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Environmental sustainability is a prerequisite for economic growth and poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific. Environmentally sustainable growth is a key strategic development agenda in ADB, and environment is a core area for support.

Contribution to Operational Priorities

ADB provides integrated solutions combining expertise across a range of sectors and themes to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. ADB’s Strategy 2030 facilitates this integration across sectors through seven operational priorities.

The following are the Environment Thematic Group's contributions to ADB's operational priorities.

Addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequalities

  • Invest in safe water and sanitation, sustainable slums upgrading, and rural livelihood improvement through better natural resource management, livable and healthy cities, and climate and disaster vulnerability reduction.
  • Invest in inclusive green growth, green business development, and green jobs creation and training.

Accelerating progress in gender equality

  • Enhance women’s roles in managing natural resources and caring for families during disasters triggered by natural hazards by scaling up investments in green and climate-resilient infrastructure with gender-sensitive design features, including clean cookstoves; improved sanitation; and safer, eco-sensitive, and climate-resilient roads.
  • Support women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship by promoting and scaling up green business development, including improving access to green jobs and green finance, adoption of new clean technologies, and policy and institutional reforms that enable green business development.
  • Support legal, institutional, and governance reforms promoting gender equality in environmental decision making, including building women’s legal literacy and institutional capacity to teach, implement, and enforce environment and climate change laws.

Tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability

  • Pollution control infrastructure assets implemented.
  • Pollution control and resource efficiency solutions promoted and implemented.
  • Conservation, restoration and enhancement of terrestrial, coastal and marine areas implemented.
  • Solutions to conserve, restore, and/or enhance terrestrial, coastal, and marine areas promoted and implemented.
  • Water–food–energy security nexus addressed.

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Making cities more livable

  • Integrate climate resilience and natural capital into urban infrastructure planning and design.
  • Achieve competitive and productive cities with expanding funding sources such as green finance development.
  • Encourage inclusive and participatory urban planning supported by environmental governance, comprehensive land-use and land-cover planning, and sustainable rural–urban interface for food security.

Promoting rural development and food security

  • Promote sustainable and climate-smart agriculture and value chain interventions that integrate with global food systems and improve farmer incomes.
  • Reduce soil erosion, improve biodiversity, and encourage sustainable rural infrastructure development incorporating nature-based solutions.
  • Enhance food safety and certification programs to incentivize sustainable agricultural practices, using appropriate fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Promote blue economy to support sustainable coastal and marine resources.

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Fostering regional cooperation and integration

ADB will continue to support regional cooperation initiatives to manage critical transboundary ecosystems and other public goods that sustain livelihoods in the region, such as the Greater Mekong Subregion Program. ADB will extend policy dialogue and facilitate regional knowledge sharing and collaboration in these areas: (i) promoting and investing in natural capital (e.g., forests, watersheds, wetlands, landscapes, marine ecosystems, urban ecosystems) and (ii) addressing complex regional environmental issues (e.g., marine pollution).

Environmental Programs, Initiatives, and Partnerships

Greater Mekong Subregion Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program

The ADB Greater Mekong Subregion Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program is designed to improve the environmental sustainability and climate-compatibility of economic growth and prosperity in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), as stated in the GMS Core Environment Program Strategic Framework and Action Plan. The program is expected to enhance climate resilience, green growth, and environmental quality in the GMS.

Sustainable Management of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Programme

The Sustainable Management of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Programme is implemented jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and ADB, with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Its objective is to contribute to sustainable management of fisheries, marine living resources and their habitats in the Bay of Bengal region for the benefit of coastal states and communities. The region includes Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. ADB is the GEF Agency for a national project in Myanmar that will strengthen capacity for water quality management in two watersheds and invest in eco-waste demonstrations linked to the Third Greater Mekong Subregion Corridor Towns Development Project.

Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area

The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is a cooperation initiative established in 1994 to accelerate the socioeconomic development of less-developed and geographically remote areas within these four countries. ADB, as the Regional Development Advisor, provides technical and strategic guidance, knowledge and capacity building support, and infrastructure project financing for greater connectivity. The BIMP-EAGA Vision for 2025 has three target outcomes: (1) competitive and green manufacturing; (2) sustainable, competitive and climate-resilient agroindustry and fisheries; and (3) sustainable tourism. The BIMP-EAGA Green Cities Initiative provides assistance for preparing green city action plans for green development and investment, including urban management and governance, capacity development, and financing.

Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle

The Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) is a sub-regional framework established in 1993 to accelerate economic cooperation and integration among selected states and provinces in the three countries. ADB has been involved in the IMT-GT program since its inception and has been a Regional Development Partner since 2007. IMT-GT promotes private-sector-led economic growth and development of the sub-region by focusing on agriculture and agro-based industry, tourism, and halal products and services. IMT-GT’s Green Cities Initiative has assisted five cities—Melaka, Songkhla, Hat Yai, Medan, and Batam—to develop Green City Action Plans with significant private sector investment. The initiative will be expanded to create an extensive network of green cities across the subregion.

Ocean Financing Initiative

The Ocean Financing Initiative supports ADB developing member countries to catalyze financing for projects that will help protect and restore marine ecosystems and promote sustainable blue economies. The initiative will leverage public sector funds to create investment opportunities able to attract financing from a range of sources, including the private sector. Technical assistance and funds from ADB and donors, along with innovative financing instruments such as revenue guarantees and credit-enhanced blue bonds, will be used to reduce project risks and make them “bankable.” ADB will work with development and financing partners from around the world to accelerate the investments needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 14: Life Below Water.

ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility

The ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility (ACGF) is an ASEAN Infrastructure Fund initiative supporting governments in Southeast Asia to prepare and finance infrastructure projects that promote environmental sustainability and contribute to climate change goals. The ACGF is owned by the finance ministries of the 10 ASEAN member countries as well as ADB, which also manages the facility. The ACGF provides ASEAN member governments with technical assistance and access to over $1 billion in loans from cofinancing partners. The ACGF’s technical assistance supports governments to identify and prepare commercially viable green infrastructure projects, while the ACGF loans are utilized to cover upfront capital investment costs. The ACGF is owned by the finance ministries of the 10 ASEAN member countries as well as ADB, which also manages the facility. Current activities include helping Indonesia and Cambodia develop blended marine financing vehicles to support further investment.

From Source to Sea: Towards a Plastic Free Ocean

This flagship program under ADB’s Healthy Oceans Action Plan is starting with the regional technical assistance project Promoting Action on Plastic Pollution from Source to Sea in Asia and the Pacific and will be expanded over time. This first project—supported by the GEF, Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, Republic of Korea e-Asia and Knowledge Partnership Fund, and other ADB TA funds—includes Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam, with knowledge sharing throughout the region. It helps governments meet their commitments to reduce plastic pollution through national and city action planning, policy and regulatory shifts towards a circular plastics economy, demonstrations focused on circular business and women’s economic empowerment, and preparation of investments. A national project in Indonesia, co-financed by the GEF, will advance circular economy approaches to plastics.

Building Resilience: Investing in Critical Coastal Ecosystems and Livelihoods

This flagship program under ADB’s Healthy Oceans Action Plan will support developing member countries to identify, prepare and accelerate interventions to boost coastal resilience; expand the program through strategic action planning; advance knowledge on the role of coastal ecosystems in building resilience; and encourage regional cooperation. The program is being initiated through a regional technical assistance project Building Coastal Resilience through Nature-Based and Integrated Solutions. Participating countries are: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kiribati, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, with regional cooperation and knowledge sharing.

Global Wildlife Program (Asia)

The Global Wildlife Program is supported by the GEF and led by the World Bank. It is a global partnership that promotes wildlife conservation and sustainable development by combating illicit trafficking in wildlife. The $230 million grant program is expected to leverage over $1 billion in additional co-financing to promote conservation investments across Latin America, Africa and Asia. By addressing the poaching crisis holistically through various country projects and a broader global project, it seeks to reduce the illegal wildlife trade supply and demand and protect species and habitats through integrated landscape planning. ADB is the GEF Agency for a national project in the Philippines. Other participating countries in Asia include Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Sustainable Cities Impact Program

The Sustainable Cities Impact Program is supported by the GEF and led by UNEP, and includes other UN agencies, national and local governments, the World Bank, ADB and other regional development banks. A global platform supports cities to undertake integrated urban planning and interventions to improve energy efficiency, transport, waste and wastewater management, and food production systems; and advance nature-based solutions. As part of the program, ADB is supporting projects in India and Viet Nam. This work is linked to ADB's urban and water sector operations related to Livable Cities and other initiatives.

Global Programme to Support Countries with the Shift to Electric Mobility (Asia and the Pacific)

The Global Programme to Support Countries with the Shift to Electric Mobility supports participating countries in the transformation to sustainable, low carbon transportation, mainly at the city level. The first phase has $26.5 million in GEF grant funding and leverages over $350 million in co-financing. The program is led by UNEP and implemented by the International Energy Agency. It aims to improve air quality, reduce fossil fuel use, and promote access to finance for electric vehicles. ADB is the GEF Agency for two national projects in India and will establish a regional investment support platform for Asia and the Pacific, linked to the ADB Sustainable Transport for All Initiative.


ADB and the European Investment Bank (EIB) formed a new Clean and Sustainable Ocean Partnership in January 2021 to support initiatives in Asia and the Pacific to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals and the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The partnership strengthens the capacity of ADB and EIB to support high-impact projects aimed at promoting cleaner oceans through the reduction of land-based plastics and other pollutants discharged into the ocean, as well as projects to improve the sustainability of socioeconomic activities that take place in oceans or use ocean-based resources.

ADB and the GEF

ADB has been working closely with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) since the late-1990s, and is one of 18 accredited GEF agencies, providing technical and administrative support to development member countries to access GEF resources. The partnership is anchored on the recognition that sustainable socio-economic development and good environmental health, are inextricably linked. The GEF strategic programming directions align well with the priorities identified in ADB’s Strategy 2030. Cooperation focuses on several thematic areas, including: i) climate change mitigation and adaptation; ii) biodiversity; iii) forest and land management; iv) international waters; and v) chemicals and wastes. Major programs developed with cooperation between ADB and the GEF have included the PRC-GEF Partnership on Land Degradation in Dryland Areas, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, and the Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Program. These complement a newer generation of programs and projects being formulated under the current GEF-7 cycle.


ADB and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) cooperate to support environmentally sustainable growth throughout Asia and the Pacific. Their cooperation includes implementation of environment-related Sustainable Development Goals, sustainable cities and infrastructure, and sustainable consumption and production and circular economy. Recent collaboration includes supporting developing member countries in implementing actions to achieve the environment-related SDGs. IGES contributed to two ADB publications: a regional stocktaking and review and a tool compendium.


ADB and the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) cooperate for the promotion of environmentally sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. Cooperation activities focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation, air quality management, low-carbon and resilient cities, circular economy and waste management (including marine plastic litter), environmentally sustainable transport, biodiversity, and building back better following the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes knowledge sharing and exchanging information on infectious waste management to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


ADB and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) agreed to a new partnership for action on nature-positive investments, environmental sustainability, and action on climate change throughout Asia and the Pacific on Earth Day (April 22) 2021. The partnership will focus on biodiversity and ecosystem protection and restoration; nature-based solutions and sustainable infrastructure; coastal resilience; finance for oceans, freshwater, and biodiversity; sustainable urban planning and development; and gender integration and poverty reduction in nature conservation.


ADB and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) cooperate for the promotion of sustainable development and environmental management throughout the Asia and Pacific region. ADB and UNEP published Strengthening the Environmental Dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific: Tool Compendium. The tools help policy makers gain a better understanding of SDG interlinkages and select appropriate guidelines and institutional arrangements for implementation. ADB and UNEP also cooperate on GEF-supported projects in energy efficiency, electric vehicles and sustainable cities in India.


Since 1990, ADB has been a close partner of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in various activities, including organizing ministerial conferences on environment and development and building capacity on data collection and statistics development. Recent collaboration has included scaling up attention to the environmental sustainable development goals and supporting the development of Strengthening the Environmental Dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific: Tool Compendium


ADB and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) have a long history of collaboration beginning in the 1990s and has included technical assistance, training, and joint project development. USEPA has provided technical expertise to assist ADB’s developing member countries to improve air quality, safe drinking water, management of toxic substances, environmental governance, water resource management, and other environmental issues.


ADB and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) cooperate on biodiversity sensitive infrastructure design. Collaborative activities include training, capacity building, and developing knowledge products to advance wildlife research and management in South Asia. For example, a training program on conserving and managing natural capital in transportation projects in South Asia was held from 15-19 July 2019 at the Wildlife Institute of India. Participants increased their capacity to plan and design eco-friendly infrastructure designs to avoid or minimize negative impacts of linear transportation projects on biodiversity rich areas.


This partnership builds on ADB and the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) shared vision of poverty reduction and environmentally sustainable development, with activities focusing on joint projects and programs, information sharing and knowledge management, capacity building, and the development of sustainable development policies and strategies. ADB and WWF are collaborating on a number of environment initiatives, including the development and financing of innovative solutions to water resources management challenges, natural capital assessments to enhance infrastructure planning, and development of a blue finance framework to support investments in ocean health and the blue economy.