THIRD SESSION OF THE ESCAP COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
On October 29-31, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand, the Third Session of the Committee on Environment and Development, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Upon the invitation from ESCAP, GWP CACENA delegated D. Zaganshina to participate at the event.
The agenda included discussions of the following key issues:
- Towards achieving sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific: regional agenda-setting for sustainable development.
- Outcomes of key regional dialogues on sustainable development:
- Asian and Pacific Energy Forum;
- Asian and Pacific Regional Implementation Meeting on Rio+20 Outcomes;
- Second Asia-Pacific Water Summit;
- Asia-Pacific Ministerial Dialogue: From the Millennium Development Goals to the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015;
- Meeting of Stakeholders of the Green Bridge Partnership Programme.
- Regional preparations for the seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the pacific and for the third United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat III).
- Consideration of draft resolutions, recommendations and decisions for submission to the Commission at its seventieth session.
- Consideration of the future focus of the subprogramme.
At the meeting, the overview of actions taken by the ESCAT Secretariat and countries on the issues mentioned was presented. In particular, the ESCAT Secretariat presented information about actions taken help countries transition towards achieving sustainable development. The most comprehensive one so far is the Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific, published in April 2012, which provides detailed guidance and actionable options towards transitioning to a green growth approach with an aim to achieve a resource-efficient economy.
The secretariat has also undertaken initiatives to strengthen and enlarge the pool of professionals in Asia and the Pacific. Thus, in partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, it has established an e-learning facility (www.greengrowthelearning.org/lms). The maiden online course, entitled “Fundamentals of Green Growth”, which runs for six weeks, has been offered 14 times. Thus far, 900 policymakers from 59 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have completed the course.
To support the roll-out of the course at the national level, national e-learning centres were set up in Brunei Darussalam, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. A new e-learning course will be launched in late 2013 based on the Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific. The focus of the course will be on the main elements of developing low carbon green growth.
The secretariat has also provided capacity development support to member States through the Seoul Initiative Network on Green Growth (SINGG), which was set up seven years ago. In partnership with the SINGG secretariat, which is supported by the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea, the ESCAP secretariat organized annual policy consultation forums under the themes “Double dividend of green and economy” (2012) and “Biodiversity for sustainable development” (2013).
In the context of the information and having heard messages of countries on implementation of sustainable development approaches, the representative of SIC ICWC Central Asia introduced to participants the region-wise actions taken in the sphere of water resources management and green growth. In particular, SIC ICWC together with GWP CACENA and with support of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Korea, executed preparatory work on study of a green growth role for strengthening water cooperation and achieving water security within the Aral Sea basin. As prioritized actions, it is planned to develop regional and national green growth strategies for water sector, actively implement IWRM and take water saving measures, improve water and mountain (upper watershed) ecosystems, as well as take measures on risk management, develop early warning systems and mitigation of water-related natural disasters.
The SIC ICWC representative also mentioned the necessity in wider involvement of ESCAT and its partners in green growth capacity development in water sector of Central Asia, for example, through the Seoul Initiative Network on Green Growth. Regional Training Center under SIC ICWC conducts trainings for different target groups - ministerial senior personnel to end users (farmers), and may serve as a regional partner in the issue. These suggestions were reflected in outcome documents of the third session of the ESCAP Committee.
Side event “Regional Partnerships for Sustainable Development”
During the third session of the ESCAP Committee, the invitation extended by the Government of Kazakhstan to ESCAP member States and regional stakeholders to join the Charter of the Green Bridge Partnership Programme, was voiced
Under the session, Kazakhstan organized a special session “Partnership for sustainable development” to inform participant about post-Rio+20 events conducted on Green Bridge Partnership. Green Bridge Partnership was developed by the Government of Kazakhstan, welcomed at the Seventh “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference17 as an implementation mechanism for the Astana Green Bridge Initiative,18 and welcomed in the Rio+20 outcome document.
H.E. Mr. Marat Essenbayev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to ESCAP, Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Bangkok, Thailand, presented the overview of the Green Bridge Partnership Programme. H.E. Mr. Bektas Mukhametzhanov, Vice-Minister of Environment Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana, introduced some development results and prospects of the Programme. Kazakhstan was the first on the post-Soviet area which accepted the national concept of the country’s economy transition towards green growth at governmental level. The President of the country stated that up to 2% of GDP would be allocated for implementation of the concept. Kazakhstan wants to expand green growth approaches not only on its own territory, but help other countries of the region in this. The rapporteur also informed the Government of Kazakhstan undertook the commitment to host the Green Bridge Institute, which would be intended to pool all information, knowledge, and practice on this issue. Kazakhstan plans to hold annual meetings to monitor the programme progress.
Ms. Zhanar Sultanbekova, Director General Investment Group ACME Co LTD LLP, presented the Green Corridor Concept as a mechanism to implement a financial structure for the Green Bridge Partnership.
The SIC ICWC representative thanked Kazakhstan for the leadership in development and implementation of green growth approaches in the region and expressed the hope for more active involvement in green growth actions in water sector at both national and transboundary levels.
Side event “Dialogue on Civil Society Organization Engagement at the Regional Level”
The site event entitled “Dialogue on Civil Society Organization Engagement at the Regional Level” discussed issues of ensuring more efficient and significant engagement of civil society in sustainable development processes in Asia and the Pacific.
Representatives of civil society organization and UN agencies shared their experience in participation of civil society members in UN actions for sustainable development. During the discussion, the SIC ICWC representative told about involvement of representatives from non-commercial NGOs in UNECE activity, particularly, within the frameworks of the 1992 Water Convention, which is now a global convention. Representatives from non-commercial NGOs are invited and take active participation in all meetings of the working bodies of the 1992 Water Convention, such as Meeting of the Parties of the Convention, working and thematic groups. At meetings of UNECE, any attendee can express one’s opinion at any time just raising one’s plate; while the procedures of the ESCAP Committee on Environment and Development provide the floor, first, to representatives of states, then UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations, and, only in conclusion, representatives of civil society organizations. Representatives from non-commercial NGOs, equally with representatives from state bodies, can participate in decision-making processes within the frameworks of the Water Convention, since all decisions at these meetings are made by consensus, but not voting. A representative from non-commercial NGO can also be nominated by a Party of the Convention as an expert to the Compliance Committee.
At the meeting, the report “Strengthening Public Participation at the United Nations for Sustainable Development: Dialogue, Debate, Dissent, Deliberation” prepared by Barbara Adams & Lou Pingeot in June 2013 for the UN DESA/DSD Major Groups Programme was mentioned. The report summarizes problems occurred during the public involvement in the UN and provides some recommendations on their removal in future. Among main concerns raised in the report, are as follows: Inadequate, incomplete or missing Major Groups; Representation vs. facilitation / lack of clarity and transparency; Limited engagement of people’s movements; Quantity vs. quality / How to shift from access to influence; Declining interest in multilateralism / lack of confidence in the UN; Insufficient integration of the “three pillars”; Inadequate national / regional / global dynamic, too much emphasis on global level; Too much English, more language diversity; Insufficient resources; Insufficient respect for the consultation process / tight timelines; Insufficient respect for expertise; Public / corporate sector tension, unequal support from the UN.
Dr. D.R. Ziganshina,
Deputy Director of SIC ICWC