United Nations Environment Programme environment for development
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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
SAARC Makes Headway in Greening Economies but More Investment in Environment and Ecosystems Crucial for Meeting Development Goals

Bangkok, 22 September 2015 – The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Member States have made good inroads towards greening their economies, but environmental degradation continues to take a toll on the region’s economies, according to a new SAARC – UNEP report released today.

The South Asia Environment Outlook 2014 says the region has taken positive steps toward policy transformation, with green growth and green economy policies and low carbon and emission plans in many countries. Investment in ecosystem restoration and ecosystem based adaptation has also yielded benefits for communities.  However, climate change and unsustainable development will impinge on the region’s growth.

“Achieving the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in South Asia will require a major shift towards sustainable consumption and production, sustainable management of natural resources and fast action on building resilience to climate change,” said Kaveh Zahedi, UNEP Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

“Smart policies that increase investments in protection of biodiversity and ecosystems and foster energy efficiency will not only drive inclusive growth but also protect life-supporting systems that ensure food, water and livelihood security for the people of the region.”

Nearly 1.6 billion people live in the region, fast growing from a rural to a predominantly urban society. Large concentrations of populations are living with deteriorating air quality and declining infrastructure. Particulate matter (PM10) concentrations are exceptionally high and regularly exceed World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Nearly 700 million people in eight countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) lack access to basic sanitation. Traditional biomass – the predominant cooking fuel used by almost 70 per cent of the region’s population – is a major source of indoor pollution in South Asia.

“SAARC Member States have given high priority to systematically addressing the pressing environmental challenges through enhanced collaboration, partnership and regional cooperation towards conservation, protection and management of our environment,” said H.E. Mr. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Secretary General of SAARC.

Reduced water supply, a result of poor management and climate change, is a growing concern and will have major adverse effects on food production and livelihood security for the majority of people who depend on agriculture for a living. The region is also prone to climate-related disasters. There were 220 flood incidents from 2005-2014.

The report spells out a number of cross-cutting policy options for South Asia’s transition towards a green economy, which include greater awareness of environmental solutions to development challenges, more participatory community management of natural resources, sustainable and responsible business practices and transfer of environmentally sound technologies, along with increased collaboration across borders on the environment.

The South Asia Environment Outlook 2014 will be made available at: www.saarc-sec.org  

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP, Bangkok, Thailand, Tel: +66-2-288 2127, Email: satwant.kaur@unep.org

Mr. Ananda Dias, Regional Coordinator, Early Warning and Assessment, UNEP, Bangkok, Thailand, Tel: +66-2-2882617, E-mail: ananda.dias@unep.org

 Director-ENB, SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, Nepal, Tel. +977-1-4228929; E-mail: dirbhu@saarc-sec.org

Bangladesh Prime Minister Wins Top United Nations Environmental Prize for Policy Leadership

Bangkok/Dhaka, 14 September 2015 – The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, H.E. Ms Sheikh Hasina, has been announced as one of the winners of the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade, in recognition of Bangladesh’s far-reaching initiatives to address climate change.

With a population of more than 159 million, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populated countries. It is also one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Cyclones, floods and droughts have long been part of the country's history, but they have intensified in recent years.

Serving as Prime Minister of Bangladesh – one of the world’s least-developed countries – Sheikh Hasina has proven that investing in climate change is conducive to achieving social and economic development.

The Champions of the Earth award in the Policy Leadership category, which the Prime Minister will accept at a ceremony in New York 27 September 2015, recognizes Bangladesh’s first-off-the-block initiatives under Prime Minister Hasina’s government to prepare the ecologically fragile country for the challenges it faces from climate change.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “Through a number of forward-looking policy initiatives and investments, Bangladesh has placed confronting the challenge of climate change at the core of its development. These initiatives, from climate change adaptation measures to ecosystem preservation legislation, mean that current and future generations of Bangladeshis are better prepared to address climate change risks and reverse the impacts of environmental degradation.”

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has demonstrated leadership and vision in both making climate change an issue of national priority and advocating for an ambitious global response. As an early adopter and advocate of climate change adaptation policy, she continues to be an example to follow as world leaders seek to take action on climate change as part of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate conference in December.” 

The award cites the progressive Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan of 2009, which made Bangladesh the first developing country to frame such a coordinated action plan. Bangladesh is also the first country to set up its own Climate Change Trust Fund supported by nearly US$300 million of domestic resources from 2009-2012.

The government currently earmarks 6-7 per cent of its annual budget – some US$ 1 billion - on climate change adaptation, with only 25 per cent of this coming from international donors. A ‘Climate Change Fiscal Framework’ is also in the works to enable the government to track the demand and supply of climate change funds. For the first time, climate change is no longer merely an additional demand, it is central to the country's development prospects.

In addition, under her leadership, the Bangladesh Constitution was amended in 2011 to include a constitutional directive to the State to protect the environment and natural resources for current and future generations. Prioritized in the constitution along with wetlands and wildlife, the forestry policies initiative by Prime Minister Hasina has provided a natural barrier from some extreme weather events and the country’s forests cover has increased by almost 10 per cent.

Moving beyond physical and capital investment in climate change adaptation, the government is implementing a wide range of measures to help citizens prepare for an increasingly unpredictable future. These include new health services dealing with waterborne diseases linked to increased floods, training community groups about early warning systems and promoting climate-friendly agricultural technologies. 

As part of climate change mitigation, the government is giving high priority to clean and renewable energy including one of the world’s largest solar home energy systems, covering 10 per cent of the off-grid population, and reducing emissions from brick-making, one of the largest sources of stationary emissions in the country. 

In a major initiative to protect environment, human health and livelihoods, legislation is being enacted to step up regulation of the coastal polluting from the ship-breaking industry that employs a huge workforce in hazardous conditions.

“As one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, Bangladesh understands the importance of addressing the impact of climate change. The country is already experiencing its detrimental effects, and it is often the poorest and marginalised who feel it most,” said Robert Watkins, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh.

“From 1990 to 2008 Bangladesh averaged annual losses of 1.8 per cent of the country’s GDP due to natural disasters, yet it is important to remember that addressing the impact of climate change is more than just a question of economics. High tides in coastal areas of the country are rising faster than the global average, which leads to loss of livelihoods and displacement.

“By 2050 it is estimated that one in every 7 people in Bangladesh is likely to be displaced by climate change, and they are also likely to move to urban centres already burdened with meeting the needs of a dense population.

 “I congratulate the Government of Bangladesh for being proactive in tackling climate change as a priority of the country. It is also a clarion call for the global community to take action today, and to realise that climate change is not a problem of the future, it is already happening in our lifetime.”

About Champions of the Earth

The annual Champions of the Earth award is the highest environmental accolade that the United Nations can confer upon outstanding individuals and organizations. Previous laureates of this inclusive award range from leaders of nations to grassroots activists – all visionaries whose leadership and actions drive the world ever closer to its aspirations of environmental sustainability and a life of dignity for all. To date, the Champions of the Earth has recognized 67 laureates in the categories of policy, science, business and civil society.

The other winners named so far are the National Geographic Society (Science and Innovation); Brazilian cosmetics firm Natura (Entrepreneurial Vision); and South Africa’s Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit (Inspiration and Action). Other winners will be announced throughout September. The awards will be handed out at a Gala Ceremony at the close of the Sustainable Development Goals summit, on September 27.


For more information, please contact:

Ms. Danielle Naranjilla, Communications and Partnerships Officer, United Nations in Bangladesh, Tel: + (88 0) 55667788, Email: danielle.naranjilla@one.un.org

Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tel: + (66 2) 2882127; Mobile: +(66 8) 17001376. Email: satwant.kaur@unep.org

Thai Teenager Wins Asia Pacific Prize for UN Environment International Children's Painting Competition

Bangkok, 10 September 2015 – Fourteen-year-old Panchachon Phommueang from Thailand has won the Asia Pacific prize of the annual International Children’s Painting Competition organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for her evocative depiction of how renewable energy can be harnessed for the well-being of people on the planet.

Phommueang’s painting, on the competition theme, “We have the power!” was among 60,345 entries received this year from 16 countries. It was selected for its simple and telling portrayal of the crucial role of energy in our daily lives amid increasing competition for natural resources.

 “We are using a lot of energy in our daily life, and soon, this energy will not be enough to meet growing demand.  I have studied about renewable energy and want to bring it to the world’s attention through my painting by showing the many different kinds renewable energy are available such as wind energy, solar energy, biomass, and wave power. The world is looking for energy security and sustainability and renewable energy is very important for our future” she said.

 “The science tells us that soon after the middle of this Century we need to have completely decarbonized our economies in order to keep global warming below two degrees. An energy transformation is needed and, if you look at investments in renewables, is already underway in Asia. Phommueang’s painting beautifully portrays this energy transformation with renewable energy powering the energy needs of people” said Kaveh Zahedi, Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific of UNEP.

Phommueang’s entry will go on to compete with winning entries from other regions of the world – West Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and North America – later this year.  The theme of this year’s competition supports the UN decade of Sustainable Energy for All and was open to inspire children between the age of 9 and 14 all over the world. The Asia-Pacific winner will receive a US$1000 prize.

The International Children’s Painting Competition is organized every year by UNEP and the Foundation for Global Peace and Environment. It has been held since 1991 and received more than 3 million entries from children in over 100 countries. The goal of the competition is to inspire people all over the world to see environmental issues through the eyes of children and increase environmental awareness and action among children.

For More Information: Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Email: satwant.kaur@unep.org, Tel: +662 2882127, Mobile: +66817001376. 

More News

UNEP GEO-5 Youth Camp, 2 – 6 October 2015, Kubiqi Desert, Inner Mongolia
UNEP GEO-5 Youth Camp is part of the outreach efforts of the UNEP flag report GEO-5 in China, with a clear focus on environmental education for the students. Co-organized by UNEP and Elion Foundation, the Youth Camp consists of environmental courses by scholars and professionals, field activities and exploring trip in desert, which enables the young people to get close to desert ecosystems.  Desertification is a historic and global ecological problem, directly threating to ecological security, seriously influencing the human survival and development, that combating desertification was the common responsibility and obligations. Kubuqi Desert experience is aimed to motivate the younger generation to undertaking their responsibility of sustainable development.

Thematic Meeting of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Network of Ozone Officers, 5-7 October 2015, Bangkok, Thailand
This meeting will focus on Southeast Asia and the Pacific Network regional cooperation to promote and sustain HCFC phase-out. It aims to provide a forum for Ozone Officers to explore potential regional approaches to linkages with the ASEAN Economic Community, refrigeration and air-conditioning competition, association and certification system, and provide updates about the availability of low-GWP alternatives. The meeting will also discuss the implementation of recovery, recycling and reclamation of ozone depleting substances in countries.

South-South Exchange and Training Workshop on Extractive Industries for Sustainable Development, 6-9 October 2015, Bangkok, Thailand
50 participants including UN country offices implementing extractive industries  work, government counterparts, experts, and private sector to gain capacity to recognize and apply tools that improve outcomes of extractive industries. The workshop is also a platform to exchange experiences and lessons of various countries in the region on sustainable management of extractives and build closer collaboration between UNEP and UNDP in this sector.

Coordination Meeting for the European Commission destruction Project, 8-9 October, Bangkok, Thailand
The coordination meeting for the European Commission destruction project will discuss planning, surveys of ozone depleting substances (ODS) banks and expected results, along with action plans,  management and destruction of ODS in five project countries comprising Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Enhancing Adaptation and Mitigation Investment: Market-Based Mechanisms and Mobilizing Private Sector Finance, 14-15 October 2015, Singapore
The Southeast Asia Climate Change Network is organizing a workshop titled ‘Enhancing Adaptation and Mitigation Investment: Market-Based Mechanisms and Mobilizing Private Sector Finance’ on 14-15 October 2015 in Singapore. The workshop will examine current and planned emissions trading schemes, status of market mechanisms and related challenges in the current climate discussion. It will also explore potential options for market policy tools and ways to mobilize private sector finance so that countries will become better equipped to address barriers in mitigation and adaptation investments. The workshop will bring ASEAN climate change focal points, together with other key actors including policymakers, research institutes, intergovernmental organisations and development agencies.

Sustainable Rice Platform 5th Annual Plenary Meeting, Manila 27-29 October 2015
Stakeholders representing 29 UN agencies, governments, research institutions, supply chain actors, non-profits and advocacy groups will be gathering in the Philippines for the Sustainable Rice Platform’s 5th Annual Plenary, to be held in Manila from 27-29 October. During the event, hosted by the International Rice Research Institute, the world’s first Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation will be released, along with a set of performance indicators to provide a quantitative measure of compliance for rice production systems. The Sustainable Rice Platform’s Advisory Committee will also meet at IRRI Headquarters. The Sustainable Rice Platform is a global multi-stakeholder alliance working to promote sustainability in the rice sector and based in the UNEP ROAP.

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E-learning course - Introduction to Sustainable Consumption and Production in Asia – 2015 Edition, 21 September – 13 November 2015. The fellowship application deadline is 31 August 2015.

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Highlights of ASEAN Member States and China's efforts in implementing the Biodiversity Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and Aichi Targets

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