Mekong Countries to Discuss Growth Amid Water, Energy and Food Challenges

BANGKOK, THAILAND (17 February 2012)  – Policy-makers from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) will meet in Bangkok next week to discuss the challenges and opportunities for balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability.

The GMS 2020: Balancing Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability conference, organized by GMS countries in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will propose strategic measures to ensure economic growth is balanced with food, water and energy security, especially in light of increasing climate variability.

“Countries in the GMS are well-placed to continue on the impressive growth during the last two decades. The challenge will be to adopt development pathways that secure the subregion's economic prosperity without depreciating the environment,” said Javed Mir, ADB’s Director, Environment and Natural Resources Division for Southeast Asia.

Since the six countries sharing the Mekong River formed the economic cooperation program in 1992, gross domestic product growth in the subregion has averaged about 8% a year, while real per capita incomes more than tripled between 1993 and 2010. But as the economies of Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam grow, so do competing demands for natural resources.

The conference, taking place 20-21 February at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, will examine how growth has impacted the environment and look at the future of water in the region. Conference participants, including government officials, development partners, academics and private sector representatives, will look at whether economic growth has led to poverty reduction, forecast food and water needs to 2050, and discuss ways of scaling environmental and economic challenges.

GMS countries already cooperate on the Core Environment Program Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (CEP-BCI), which addresses adaptation and mitigation measures, as well as environmental implications for agriculture, energy, tourism and transport planning and investment decisions. In December, GMS leaders endorsed a 10-year strategy to enhance agricultural development, pro-poor sustainable tourism, low-carbon development and management of the sub-region’s richly diverse ecosystems.

Since 1992, ADB has provided the GMS Economic Cooperation Program with technical assistance worth more than US$ 57 million for specific environmental initiatives.

Last Updated: 17 February 2012