United Nations Environment Programme environment for development
Regional Work

Climate Change
 Asia Pacific is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change and impacts are likely to become more intense in future. Rising temperatures and extreme weather events have contributed to loss of crop yield in many countries. Crop yields are projected to decline by a further 10 percent by 2020. More

Disasters and Conflicts
Nearly half of the world's natural disasters occur in the Asia and the Pacific region. In 2008 alone, the region accounted for more than half of the 220 major disasters that took place, which affected more than 55 million people and resulted in 7,000 deaths and US$15 billion in damages. More

Ecosystem Management
The Asia Pacific region boasts a high level of biological and cultural diversity which has greatly shaped its history and economic activities. While the region occupies less than 10 per cent of the planet's total surface, it is home to more than half of the world's human population and some of the most diverse plant and animal species in the world. More

Environmental Governance
While there has been significant progress in the last decade in the development of environmental institutions and legislation, the region's burgeoning economic growth and growing population have taken a toll on its natural resource base and the environment. More

Chemicals and Waste
In Asia Pacific, harmful and hazardous waste threatens millions of people. Left unchecked, these wastes could pose severe hazards. Asia's high population density and often tropical climate put it especially at risk for contamination. Regulations have increased but enforcement remains inadequate. More

Resource Efficiency
Most of the global growth in resource use has occurred in high-income Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, but recently the Asia and the Pacific region has emerged as a major global resource consumer and has surpassed the rest of world in material use. More

Environment Under Review

Rapid economic growth in recent years in Asia and the Pacific region has come at an enormous environmental cost. Appropriate environmental safeguards are urgently needed to contain this trend. Decision-making that promotes sustainable development requires a sound understanding of the complex relationship between the environment and social and economic development. More

Regional News
Crime Fighters Recognized for Tackling Illegal Trade in Wildlife, Chemicals and Waste

Bangkok, 20 May 2015: Five enforcement officers and eight organizations tackling fast-growing illegal trade in wildlife, chemicals and waste in Asia Pacific are the first recipients of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award (AEEA) announced here today.

The winners, hailing from Cambodia, China, India, Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, and Viet Nam, were awarded for their efforts in confiscating nearly US$69 million in illegal contraband, logs and wood charcoal and seizures of nearly 300,000 tons of hazardous waste, wildlife products and timber like the Indian Red Sanders, a wood popularly used for idols and wooden artifacts. Investigations into these crimes have resulted in nearly US$40 million in fines and more than US$100 million in frozen assets.

Illegal trade in wildlife, waste and chemicals, unregulated and unreported fishing as well as illicit trade in timber is highly lucrative because of the low risk of detection and scarce conviction rates. Global illegal wildlife trade is worth between US$48-US$153 billion annually, while illegal waste trade is estimated to be worth US$12 billion worldwide.

“Environment crime undermines sustainable development. It is not only a threat to species, to habitats and to ecosystems, but also to human health, livelihoods and national economies.  Enforcement action and efforts need to be recognized and awarded,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary-General who opened the award ceremony.

Award winners include:


Major Nicomedes Petallo Enad, Chief/ Special Police Major, Environmental Protection Unit, Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines

·         For initiating the establishment of the Environmental Protection Unit of the Enforcement and Security Service, now a powerful arm of the Bureau of Customs combating smuggling and illegal trade, including chemicals and wildlife, which led to the seizure of shipments in violation of environmental laws and regulations in the Philippines

Wang Liang, Intelligence Analyst, World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific

·         For his role in several successful regional and global enforcement operations which led to the seizure of thousands of tons of illegal hazardous waste, used vehicle parts and tires, textiles and e-waste

Police Superintendent Osmundo Dupagan Salibo, Chief, Philippine National Police Maritime Group Special Boat Unit, Philippines

·         For leading the confiscation of large amounts of endangered wildlife including nearly 900 turtles and more than 9,000 marine turtle eggs

Police Senior Superintendent Jonathan Viernes V. Ablang, Deputy Director for Operations, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Philippines

·         For promoting the establishment of Marine Protected Areas and recruitment and training of 679 local community Marine Protected Area guards. He set up an SMS public hotline that led to the arrest of thousands of suspects for illegal fishing and pollution

Do Thanh Quang, Manager, Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

·         For tackling wildlife trafficking in one of the world’s biggest environmental crime hotspots that led to the seizure of ivory worth US$830,000 


Anti-Money Laundering Office, Thailand

·         For its significant role in targeting criminal rings trading in protected wildlife and timber, seizing the equivalent of US$39.4 million in assets

Nanjing Customs District, People’s Republic of China

·         For eradicating 31 criminal syndicates involved in the illegal waste trade, arresting over 150 suspects and seizing more than 200,000 tons of waste

Ministry of Revenue and Customs, Kingdom of Tonga

·         For contributing significantly to the country’s global commitment to phasing out ozone-depleting substances, including the seizure of 30 cylinders of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22

Philippine National Police – Maritime Group, Philippines

·         For conducting more than 1,500 operations against violation of fisheries, forestry and wildlife laws, leading to the seizure of endangered aquatic species, nearly 9,000 arrests and collection of fines worth more than US$ 300,000

Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team, Cambodian Forestry Administration, Royal Gendarmerie Khmer and Wildlife Alliance, Cambodia

·         For significantly disrupting the wildlife trade in the country, rescuing more than 60,000 live endangered animals and confiscating 30 tons of wildlife products

Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), India

·         For successful enforcement operations that led to the seizure of 845 tons of  endangered and much-smuggled Indian Red Sanders wood, and 45,790 cylinders of ozone-depleting chemicals

Environmental Protection Unit, Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines

·         For the seizure of 90 container vans that were illegally transporting chemicals, chemical products and waste materials

World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific

·         For pioneering a regional enforcement mechanism that shares intelligence, leading to the seizure of large quantities of illegal hazardous waste, chemicals and wildlife across Asia Pacific

The AEEA is a joint initiative of UNEP and Freeland, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to encourage countries, organizations and individuals in the region to combat environmental crime and to reward excellence in enforcement.

“Freeland is proud to be a part of the new AEEA Awards,” said Steven Galster, Freeland’s Executive Director. “But most of all, we are proud of the award winners, who have gone above and beyond their call of duty and achieved magnificent results in the fight against environmental crime.”

The AEEA ceremony was held back-to-back with the Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Environmental Rule of Law for Sustainable Development that opened today on the margin of the First Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific.  

For more information, please contact:

For information: www.unep.org/roap/ministerialforum or contact: Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tel: + (66 2) 2882127; Mobile: +(66 8) 17001376. E-mail: satwant.kaur@unep.org

Mr. Liu Ning, Programme Officer, UNEP Regional Office for REN, Tel: + (66 2) 288-1874, Mobile: +(66) 832 36 2877, Email: ning@un.org

Efficient Resource Use Key to New Industrial Revolution in Asia Pacific, report says

High Potential for Low-Carbon and Resource-Efficient Growth

Bangkok, 19 May 2015 - Wasteful use of resources in Asia-Pacific countries is undermining their ability to sustain economic growth in future, but there is great potential for low-carbon and resource-efficient growth, according to a UNEP report released at the First Asia Pacific Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities.

Calling for a 'new industrial revolution' to promote equitable human well-being with lower resource use, the report cautions that the Asia-Pacific region cannot depend on declining natural resource costs for its future growth. A more sustainable pathway is required for the region, but this shift needs financing - some US$2.5 trillion in annual sustainable development investments, according to some estimates.

"Asia Pacific, as the most diverse region in the world and home to 60 per cent of the world's population, will be crucial to the success of the sustainable development, financing and climate change agendas being finalized this year," said Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.

"The region's remarkable economic progress has lifted millions out of poverty, but inequality persists, climate change continues to grow as a threat, and, as this report shows, wasteful resource use has seen the material footprint of the region triple between 1990 and 2010."

"Significant scale-up in investments towards a green economy, coupled with sound regulatory frameworks and the mainstreaming of sustainability in national development planning processes, can ensure Asia Pacific's impressive growth continues while safeguarding human well-being and natural resources, and reducing the future carbon emissions trajectory," he added.

"These types of information are relevant for the Philippines and in other governments across the region in order for us to make the most informed decisions that best serve our people. This knowledge of current patterns of resource use can further help us make decisions about our policy priorities, development, and implementation towards a low carbon resource efficient economy," said Hon. Mr. Ramon J.P. Paje, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines.

Explosion in natural resource use but lower material footprint

Driven by rising consumption linked to a growing population and middle class, Asia-Pacific use of materials including biomass, metals, industrial and construction minerals and fossil fuels, is growing at 5 per cent annually, faster than the rest of the world. The use of materials in the region increased yearly from 5.7 billion to 37 billion tonnes between 1970 and 2010, compared to global consumption of 70 billion tonnes in 2010. Per capita material use increased fourfold from 2.3 tonnes to 9.3 tonnes over this period, the bulk of this growth happening after 1990.

It took an estimated 3 kg of materials to produce one dollar of GDP in the region in 2010, compared to 1 kg for the rest of the world. Developing Asia-Pacific countries needed 5 kg of materials to produce a dollar of GDP in 2010. This low efficiency points to the great potential to improve efficiency by which materials are used in the region.

For the first time, the report provides Asia-Pacific policy makers with estimates of national material footprints. These adjust national resource consumption to account for trade. The material footprint of the region grew threefold between 1990 and 2010 with a maximum increase of 400 per cent in the construction sector. Agriculture saw the smallest increase of 1.8 times in its material footprint during this period.

Fourfold increase in energy use - water use more efficient - reduced carbon intensity

The region's demand for electricity, gas and transport fuel, mainly met from coal and petroleum, has increased more than four times over the past 40 years, largely due to rapid urbanization in China.

However, per capita water use is declining in the region and is estimated at 544 m3 annually in the developing countries and 689 m3 in the industrialized countries. Agriculture is the main user, accounting for 80 per cent of water consumption.

The relative slow growth in the region's share of global water use from 51 per cent in 1970 to 55 per cent in 2010 indicates improved water use efficiency.

Despite a fourfold increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the region between 1970 and 2010, there has been a dramatic reduction in carbon intensity in Asia-Pacific developing countries, from nearly 10 kg CO2 equivalent per dollar to less than 3 kg CO2 equivalent per dollar over this period.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific,
Tel: + (66 2) 2882127;

Mobile: +(66 8) 17001376. E-mail: satwant.kaur@unep.org

Mei-Ling Park Mobile:+66918175620 E-mail: park21@un.org

Notes to Editors

The report Indicators for a Resource Efficient and Green Asia and the Pacific and a comprehensive toolkit (including video, infographics and the database itself) is available at: http://bit.do/AsiaPacificIndicators. It includes a comprehensive database to guide policymaking for efficient resource use and reduced carbon emissions.

Using 118 indicators to assess natural resource use over the past 40 years in 26 Asia Pacific countries, the report is the outcome of a three-year science-based consultative process initiated by UNEP, Australia's national science agency CSIRO and the Asia Pacific Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production and supported by the European Union. It includes more than 130 graphics and 115, 000 data points.

Opportunities for a Green Economy in Asia Pacific

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner Speech to the First Forum of Ministers & Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific

Bangkok, 19 May 2015

Esteemed Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


2015 is a pivotal year for sustainable development.

The 3rd International Conference on Financing for Sustainable Development in July, the General Assembly’s finalization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September and the climate change meeting in December will all greatly affect the pace and commitment with which we proceed toward sustainable development.

While these are global processes, they will shape the future pathway of Asia Pacific. But more importantly global success will in large part be determined by their implementation in Asia Pacific.

Many Asia Pacific economies achieved rapid economic development during the last few decades. Millions have been lifted out of poverty and the region now boasts some 700 million middle high income consumers.

But this economic growth has come at a cost – social and environmental - that is undermining future prospects of growth and equity.

Asia Pacific consumes over half of the world’s materials and emits over half of the world’s GHG emissions. We will see a groundbreaking UNEP report launched tomorrow illustrating this. The global environmental health emergency - referred to by the WHO - is felt most acutely in Asia Pacific. And nowhere is this more visible than in air pollution, which that is the cause of an alarming 5 million premature deaths in the region — along with huge social and economic costs.

The rising costs and impact of climate change – something that is no doubt occupying a large part of your portfolios - is further magnifying these existing challenges. The regions high vulnerability to natural disasters and the adverse impacts of climate change is translating into a social and financial burden. Natural disasters, including the catastrophic typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, cost Asia Pacific countries more than US$60bn a year — with the human cost much higher. I had an opportunity to see this for myself first hand on a recent visit to the Philippines with President Holland of France.

The move towards a green economy in Asia Pacific is already happening as a direct response to these challenges.     

Green Economy Approaches Growing

From the “Sufficiency Economy” in Thailand and “Ecological Civilization” in China, to the “3R” approach in Japan and green national and local strategies and action plans in Cambodia, India, the Republic of Korea and many others, the region has recognized the urgency of embarking on green economy pathways to sustainable development.

We are also witnessing a gradual alignment of financing with the sustainable development and green economy aspirations of the countries of Asia Pacific. The region’s renewable energy investment provides evidence of this.

According to the 2014 Global Status Report on Renewables, excluding China and India where annual investment continued its uninterrupted rise, the Asia-Oceania region saw renewable energy investment increase by 47 per cent over 2012 to a record high of US$43.3 billion.

In 2014, clean energy investment in developing countries rose 36 per cent to US$131 billion, on track to surpass investment in developed countries. Of this figure, almost half of the global investment came from China and Japan on solar projects — China up 45 per cent on the previous year, and Japan up 13 per cent according to the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015.

In trade, half of the top 10 global exporters of Environmental Goods and Services are Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member states who have committed to liberalize trade South-South trade is booming and the ASEAN Economic Community and initiatives like China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative promise to accelerate this trend. These initiatives are the chance to turn Asia Pacific not only into the engine of growth, but the engine of green growth with a focus on the opportunities presented by the move towards renewable technologies, energy efficiency services, cleaner production and resource efficiency. 

Harnessing Finance

According to a recent report from the Asian Development Bank and other partners, achieving the SDGs will require moving from billions to trillions in resource flows.

For Asia Pacific, some US$2.5 trillion is needed in annual investment for sustainable development — to close gaps in basic services and infrastructure and to protect the environment, enhance energy efficiency and respond to climate change.

But we should look beyond these incremental costs alone.  The entire financial system – comprising more than US$250 trillion dollars in assets – needs to be deployed to make our economies green, inclusive, and fit for purpose in delivering on improved human well-being and equitable development. 

Each year, between 15-20 per cent of global GDP is invested in infrastructure, education, health and other forms of capital – are these resources, totaling up to USD 15 trillion annually, positioning our economies for performance and prosperity?

There are examples of how capital markets and institutional innovation can be deployed to solve complex environmental challenges.

This year marks the 30-year anniversary of the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer. In addition to preventing millions of skin cancer cases, the phase-out of ozone depleting substances brought investment, changed production and consumption patterns, and stimulated more-efficient production processes and innovative redesigning of products and equipment using greener chemicals.

Ozone protection has also led to technology transfer, with the Multilateral Fund contributing more than US$3.7 billion to all developing countries from 1991 to today — out of which more than US$1.8 billion came to South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific region.

Public finance alone is inadequate to provide the financing required for green transition, however. The rapid development and scaling of financial and capital markets in the Asia Pacific region will be a keystone in the region’s development financing alongside growing public financing, as well as a growing source of inter-regional investment.

We are already seeing striking examples of financial innovation in Asia Pacific that are changing the landscape of capital flows.

For example, the New Development Bank created by the BRICS, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the growing number and scale of sovereign wealth funds in the region provide an opportunity to introduce longer-term risk analysis and policy mandates aligned to sustainable development considerations.

The UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System has also identified potential roles of central bankers, financial regulators and financial policy makers in delivering financing for sustainable development.

Central bankers and financial regulators from the region have provided inspiring leadership in introducing sustainable development considerations into their activities, such as the Bangladesh Bank, the Indonesian financial regulator Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) and the People’s Bank of China.

The recent UNEP Inquiry Report on Asia Pacific, released two weeks ago, identified potential options for the region to promote a more sustainable financial system shaped around sustainable banking, green bonds, green budget tax reform, removing perverse fossil fuel subsidies and mainstreaming environment into national budgeting processes.

UNEP has also actively engaged with financial actors. Just yesterday, the UNEP Finance Initiative, together with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and other co-organizers of the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative, concluded the first dialogue for South East Asia in Bangkok.

Six CEOs of stock exchanges, senior capital market regulators and leaders from companies, investors and international organizations demonstrated the potential of an aligned financial system to better integrate sustainability considerations into investors’ fiduciary duties and corporate governance practices, and ultimately help align investment decisions and corporate performance with green economy and sustainable development objectives.

The way forward

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNEP will continue working closely with Asia Pacific on the green transition. Over the past few years, UNEP and partners have worked with more than 30 countries around the globe to provide policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building — through programmes such as green economy in Small Island Developing States for the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway, the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP), Switch Asia, and other green economy flagships. 

The region is home to a number of international and regional institutions that have championed the green growth and green economy agenda - UN-ESCAP and the UN family, the Asian Development Bank and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to name a few – and there are ample opportunities for joining forces in delivering technical, policy and capacity support to the countries of the region. 

The next UNEA, which will be held on 23-27 May 2016 in Nairobi, will continue to provide a robust policymaking platform that truly places the environment at the heart of sustainable development by reflecting the latest global, regional and national development agendas.

And the Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific provides a unique opportunity to develop your common environmental agenda and help lead and shape the outcomes of the UNEA.

In summary, there is a common realization shared by the many groups that are meeting over the course of this week — from financiers and chief justices, to environment ministers and civil society — that a healthy environment is a pre-requisite for socio-economic development and human wellbeing.

2015 offers us the opportunity to turn this common understanding into clear global agreements on finance, SDGs and the climate.

We can translate these lofty ambitions into clear actions that build the resilience of communities, decouple growth from resource use and contamination and realign our financial systems to invest in natural capital and green technologies.

I fully expect this landmark Forum to contribute to this process.

More News

Workshop on Methodologies on Waste Agricultural Biomass in Kazakhstan, 18-20 May, Almaty
In partnership with the Climate Change Coordination Centre, the UNEP/ADB Climate Technology Network and Finance Centre is organizing a three-day workshop to promote enhanced utilization of Waste Agricultural Biomass in Kazakhstan through awareness raising, training and capacity building on its assessment, and identification of appropriate technologies for converting Waste Agricultural Biomass to energy.

Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Environmental Rule of Law for Sustainable Development in Support to Post-2015 Development Agenda, 20 May, Bangkok
This Roundtable, to be convened in the afternoon of 20 May back to back with the First Forum of Ministers and Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific on 19-20 May, will touch upon key elements of environmental rule of law in the region, update the current status and best practices of environmental rule of law, and discuss the challenges, opportunities and a way forward to ensure that environmental rule of law strengthens the region’s accountability system for the implementation of Post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. The result of the Roundtable, in the form of the Chair’s summary, will be shared at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, which will also take place in Bangkok on 21-22 May 2015.

Asia Environmental Enforcement Award Ceremony, 20 May, Bangkok
Around thirteen individuals and organizations, hailing from China, India, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tonga, and Viet Nam, will be recognized for their exceptional work enforcing environmental laws and fighting environmental crime during the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award ceremony, which will take place on 20 May 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Asia Environmental Enforcement Award (AEEA) is an environmental award that recognizes outstanding work of enforcement officers and organizations to enforce national environmental laws and their efforts to fight environmental crime, including illegal trade in protected species and other wildlife, illicit trade in chemicals, including ozone-depleting chemicals. The 2014 Award is a joint cooperation between UNEP and Freeland Foundation. 

Global Technology Needs Assessmnet Workshop and Technology Needs Assessment Phase II Inception, 25-29 May 2015, Bangkok
UNEP -Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) and Climate Technology Network and Finance Center, together with the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change Secretariat and the Climate Technology Center and Network will hold a Global TNA experience sharing workshop on 26-27 May in Bangkok, Thailand. At this event, UNEP will officially launch TNA Phase II and bring together TNA practitioners to share lessons and best practices as well as recommendations to facilitate TNA implementation and investments for climate technology actions.

16th Meeting of the UNEP International Resource Panel, Hanoi, Viet Nam, 25-29 May 2015   
The International Resource Panel will hold their biannual meeting in Hanoi, in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam. The Panel members, Steering Committee and Secretariat meet twice a year, hosted by a Steering Committee member - in this case Viet Nam - to discuss and determine IRP's role, priorities and strategy. The Hanoi meeting will include a focus on strengthening science-policy networks in Asia and the Pacific, and the linkages of IRP assessments to regional needs and challenges.  The meeting also includes a policy-dialogue  with national policy-makers, academia and industry on the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Decoupling, in the context of the Post- 2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs).

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