Asia Pacific environment ministers chart course for region’s development

Ministers and high level officials from 35 countries will meet in Bangkok, 19‑20 May, for the inaugural Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific to find solutions to pressing environmental and heath challenges, which can adversely affect the region’s future economic development and poverty reduction.

Opportunities provided by the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the region’s readiness to implement and report on the set of Sustainable Development Goals will top the agenda of the meeting. Ways to tackle pressing environmental and health challenges, such as air pollution and chemicals and waste will also be discussed, along with the region’s current environment outlook and emerging trends, which may jeopardize prospects for inclusive and sustainable growth. Finally, the delegates will focus on the environmental priorities and a regional environmental agenda to take forward to the UN Environment Assembly in 2016.

“The Asia-Pacific region has seen great progress in the past decades, in terms of economic growth, but there are clear signs that environmental damage – from air pollution to degraded ecosystems –is diminishing the development gains and future prospects,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and Under-Secretary of the United Nations.

“Decoupling economic growth from resource use and pollution, enhancing the resilience of our cities and communities, decarbonizing our economies, and valuing and investing in our ecosystems are all solutions that bring multiple benefits to the economy, the people and the planet,” he added

Among the trends to be discussed at the Forum is the region’s increased vulnerability to climate change and disasters. In 2014 alone, disasters cost nearly US$60 million along with immeasurable human costs. High levels of air, water and soil pollution are also generating significant social and health costs, as well as implications for industrial and economic activity.

Over 7 million people die prematurely each year from indoor and outdoor air pollution, 70 per cent of these in Asia Pacific. The region has also overtaken the rest of the world in consumption of primary resources, such as steel, cement and coal, using more than half of the world’s supply of these materials.

H.E. Mr. Anote Tong, President of the Republic of Kiribati and H.E. Mrs. Masoumeh Ebtakar, Vice President and Head of Department of Environment of Iran will be among the dignitaries attending the forum. UNEP will also be hosting side meetings which will bring together Chief Justices and judiciary officials, the Heads of the region’s Stock Exchanges and civil society organizations.

For more information: go to

or contact: Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tel: + (66 2) 2882127; Mobile: +(66 8) 17001376. E-mail:

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