GMS Countries Vow Continued Environmental Collaboration

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - Representatives of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries reaffirmed their continued support for regional cooperation on biodiversity conservation and environmental management.

Representatives from Cambodia, People’s Republic of China (PRC), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam met last week in Phnom Penh for the 3rd GMS Environment Ministers meeting.

The GMS countries have shown strong sense of shared vision to manage biodiversity and ecosystems in the sub-region. Senior Minister for the Environment Mok Mareth lauded the delegates for their strong support and action, as he described the event’s outcome as “a significant achievement”.

A comprehensive regional cooperation program on environmental management - the Core Environment Program Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (CEP-BCI) - was launched at  the First Environment Ministers’ Meeting which was held in Shanghai in 2005.

During its five years of implementation, the program has demonstrated approaches and tools for biodiversity conservation and sound environmental management. An important feature was the adoption of a landscape-based approach to conservation linking biodiversity conservation corridors. The first phase was financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with co-financing from the Governments of Finland, Netherlands and Sweden and the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund supported by PRC. It will end in December 2011.

The second phase of CEP-BCI (2012-2016) aims to scale up and institutionalize activities that were piloted in the first phase. Emphasis will be on mainstreaming environmental consideration in the broader GMS Economic Cooperation Program. The second phase will address environmental implications - both positive and negative - in the planning and investment decisions of key sectors such as agriculture, energy, tourism and transport and in the development of economic corridors across GMS. Adaptation and mitigation measures to address climate change will also be featured in the next phase.

The meeting was inaugurated by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia. It was co-chaired by Mr. Mareth and ADB Vice-President Bindu Lohani.

The meeting was preceded by a Senior Officials’ Meeting co-chaired by Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Yin Kim Sean and Javed Mir, Director of ADB.

An Environment Forum was held as a precursor to the Environment Ministers’ Meeting, with a theme on “Sustaining Natural Resources for Green Economy and Inclusive Growth”. The forum was co-chaired by Mr. Yin and Putu Kamayana, ADB’s Country Director for Cambodia.