Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
  • Name: Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Resilience (4 hits),

Full Submission


ADB?s long-term strategic framework 2008-2020 (ADB Strategy 2020) identifies environmentally sustainable growth, together with inclusive economic growth, and regional integration as the three strategic agendas for the Asia-Pacific region to achieve poverty reduction and improve the quality of life for its people. ADB?s efforts in greening economic growth aim at promoting environmentally sustainable and inclusive growth while addressing climate change. This agenda is generally consistent with the green economy and green growth concepts as discussed in the Rio+20 process.

ADB considers the UNCSD summit as a crucial milestone in the global agenda towards sustainable development and has supported the Rio+ 20 process in collaboration with several partners and in particular with UNESCAP and UNEP. In this context ADB has co-sponsored a series of regional and subregional consultations including the recent Asia Pacific Major Groups and Stakeholders Meeting and the Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting, with both UNCSD preparatory events held in Seoul, Republic of Korea from 17 to 20 October 2011.

This brief submission is organized in five parts as follows: (i) review of the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific; (ii) the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; (iii) the institutional framework for sustainable development; (iv) conclusions; and (v) annex on relevant ADB initiatives and publications on sustainable development.

(i) Review of the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific

During the last couple of decades, the Asia Pacific region has built significant economic momentum. It has been for several years now the fastest growing region in the world. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Yet our region still remains home to a majority of the world's poor. Progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is uneven with almost two billion Asians living without basic sanitation and nearly half a billion without safe drinking water. Infant mortality in some countries is more than 10 times higher than that in developed countries. Rising food prices continue to place severe pressure on Asia's poor. In addition, there are widening disparities in incomes with rapid economic growth often disguising deepening inequality.

Fueled by increasing resource-intensive growth, Asia-Pacific countries are struggling with rapid urbanization and industrialization and associated air and water pollution, the degradation of natural resources and loss of biodiversity, worsening water stress, and increased generation of solid, industrial, and hazardous waste. By 2030, demand for water in Asia is anticipated to exceed supply by 40% and since 80% of the water is consumed in agricultural production, water shortage may lead to food shortage. This year, food price inflation within the region has averaged around 10%, and economists at ADB predict that this could push an additional 64 million people into extreme poverty. Climate change is exacerbating these challenges while raising new ones, such as rising sea levels and increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events including floods and droughts.

In recent years a number of countries in the region have pursued and invested in green strategies and policy reform with many also making policy statements supporting green growth and low carbon development. While some progress has been made, sustainable development is an unfinished agenda and much more needs to be done. ADB shares the responsibilities of promoting more inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth and is firmly committed to support the region in fulfilling its sustainable development objectives. As a contribution to the assessment of regional progress and ADB?s assistance towards sustainable development, the annex provided in part (v) below contains a list of relevant ADB supported initiatives, programs and knowledge products.

(ii) Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

Greening economic development in the region needs to be centered around two major implementation directions: (i) promoting transitions to sustainable infrastructure investments and (ii) improving natural resource management and the integrity of ecosystem services. Addressing climate change is also a cross-cutting priority area for action in the transition towards green economies. Sustainable Infrastructure: According to ADB estimates, the region needs about $8 trillion of infrastructure investment over the next ten years to cope with rapid urbanization, industrialization and other challenges. Two thirds of this will be for new stock, which presents tremendous opportunities to build infrastructure that is more accessible, efficient, and inclusive. Making the right choices now can lock the region into more environmentally sound, low carbon and climate resilient infrastructure that will be around for many decades to come. To help make this a reality, ADB has initiated major programs to promote clean energy, public and non-motorized transport, low carbon and climate resilient urban development and integrated water resource management [see part (v)].

Improving natural resource management and the integrity of ecosystem services: The second priority concerns the region?s globally significant biodiversity and natural resources, which currently face significant degradation and loss. Our region has several large-scale ecosystems which are central to the future well being of Asia-Pacific due to the ecosystem services they provide and the importance of these to human welfare and economic development. These include for example the Coral Triangle ?also known as the Amazon of the Seas, the Greater Mekong Subregion forest and biodiversity complex, the Heart of Borneo rainforest and the living Himalayas? sometimes referred to as the Water Towers of Asia. In these areas there are new opportunities for enhanced regional cooperation and local action, and as indicated by the TEEB Report (2010), economic returns from efforts to sustainably manage these ecosystems can be worth ten to one hundred times the cost. Success in these areas will however require strong national leadership, country driven programming, and innovative partnerships among financiers, civil society and local level communities. The focus should be on integrated approaches i.e. reducing poverty reduction while improving natural resource management, as many rural poor are directly dependent on ecosystems for a substantial portion of their incomes and are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of land and water degradation and climatic variability and change.

Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management: There is also a need to address the climate change challenge and support the region?s transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. ADB?s climate change program focuses on five region-wide priorities: (i) expanding the use of clean energy; (ii) encouraging sustainable transport and urban development; (iii) managing land use and forests for carbon sequestration; (iv) promoting climate-resilient development; and (v) strengthening related policies and institutions. Tools and methods are also required to help countries better address disaster risks and current climate variability risks while anticipating and adapting to future climatic conditions. To this end, countries? poverty reduction strategies and targets?including gender equality and other social development objectives?should take better account of changing climatic conditions and disaster risks, and build measures to enhance the resiliency of poor communities, women, and other vulnerable groups.

(iii) Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development

More effective institutional arrangements are key to achieving sustainable development. At the international level, there is certainly scope for a more coherent interface among the MEAs, which will greatly facilitate regional and country level action. At the regional level, stronger arrangements for facilitating regional cooperation would also be very welcome. At country level, many countries have adequate environmental laws and regulations, but effective compliance and enforcement continues to be elusive. Governments need to join forces with communities and work together with industry and other stakeholders. And there is scope for better incentive frameworks for environmentally responsible action. The time is ripe for improved policies, including fiscal reforms, removal of perverse subsidies ? such as the large subsidies for fossil fuels, and much better valuation of critical ecosystem services. Support to strengthening environmental governance and management capacities in the region must also continue. Policy and market failures must be corrected to improve incentives for sound environmental management. In most cases, no one single policy tool can bring about the needed changes in behaviour. Thus, a range of approaches are necessary, including regulations, market-based instruments, voluntary schemes, and information disclosure. At local level, more policy and legal reforms that strengthen community rights and create incentives for sustainable local resource management are needed. At the country level there is a need to strengthen and clarify roles and mandates of environmental and sector ministries and agencies, as well as provincial and local authorities. At the regional level, it will be crucial to build on the experience from regional and national networks such as the ADB-supported Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network.

Environmental impact assessment and social safeguards processes are also important. Under its Safeguard Policy Statement, ADB is providing support towards strengthening and effective application of country safeguard systems (CSS) with a focus on the capacity development of borrowers/clients. This is being pursued also by facilitating knowledge exchange and dissemination through existing and well-functioning regional networks. ADB is coordinating with other development agencies in supporting and mobilizing resources toward CSS capacity development activities.

Regional cooperation and integration is also a crucial area for action to maintain Asia's growing prosperity and move towards sustainable development. Recognizing that many of the region?s critical ecosystems transcend political boundaries and that several pollution issues have a transboundary nature, governance arrangements at the regional and subregional level are also increasingly becoming a necessity. Key elements needed here are effective regional cooperation and institutions, strong national leadership, country driven development planning and investments programming, and innovative partnerships among financiers, civil society, and others key players. Regional and subregional strategy and policy dialogues and programs/initiatives are the main vehicles for this agenda. As highlighted by the ADB-supported Clean Air Initiative, regional cooperation can also take the form of research, monitoring database development and capacity building on cross-border issues and regional partnership building through various regional forums, networking, and exchange programs.

ADB will also increasingly play a catalytic role in mobilizing additional public and private financial resources to supplement its own resources. This will include: (i) helping the region gain access to additional concessionary resources that will be mobilized through a number of funds, including internal funds managed directly by ADB and those managed and implemented jointly with other partners, such as with the Global Environment Facility, and the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) (ii) facilitating countries? access to innovative market mechanisms such as payment for ecosystem services (PES) and reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and (iii) whenever feasible, assist countries in further leveraging private sector financing through appropriate funding instruments and vehicles such as equity funds and venture capital programs. ADB will also actively develop partnerships to provide access to complementary knowledge and expertise.

(iv) Conclusions

The Rio+ 20 Conference on Sustainable Development provides a strategic opportunity for the global community to take stock of the current status of the environment and its links with supporting inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. To be effective however, the UNCSD will need to go beyond a mere discussion of problems, and instead provide a rallying call to develop a new agreed vision and a set of solutions and mechanisms that can support and finance inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth. To this end, it will be useful for the international community to develop a Road Map of Actions and a Toolbox of practical and cost effective approaches that can assist countries and communities to implement the solutions. In developing both the Road Map and the Toolbox, it will be important however that we build and foster synergies with existing MEAs, including the UNCBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC. With respect to financing, it will be important that mechanisms are developed using innovative approaches to leverage both public financial resources and the private sector. To do this, we need to engage more business communities while governments around the world should continue to work on the incentives required to shift economies to a sustainable path. This may include removing harmful subsidies and providing tax breaks and other incentives. As a partner in the future of the region, ADB will continue to work closely with its developing member countries to help the Rio+20 process and help Asia-Pacific ultimately achieve environmentally sustainable and inclusive growth.

(v) Annex

ADB-supported Initiatives that Support the Rio + 20 Agenda

A. Promoting transitions to sustainable infrastructure

? ADB?s Clean Energy Program seeks to increase regional energy efficiency in energy, transport and urban sectors; to adopt renewable energy sources; and to improve access to energy for the poor and remote regions - avoiding the use of traditional biomass.

? The Water Financing Program seeks to expand ADB?s investments in the water sector and aim to provide increased access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and irrigation, reduce risks from floods, and improve water resources management in river basins.

? The Cities Development Initiative for Asia assists Asian cities to identify and develop urban investment projects that emphasize urban environment improvement, urban poverty reduction and climate change mitigation or adaptation.

? ADB assists DMCs in Climate Proofing Infrastructure (e.g. ports, roads, water supply and sanitation) to ensure they are not compromised by climate variability and change or by natural hazards.

? The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) focuses on translating knowledge to policies and actions that reduce air pollution and GHG emissions from transport, energy, and other sectors.

? Low Carbon Technology Exchange. ADB is proposing an assisted broker model that will proactively identify partnerships between willing buyers and sellers of low-carbon technologies in order to facilitate their rapid transfer and diffusion in Asia and the Pacific.

? Asia Climate Change and Clean Energy Venture Capital Initiative. Supports an equity infusion to several venture capital funds to accelerate private sector-based innovation, transfer, and diffusion of climate change technologies.

B. Improving natural resource management and maintaining ecosystem integrity

? The Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Program (CEP) and its flagship Biodiversity Conservation Corridor Initiative (BCI) aims to mainstreaming environmental considerations into key GMS development sectors such as tourism, transport and energy and promoting local livelihood and conservation activities with high value biodiversity landscapes.

? The Coral Triangle Initiative launched by the six countries in 2007, aims to preserve and manage the region's marine resources. International partners include ADB, which is coordinating the mobilization of financial support for the plan of action.

? ADB works with the Global Environment Facility on projects focused on biodiversity conservation and natural resource management, sustainable land management and energy efficiency, and climate change adaptation.

? ADB?s Poverty and Environment Program aims to accelerate learning about poverty-environment linkages and effective approaches for poverty reduction.

C. Building environmental governance capacity

? ADB supports the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) improve compliance with environmental laws in Asia through a regional exchange of innovative policies and practices.

? The Safeguard Policy Statement approved in July 2009 strengthens protections already in place on the environment, involuntary resettlement and Indigenous Peoples.

? Regional partnerships for climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness will seek to increase the financial Resilience of participating Pacific Island countries to the effects of natural disasters.

? Knowledge hubs. ADB has been working for about a decade with its wide range of partners across Asia and the Pacific to build knowledge of the causes and impacts of climate change and how they can combated.

? Food Security and Agricultural Research Program . Help address food security challenges due to market volatility, land and water shortages, climate change and slowing public investments in crop research and rural infrastructure

Knowledge Products

1. Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century. Intended for policy makers, top business leaders and key opinion makers within Asia, the study offers a long-term perspective of the Asia region as a whole as opposed to the more common approach that delivers a short- to medium-term perspective of selected countries, subregions or issues.

2. Paths to 2015: MDG Priorities in Asia and the Pacific. The Asia-Pacific MDG Report 2010/11, Launched at the World Poverty Summit in New York, is the fifth in the series published by ESCAP, ADB and UNDP on MDG achievement provides a resource which policy makers, development practitioners and other stakeholders should find useful in addressing the remaining challenges in achieving the MDGs.

3. Environment Program: Greening Growth in Asia and the Pacific .Presents a snapshot of the Asian Development Bank?s (ADB) environmental strategies, programs, initiatives, partnerships, and a range of activities that demonstrate ADB?s commitment to support environmentally sustainable growth in Asia and the Pacific?a strategic agenda of ADB?s Strategy 2020.

4. Women and Labour Markets in Asia: Rebalancing for Gender Equality Provides an overview and trend analysis of available information on where and how women work, and under what conditions, before, during and after the recent crisis as well as in the current recovery.

5. Comprehensive Action Plans of the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion: A Priority Seascape of the Coral Triangle Initiative. Includes business plans and cost estimates to implement the three action plans developed from the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Conservation Plan.

6. Access to Justice for the Urban Poor: Toward Inclusive Cities suggests solutions that can be built into the design of urban development projects undertaken by the Asian Development Bank to address the common problems and grievances of the urban poor, and to improve urban governance overall.

7. Accounting for Health Impacts of Climate Change. Aims to improve the understanding of the human health dimensions of climate change and how projects in areas other than health, such as agriculture, water financing programs, and disaster risk reduction need to account explicitly for the health impacts of their interventions.

8. Buyer, Regulator, and Enabler: The Government's Role in Ecosystem Services Markets. Aims to provide insights for policy makers in the People's Republic of China in the development of a national eco-compensation policy framework, this paper discusses the public sector?s role in payments for ecological services internationally.

9. ADB Climate Change Programs: Facilitating Integrated Solutions in Asia and the Pacific. Through more than 275 project interventions, upgrading investments totaling more than $17 billion, ADB is currently assisting in worldwide efforts to address climate change, and move Asia and the Pacific onto a more inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth path.

10. Building Climate Resilience in the Agriculture Sector of Asia and the Pacific. The ADB-sponsored agriculture sector study, carried out by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), uses predictions of global climate models to develop scenarios to 2050 for Asia and to derive implications for food security.

11. Infrastructure for a Seamless Asia. This book addresses major challenges in developing regional infrastructure?both hard and soft?in Asia, specifically exploring the costs and benefits, financing requirements, and infrastructure priorities in the region.

12. National REDD+ Strategies in Asia and the Pacific: Progress and Challenges. This paper takes stock of developments in Asian and Pacific countries as they prepare to take advantage of emerging financial incentives for forest conservation created through the "REDD+" approach for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and other actions that conserve and enhance forest carbon stocks.

13. Sustainable Transport Initiative Operational Plan. Provides details of how ADB will update its operations in the transport sector in line with Strategy 2020. ADB will focus on creating transport systems that are accessible, safe, affordable, and environment-friendly.

14. Attaining Access for All: Pro-Poor Policy and Regulation for Water and Energy Services. Identifies specific infrastructure and utility service reform measures that can be taken to advance the interests of the poor.

15. Non-State Providers and Public-Private Partnerships in Education for the Poor. Report highlights issues, opportunities and challenges for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in fulfilling the rights to education for all?particularly the poor?in East Asia and the Pacific.

16. Asia Solar Energy Initiative: A Primer. Provides information to relevant stakeholders on the importance of developing the solar energy sector in Asia and the Pacific and investment opportunities and challenges in the sector.

17. Food Security and Climate Change in the Pacific: Rethinking the Options. Describes the present state of food security and its contributing factors in the Pacific region, assesses its prospects amid the growing threats and likely impacts of climate change, and presents potential areas for more active assistance, investments, and interventions from ADB and other development partners.

18. Preview: Green Growth, Resources and Resilience. This preview of the forthcoming Green Growth, Resources and Resilience report highlights the shifts that have taken place in the outlook for the Asian and Pacific region since 2005.The preview is intended to assist policymakers and other stakeholders involved in the 2010 Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific.
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