Moving from business-as-usual to sustainability: The ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme

Policymakers, ministers, and representatives from the Asean+3 countries (including China, Japan and South Korea) and the European Union gathered in Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday for the Asean+3 Leadership Programme paving the way to more sustainable consumption and production (SCP) systems and behaviours in Asia Pacific.

Asean countries’ economies and GDP have grown dramatically since the 1970s, and in 2013 had a combined GDP of some US$2.4 trillion. With a population of 600 million people, Asean trails just behind China and India with the third largest labour force. With nearly 67 million consumers and increased income, household purchasing power is on the rise. The projected increase of 125 million consumers by 2025 will put the subregion on the frontiers of consumer growth[1].

“The Asean+3 region is the engine of global economic growth. Embedding sustainable consumption and production into the region’s development path is crucial not only for sustained and sustainable growth Asian countries, but also for safeguarding our global environment,” said Kaveh Zahedi, Regional Director of UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The Asean+3 Leadership Programme, now in its seventh year, has become an important regional platform, for the development and implementation of SCP policies. It builds knowledge and skills of policymakers in Asean countries to trigger change in national systems of governance which influence how we consume and produce in the region. It also exposes policy makers to practical learning cases that demonstrate a shift from a business-as-usual scenario to one that can potentially influence, change behaviour and systems, as well as policy making practices.

“TheLeadership Programme enables participants to address pressing development challenges, such as meeting their poverty eradication and economic growth goals by investing in rather than undermining their natural capital and wealth. There is great potential in reducing the eco-intensity of consumption, rather than the amount of consumption, but addressing these opportunities requires changes in policy,” Zahedi added.

To strengthen the focus on applied learning from existing SCP policy successes, the Leadership Programme will be preceded by a SWITCH-Asia Network Facility workshop entitled “National SCP Policy Developments - Progress and Impacts”, organized by the SWITCH-Asia Network Facility.

The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-AS), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Asean Secretariat, and the Asean Environment Ministries are partners in the Asean+3 Leadership Programme on SCP.

The European Union’s SWITCH-Asia Programme directly supports the advancement of SCP policies in Asian countries through a Regional Policy Support Component (RPSC) implemented by UNEP and National Policy Support Components (PSCs) in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

Building knowledge and skills among policymakers is an essential part of the policy support offered through the SWITCH-Asia Programme. For this event, the target participants are mainly policymakers from the Asean Member States and three Asean dialogue partner countries - China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

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