 1992 invested more than $15 billion in subregional roads, airports, railways, power facilities, tourism infrastructure, and disease prevention.

Kunio Senga, Director General of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department noted that, “The work of the Core Environment Program is helping ensure the sustainability of the broader GMS Economic Cooperation Program.”

CEP-BCI is overseen by the GMS Working Group on Environment, consisting of representatives from the environment ministries of the six GMS countries: Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.