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GMS policy-makers discuss growth amid water, energy and food challenges

Policy-makers from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) began discussions today on the challenges and opportunities for balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability in Bangkok.

The two-day conference, entitled The GMS 2020: Balancing Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability, is organised by GMS countries including Viet Nam, Cambodia, China, Lao, Myanmar and Thailand in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank.

Strategic measures are expected to ensure economic growth is balanced with food, water and energy security, especially in light of increasing climate variability.

Since the six countries sharing the Mekong River formed the economic co-operation program in 1992, gross domestic product growth in the subregion has averaged about eight per cent a year, while real per capita incomes more than tripled between 1993 and 2010. However, as the economies grow, so do competing demands for natural resources.

Conference participants, including government officials, development partners, academics and private sector representatives, will examine how growth has impacted the environment and look at the future of water in the region. They will also look at whether economic growth has led to poverty reduction, forecast food and water needs to 2050, and discuss ways of scaling environmental and economic challenges.

GMS countries have already co-operated on the Core Environment Program Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative, which addresses adaptation and mitigation measures, as well as environmental implications for agriculture, energy, tourism and transport planning and investment decisions. The GMS leaders have also endorsed a 10-year strategy to enhance agricultural development, pro-poor sustainable tourism, low-carbon development and management of the sub-region’s richly diverse ecosystems.

Since 1992, ADB has provided the GMS Economic Co-operation Program with technical assistance worth more than US$57 million for specific environmental initiatives.

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