UN economic official stresses need for sustainable development at Asia conference

8 March 2007

While developing economies in Asia and the Pacific are projected to grow by an impressive 7.3 per cent this year, such growth is driven by high consumption of resources and cannot be sustained long-term, the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) warned today, as he called on all countries to adopt sustainable development strategies.

While developing economies in Asia and the Pacific are projected to grow by an impressive 7.3 per cent this year, such growth is driven by high consumption of resources and cannot be sustained long-term, the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) warned today, as he called on all countries to adopt sustainable development strategies.

UNESCAP Executive Secretary Kim Hak-Su made his remarks at the opening of a two-day workshop on sustainable development strategies in Asia held in the Thai capital Bangkok, which is being jointly organized by UNESCAP, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of industrialized countries and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

“It is a challenge requiring shared government actions. A sustainable development strategy must be the core and foundation of every country’s economic growth plan,” Mr. Kim told over 100 high-level representatives from the region and the OECD countries attending the workshop, which will discuss ways to ensure that environmental and social concerns are reflected in development planning.

A recent UNESCAP report warns that Asia and the Pacific is already living beyond its ecological carrying capacity and to ensure continuing economic growth the agency says countries in the region will have to move away from the current ‘grow first, clean up later’ mentality and embrace a “Green Growth” model.

This model emphasizes that environmental and ecological considerations must be integral to policy planning to ensure long-term economic and social viability, and economic growth should not be measured in gross domestic product (GDP) alone but also in a set of eco-indicators.

“Green Growth” is also about seeing environmental protection and clean production not as a cost or burden, but as an investment and it entails actively promoting business opportunities in such activities, as well as making the tax system favourable to environmental-friendly projects. Sustainable consumption is also part of the model.

 

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