By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
The environment ministers of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attended the fifth GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting in Chiang Mai yesterday to discuss cooperation on the five-year plan, which is supposed to support sustainable growth, promote environmentally friendly development and tackle transboundary environmental impacts within the region.
Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat said the government had signed an MOU with Cambodia to work together to conserve biodiversity and manage forests and wildlife.
The move is the latest cooperative effort among GMS member countries to preserve the environment and set an example for more collaboration in the future.
“This is a very good opportunity for Thailand to host the GMS Environment Ministers’ Meeting for the first time, and during this meeting, the environment ministers of our subregion have agreed on the CEP framework for the next five years,” Surasak said.
The CEP was launched in 2006 as an initiative of the GMS Economic Cooperation Programme. It has a mandate to support environmental cooperation within the subregion and to fight poverty with sustainable development.
The current CEP Strategic Framework is the beginning of the third phase of the programme, which aims to assist GMS countries to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
According to a joint ministerial statement released after the meeting, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will grant US$10 million (Bt313.7 million) in technical assistance to support each country’s operations in the context of the framework.
Surasak said all GMS countries had pledged to work together over the next five years to promote green technology, environmentally friendly logistics, balanced and sustainable management of natural resources, and climate-change resilience and disaster risk management.
He said each member would continue to work to meet the goals of the agreed-upon framework.
Not only was collaboration under the CEP prioritised, Surasak said the framework also provided a vital opportunity for GMS countries to seek bilateral and multilateral cooperation on issues such as transboundary environmental impacts and natural resources management.
“We have just signed the memorandum of understanding with Cambodia to work together on wildlife conservation and biodiversity, as we share a long border and vast forestland with Cambodia. We need to work together to protect wild animals and prevent any threats to the forest and rich ecosystem of both counties,” Surasak said.
“We also discussed a similar plan with Myanmar, because we also have a large area of forest connected to them.”
ADB Southeast Asia regional department director-general Ramesh Subramaniam said the ADB was ready to help GMS countries during the five-year framework by supporting them in terms of human capital, technology and financing.