(EnergyAsia, February 28, Thursday) — Environment ministers from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are asking their development partners for additional financial and technical assistance to improve their environmental and natural resource management.

In a joint statement issued after the second GMS Environment Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos last month, the ministers called for the need to take a pragmatic and pro-active approach to sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The GMS includes countries sharing the Mekong River such as Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Economic growth has come at a high cost to the environment.

In 2005, at the first GMS Environmental Ministers Meeting, ministers launched their Core Environment Program, and its flagship Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative.

A key issue of concern at the recent meeting, which was funded through a technical assistance grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was climate change and the increasing risks it poses to biodiversity, livelihoods and economic competitiveness of the GMS. The ministers want additional financial resources, including the promotion of public-private partnerships, to address and respond to climate change risks.

“Considering our common concern that poverty alleviation remains at the core of our developmental efforts, we are confident that our efforts through the Core Environment Program/Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative (CEP/BCI) can assist us in promoting sound environmental management and contribute toward generating income and reducing livelihood vulnerabilities,” the ministers said in the joint statement.

They emphasised the need for sustainable and efficient use of natural resources to improve environmental management and economic competitiveness in the GMS.

Launched in 2006, the GMS Core Environment Program is a long-term programme funded by the ADB. It is implemented under the GMS Economic Cooperation Program with a long-term goal of a poverty-free and ecologically rich GMS. Its implementation is coordinated by the GMS Environment Operations Center in Bangkok, Thailand.