Ministers from Asia and the Pacific opened a two-day meeting under United Nations auspices today in Seoul, Republic of Korea, to draw up a strategy to enhance development without hurting the environment.
“Your region is especially vulnerable to natural disaster,” Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a statement read out to the Ministerial Segment of the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
“I saw personally the terrible devastation caused by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean late last year. Compounded with persistent poverty and rapid population growth, this disaster places additional pressure on resources and ecosystems,” he added.
ESCAP Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su warned that signs of stress are already apparent on the region’s natural resources. “Now the challenge is for us to continue the economic growth necessary to reduce poverty while ensuring environmental sustainability,” he said.
The Ministerial Segment of the conference will consider concrete plans to tackle environmental degradation with a green growth policy framework that will be part of the Seoul Initiative for Environmentally Sustainable Growth, or “Green Growth,” and a regional implementation plan for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific (2006-2010).
The conference, which opened last Thursday under the theme “Achieving Environmentally Sustainable Growth,” has drawn some 300 participants from 52 countries of the ESCAP region, 32 of them at Ministerial level representing environment, planning and finance ministries.