Asia-Pacific Summit Prioritizes Resource Efficiency, Anti-Pollution Measures
Photo by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
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Environment ministers at the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, organized jointly by UN Environment and ESCAP, discussed measures to improve resource efficiency and combat pollution.

Ministers emphasized the need for concerted action on a range of environmental issues, including waste management, transboundary pollution and marine litter.

At the close of the Summit, they adopted a Ministerial Declaration and agreed to forward further recommendations to the third meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3).

8 September 2017: Environment ministers at the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, organized jointly by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP or UN Environment) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), discussed measures to improve resource efficiency and combat pollution. Ministers emphasized the need for concerted action on environmental issues including waste management, transboundary pollution and marine litter. At the close of the Summit, they adopted a Ministerial Declaration and agreed to forward further recommendations to the third meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3).

The Summit took place from 5-8 September 2017, on the theme, ‘Towards a Resource-efficient and Pollution-free Asia-Pacific.’ The event brought together the seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-7), organized by ESCAP, and the second Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific, organized by UN Environment.

The senior officials’ meetings took place from 5-6 September. Member States reviewed the implementation of previous commitments on sustainable development and presented many examples of policy and practice supporting the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), multilateral agreements, and commitments under the UNEA.

The ministerial segment took place from 7-8 September. Ministers took part in a dialogue on the theme of the Summit and provided policy perspectives on tackling resource-efficiency and pollution, highlighting many examples of national actions.

The Summit adopted a Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Development for Asia and the Pacific (E/ESCAP/MCED(7)/L.4). The Ministerial Declaration was negotiated through the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ESCAP in Bangkok, in the months leading up to the Ministerial Summit.

The Ministerial Declaration requests the ESCAP Executive Secretary to: prioritize regional and subregional cooperation for the conservation, sustainable use and management of natural resources in cooperation with UN Environment; facilitate regional networks for exchange of knowledge, experiences, lessons learned and good practices; facilitate collection and dissemination of information, including on sustainable consumption and production (SCP), waste and pollution, to support science- and evidence-based policies; provide technical support and capacity building, with a particular focus on countries vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation; and promote the review of progress at the regional level through the Committee on Environment and Development. The Declaration decides to convene the Committee on Environment and Development, a subsidiary body of ESCAP, at the ministerial level in 2022.

The Summit also served as a regional preparatory process leading up to UNEA-3 in December 2017, as delegates adopted a Chair’s Summary (UNEP/APEnvForum(2)/7) containing Member States’ comments on draft resolutions that have been submitted to the Secretariat of Governing Bodies in Nairobi, Kenya ahead of UNEA-3. There are five such resolutions submitted to date: marine litter and microplastics; eliminating exposure to lead paints; the environment and health nexus; synchronization of objectives and activities of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs); and air quality in cities. Member States also discussed the draft ministerial declaration intended for adoption at UNEA-3. They requested that some common principles of environment and development be included, such as those related to common but differentiated responsibilities, technology transfers and financial assistance. The Chair’s Summary includes the views expressed by civil society present at the Summit.

Several side events took place during the Summit, on: the contribution of the Paris Agreement to achieving a resource-efficient and pollution-free Asia-Pacific; implementation of the Astana Green Bridge Initiative; the need to govern climate geo-engineering; green growth; air and water pollution; and gender, the environment and sustainable development. UN Environment presented the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards on Thursday evening, recognizing four institutions and four individuals for their efforts in seizing illegal shipments of hazardous chemicals and waste.

On Friday, 8 June, a special event in plenary focused on, ‘Strengthening Regional Ocean Governance and Partnership Towards Clean Seas.’ UN senior officials briefed delegates on UN Environment’s Clean Seas Campaign, and highlighted the outcomes of the June 2017 UN Oceans Conference, urging participants not to lose momentum.

The conference sought to be as carbon neutral as possible, with a low-waste approach to paper and printing, and providing participants with reusable coffee cups. Around the venue, participants viewed exhibits about UN Environment and ESCAP campaigns conducted in collaboration with a range of international organization and civil society partners, including: a large whale-inspired structure, featuring discarded plastic retrieved from Thailand’s beaches, promoting the Clean Seas Campaign against marine litter and offering delegates the opportunity to experience a virtual reality swim with a whale; an Acid Rain Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia exhibit raising awareness of causes and impacts; a World Environment Day exhibit, highlighting several campaigns, including on action to reduce air pollution and illegal trade in wildlife; and the ‘4 Billion Dreams’ exhibit, documenting sustainable lifestyles around Asia. [Meeting Documents] [Draft ministerial declaration on environment and development for Asia and the Pacific] [Chair’s summary of the second UNEP Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific][IISDRS coverage of the meeting]


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