(EnergyAsia, June 21 2011, Tuesday) — Asia-Pacific countries can cushion themselves against food and fuel price shocks and natural disasters by using natural resources and energy more efficiently, said the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
Speaking yesterday at the Global Green Growth Summit in Seoul, South Korea, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Noeleen Heyzer, said:
“Green growth remains an essential and urgent task for enhancing the energy and food security of each country in the Asia-Pacific region.”
The current “energy, resource and carbon intensive” development pattern must give way to “green growth” to reduce wasteful use of resources and energy, Dr Heyzer said, adding that this was particularly important at a time when the region faces triple threats from recurring climate-related natural disasters and soaring food and fuel prices.
ESCAP said its latest estimates show that rising food and oil prices can keep an additional 42 million people in the region in poverty in 2011.
The Asia Pacific is also the world’s most vulnerable to natural disasters, with its people four times more likely to be affected by nature’s wrath than those in Africa and 25 times more likely than those in Europe or North America.
Dr Heyzer said green growth needs to be linked to inclusive and equitable economic initiatives and can be part of regional, sub-regional and bilateral development initiatives and partnerships.
ESCAP said it has been pioneering green growth in the region, an example being the 2010 Astana Green Bridge Initiative linking Europe with Asia and the Pacific which will promote inter-regional cooperation in pro-poor, pro-environment growth. ESCAP is also developing a ‘Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap’ for the region funded by the South Korean government.
“Green growth, as one of the strategies to achieve sustainable development by improving the efficiency of the way we use our energy, resources, and in particular carbon, is no longer only an ecological conditionality but also an imperative to improve resilience of our economy against energy, food and resource price volatility,” she told the summit.
“For a region whose efficiency in using energy and resources still remains low, improving the efficiency of our production and consumption will provide us with a new engine of growth.”
Attended by 800 participants from 25 countries, the one-day summit was jointly organised by the South Korean government and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The event marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the OECD.
The world will have the chance at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil to commit itself to a global green economic growth model based on a partnership between rich and poor nations, said Dr Heyzer.