Working Group on Environment: 21st Annual Meeting

Bangkok, Thailand 23rd June 2015

Hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Working Group on Environment (WGE) brought together WGE members with representatives from the Asian Development Bank and development partners to review implementation progress of the Core Environment Program implementation and to discuss key priorities.

Topics discussed included:

  • CEP Midterm Review findings and post review actions;
  • Emerging environmental policy and strategic directions in the GMS;
  • Institutional support for environmental cooperation in the GMS; and
  • CEP in the context of the GMS Regional Investment Framework.

Please find presentations, speeches and other documents below:

See more content: GMS General Events

See also

Same Energy, More Power: Accelerating Energy Efficiency in Asia

6th June 2013
Publication

This ADB report examines prospects for ADB to ramp up efforts in the region for greater utilization of demand-side energy efficiency, the most cost-effective source of energy supply. The report further identifies global and regional trends that are driving Asia’s energy demand and the resulting policy and regulatory environment for energy efficiency.

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GMS Environment Media Roundup–May 2015

9th June 2015
News

Greater Mekong Subregion

Real integration action in mainland SE Asia 
Those caught up in the hype over the Asean Community (AC) and its three pillars of political-security (APSC), economic (AEC) and socio-cultural (ASCC) by end 2015 are fixated on the wrong places. Integration from connectivity, where borders are proving increasingly irrelevant, is happening less on paper and more on the ground in mainland of Southeast Asia. Beyond the agreements and scorecards of the AC, mainland Southeast Asia is where real integration will take place. 
Source: Bangkok Post (May 21, 2015)


 Mekong Region could lose 30pc forests by 2030: WWF
Almost 30 million hectares of forest area may be lost in the Mekong region by 2030, according to the Living Forests Report from WWF Myanmar.
Source: Myanmar Business Today (May 28-30, 2015)
 
What lies ahead for ASEAN's wildlife?
This February, Myanmar’s Forestry Department announced that it had captured a rare white elephant roaming wild in the jungles of the nation’s Ayeyarwady Region. It joined eight others already held in captivity in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon. But, don’t feel completely sorry for these majestic animals – protected at least from animal traffickers eager to feed China’s demand for ivory and other wildlife products.
Source: Myanmar Times (May 26, 2015)
 
Myanmar may need to compete for supplies as region turns to coal
The Myanmar government’s approval of a Thai-Japanese consortium’s plan to build a large US$2.8 billion coal-fired power station in Myanmar’s southeast Mon State underlines a trend across the region to opt for the polluting fossil fuels to generate electricity.
Source: Mizzima (May 14, 2015)
 

Mekong nations to set up EIA working group
Government officials and civil society representatives from across the Mekong region have agreed to establish a working group to develop a regional public participation guideline for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) this week in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Source: The Nation (May 14, 2015)
 
Multiple dams are an ominous threat to life on the Mekong River
A total of 11 dams are planned along the Mekong, storing up trouble for millions of people, the world’s largest inland fishery and critically endangered species.
Source: The Guardian (May 6, 2015)
 
Mekong fish stocks being sacrificed on local bickering
The need for a coherent region-wide strategy for the Mekong has never been greater.
Excessive flooding and contamination of salt water from rising sea levels caused by global warming are shaping-up as the biggest threats to the Mekong River, the fish stocks of which serve as the livelihoods for the roughly 60 million people living along its banks.
Source: The Diplomat (May 24, 2015)
 

Are the Mekong River dams double-edged swords?
The dams provide hydroelectric power and jobs, but they also have many distressing consequences. The Mekong is one of the most famous rivers on Earth. To geography buffs and Nat Geo readers, it is on par with the Nile, the Amazon and the Mississippi. To the people who live along its banks, the Mekong is a source of food, a superhighway, a laundry room and a backyard. By some estimates, as many as 240 million people make their living directly or indirectly from the river. 
Source: Mother Nature Network (May 13, 2015)
 
Charting the upsurge in hydropower development
A new report from The World Energy Council provides a critical review of the current state of the global hydropower industry.
Source: Eco business (May 25, 2015)
 
Cambodia, Vietnam  agree on Forest Protection Plan
Cambodia and Vietnam have initiated the first ever cooperation agreement on forest protection and management for the Eastern Plains Landscape, the largest lowland forest of Southeast Asia.
Source:  Khmer Times (May 24, 2015)
 

Inaugural forum for Asia-Pacific environment ministers held
Environment Ministers and Authorities from 35countries across Asia Pacific met on May 19 to find solutions to pressing sustainable development, health and environment challenges facing the region at the inaugural First Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities Forum.
Source: Eco business (May 26, 2015)

Timber sales to Vietnam trebled in 2014, finds report
Timber exports from Cambodia to Vietnam more than tripled in 2014 compared with the year before, despite ongoing negotiations to curb the trade, according to a new report.
Source:  Phnom Penh Post (May 30, 2015)
 
Myanmar, Laos open first friendship bridge
Myanmar and Laos on Saturday formally opened the first-ever friendship bridge across the Mekong River that links Myanmar's Tachileik in Shan state and Laungnamtha Province of Laos, according to the live report of MNTV Channel.
Source: Xinhua Net (May 9, 2015)

Thailand, neighbours to standardise border checkpoints
Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam will standardise rules and inspections at border checkpoints to enhance economic connectivity along the so-called East-West Economic Corridor.
Source: Bangkok Post (May 21, 2015)
 
Win-win cleantech solutions for Southeast Asia
As Southeast Asia develops, it faces challenges in areas like waste, water, and pollution management. European and Asian cleantech companies can collaborate on win-win solutions for both regional economies.
Source: Eco business (May 25, 2015)

Cambodia

Lawmakers bend PM’s ear on dam
A proposal to transform the Areng Valley in Koh Kong province into an eco-tourism destination has been sent by leader of parliament Heng Samrin to Prime Minister Hun Sen on behalf of a group of opposition lawmakers.
Source:  Phnom Penh Post (May 22, 2015)
 
New policy to boost farming
The long-awaited Agricultural Extension Policy, rolled out yesterday by the Agriculture Ministry, will focus on making up-to-date knowledge and technology accessible to farming communities and increase efficiency and productivity in the sector.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (May 29, 2015)
 

Transmission line to connect dam by 2017
A $92 million transmission line will be constructed at the Lower Sesan II hydro dam in Stung Treng by June 2017 to transfer power to Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces, according to a release from Malaysian power system engineering company Pestech International.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (May 21, 2015)
 
Cambodia forest communities confront illegal loggers as authorities look away
Sok Plok and his fellow forestry activists are surprisingly fast for men in flip-flops as they navigate through the thick, thorny vegetation. They have been alerted by the distant humming of tractor engines; a sound that, in this part of Cambodia, normally means illegal loggers are afoot.
Source: The Guardian (May 13, 2015)
 
Group highlights endangered species in Cambodia
World Wildlife Fund seeks to highlight endangerment of 10 species in a protected forest area, ahead of International Endangered Species Day.
Source: Anadolu Agency (May 11, 2015)
 
Proposed border checkpoint and road threaten critical Cambodian forest and wildlife
A proposed border checkpoint at Kbal Damrei, on Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, together with a new road leading up to it, may harm Cambodia’s Mondulkiri Protected Forest, according to a recent press release by WWF-Cambodia. 
Source:  Mongabay (May 28, 2015)
 

Corruption probe to investigate forestry officials, own staff
Forestry officials in Kampong Thom province are to be the subject of a corruption probe into alleged bribery of anti-corruption officials, according to a letter published by Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) chief Om Yentieng.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (May 11, 2015)
 
Cambodian villagers protest loss of land, livelihood to concessions
Hundreds of indigenous families in eastern Cambodia are facing difficulty securing food after losing their communally shared farmland to several companies as part of government-granted land concessions, villagers and a rights group said Tuesday.
Source: Radio Free Asia (May 12, 2015)
 
Non-timber goods touted at meeting
An environmental group has urged the government and civil society to take steps to build a sustainable green economy in the Kingdom, as rampant deforestation and resource exploitation threatens to affect the livelihoods of millions of Cambodians.
Source:  Phnom Penh Post (May 20, 2015)

People’s Republic of China

China says climate change threatens major projects
Climate change threatens some of China's most important infrastructure projects, China's top meteorologist warned in a state newspaper, adding the country's rate of warming was higher than the global average.
Source: Reuters (May 3, 2015)
 
China’s demand threatens are hardwoods in Mekong
China’s surging demand for luxury furniture and a revived cultural tradition are not only taking a toll on the forests of its Southeast Asian neighbors but also fueling a deadly crime wave across the region, according to an environmental monitoring group.
Source: The New York Times (May 13, 2015)
 
China agrees to phase out its ivory industry to combat elephant poaching
China has committed to phasing out the domestic manufacture and sale of ivory products for the first time. Conservation groups said the announcement was “the single greatest measure” in the fight to save the last African elephants from poaching.
Source: The Guardian (May 29, 2015)
 
China's agriculture sector going for bigger harvest
Food production system faces demands for quality and quantity. China has long controlled its staple grain import quota to ensure food security. But the nation's agriculture sector is welcoming high-end farming products from Europe.
Source: China Daily (May 29, 2015)
  

Coal-fired plants in Beijing on way out with new ban
Beijing will ban new coal-fired thermal power plants after the four existing ones are expected to be replaced by gas-fired plants by 2017, according to the municipal economic planner.
Source: China Daily (May 26, 2015)
 
121 waste incinerators refuse to disclose data on fly ash
A non-governmental organization (NGO) report has revealed that 121 waste incineration plants in China have refused to disclose data on their pollution emissions, especially the whereabouts of fly ash, according to caixin.com on Wednesday.
Source: Eco business (May 29, 2015)
  
Business takes up global fight against pollution, climate change
A friend of mine is moving from Bangkok to Shanghai next month. To her surprise, the company is extending her pollution compensation of 3,000 euros (Bt110,000) to cover her two-year contract.
Source: The Nation (May 26, 2015)
 
China concludes negotiations with ADB on Xinjiang projects
China's Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday it has concluded negotiations with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on projects in western border counties in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Source: Xinhua (May 27, 2015)

Lao PDR

Can we make hydropower work for all in Laos?
A decade ago, the international community came together with a commitment to help Laos - one of the world's poorest countries - develop a better kind of hydropower project, one that generates power and also helps reduce poverty and improve health and education.
Source: The Nation (May 16, 2015)
 
World Bank provides US$1.8 m towards wildlife protection
The World Bank provided grant assistance worth more than US$1.8 million (over 14 billion kip) to the Lao government in Vientiane yesterday towards the implementation of aproject to enhance the enforcement of the wildlife and aquatic law.
Source: Vientiane Times (May 11, 2015)
 
Lao authorities investigate local groups involved in illegal ivory trade
Lao police are investigating a local businessmen thought to be behind the country’s illegal ivory trade after Thai authorities seized a U.S. $6 million tusk shipment from Kenya en route to the Southeast Asian nation last month, a Lao police officer involved in the investigation said.
Source: Radio Free Asia (May 1, 2015)

FAO advises on adaptation of agriculture to climate change
An agricultural project is seeking to provide Laos with technological and knowledge capacity to develop urgently needed policies for adapting agriculture to climate change and sustain food security.
Source: Vientiane Times (May 1, 2015)

World Hydropower Congress hears Lao success story
Delegates from many countries learned about the Lao PDR's experience with developing renewable energy at the World Hydropower Congress in Beijing.
Source: Vientiane Times (May 26, 2015)

Myanmar

Ecotourism management strategy launched
Myanmar sets to expand the country's network of protected areas and aims to establish a diversity of range of quality ecotourism products and services by 2020, according to state media.
Source: Myanmar Eleven (May 25, 2015)

Environmental and social standards await final approval to move forward
A major issue surrounding project implementation in Myanmar is the way environmental and social impact assessment (EIA/SIA) reports are conducted. Without clear legislation, many investment projects struggle to complete this critical step.
Source: Myanmar Times (May 14, 2015)
 
Myanmar’s mining reforms stall, hindering foreign investment
A new mining law that would clarify rules and ease restrictions for foreign investors looking to tap into the lucrative sector remains frozen in Myanmar’s legislature, said an official from the country’s Ministry of Mines.
Source: The Wall Street Journal (May 12, 2015)
 
Public urged to help fight illegal logging
Illegal loggers armed with chainsaws are wiping out the country’s teak forests, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has warned, complaining that China, a major market for illegally exported timber, is failing to cooperate with Myanmar.
Source: Myanmar Times (May 25, 2015)
 
Myanmar's dam plans may cause new kind of poverty, villagers warn
Giant dams, mighty hydroelectric plants and mega-bucks from foreign electricity sales: that's the vision of the future touted by the government of Myanmar, as it tries to lift the country from poverty.
Source: DPA Deutsche Presse-Agentur (May 18, 2015)
 
Salween dam projects jeopardise fragile ceasefire accords
Myanmar's government calls them signposts of modernity: a string of huge dam projects along the mighty Salween River, one of Asia's last untamed waterways, needed to meet economic goals and energy demands as the country opens its doors to the outside world. 
Source: Bangkok Post (May 12, 2015)
 
Ministry warns environmentally unsound oil companies, but lets latest off the hook
The Ministry of Energy has warned oil and gas companies to own up to their responsibilities in the wake of reporting on apparently environmentally unsound practices.
Source: Myanmar Times (May 11, 2015)
 
Democratic Voice of Burma: Iconic lake on the brink of environmental collapse
Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the banks of the Taungthaman lake on two separate occasions over the past month, signalling a deeply unhealthy natural environment.
Source: Burma Net (May 13, 2015)
 
Environmental damage concerns Shan farmers
Over ten thousand Shan farmers gathered in Mong Nai Township, Southern Shan State, requesting the protection of the environment and natural resources in Shan State.
Source: Burma News International (May 11, 2015)

Thailand

D-Day in war against forest encroachers
Nationwide crackdown set to begin on June 1, Environment Minister says. Natural Resource and Environment Minister General Dapong Rattanasuwan yesterday revealed that operations against forestland encroachers nationwide would be under way from June 1.
Source: The Nation (May 21, 2015)
 
Forest reclamation plan 'major mistake'
There have been up to 44 cases of people being adversely affected in 21 provinces by the government's forest-reclamation policy, the National Human Rights Commission said yesterday - suggesting that the enforcement of the policy has spawned mistakes.
Source: The Nation (May 22, 2015)
 

Land officials 'teamed up to sell deeds'
A land encroachment investigation in Nakhon Ratchasima province has found that five state officials teamed up to issue land-rights documents for over 1,000 rai that overlapped a forest reserve, agricultural reform land and Army land and sell it to investors, an informed source at the Centre for National Anti Corruption (CNAC) said yesterday. 
Source: The Nation (May 31, 2015)
 
Time to scrutinize 'win-win' mega-dams
For those living in the bustling urban centres of Thailand, the mantra that electricity generated by distant hydropower dams in Laos and Myanmar is clean and affordable can be seductive.
Source: The Nation (May 28, 2015)

The hidden cost of Thailand's electricity
The National Energy Policy Council last week approved Thailand's new Power Development Plan (PDP 2015), which lays out Thailand's energy and investment plans for the next 21 years.
Source: Bangkok Post (May 19, 2015)

Activists take aim at coal power plants
Environmental activists kicked off a door-knocking campaign against coal-fired power plants in coastal provinces in the South yesterday.
Source: Bangkok Post (May 22, 2015)
 
Tonnes of ivory set for fiery destruction
Government officials will destroy 2.5 tonnes of confiscated ivory next month to satisfy the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
Source: Bangkok Post (May 31, 2015)
 
Residents slam gold mine over water pollution
Representatives of residents in seven central provinces yesterday filed a complaint with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) calling on the agency to probe a gold mine operation that they allege has released toxins into water sources and caused hundreds of people in Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun to get sick.
Source: The Nation (May 15, 2015)

Viet Nam

'Capitalise on natural advantages'
Successfully utilising natural capital is essential if Viet Nam wants to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Such was the takeaway of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment's three-day workshop, which began on Thursday in Ha Noi.
Source: Vietnam News (May 16, 2015)
 
Experts examine growing threat to Viet Nam's dwindling biodiversity
Viet Nam's struggle with its degrading biodiversity was the top concern expressed by experts at a meeting commemorating International Day for Biological Diversity at Botanical Garden, Ha Noi, on Friday.
Source: Vietnam News (May 25, 2015)
 
Mekong faces drought, salinity
The ongoing drought has seriously affected farms and households in the Mekong Delta, causing water shortages for thousands of families in the provinces of Kien Giang, Ca Mau, Ben Tre and Tien Giang.
Source: Vietnam News (May 18, 2015)
 
Sand miners kill protective trees
Illegal sand exploitation by villagers is destroying 300ha of casuarina forest, much of it planted under a Japanese aid programme to protect Pho An commune in the central province's Duc Pho district.
Source: Vietnam News (May 13, 2015)
 
Incidence of illegal logging increases in Lam Dong
Illegal cutting of trees increased alarmingly in the Central Highlands Lam Dong Province in the first four months of this year, a report by the provincial People's Committee said.
Source: Vietnam News (May 12, 2015)
 
State may manage VN nuclear waste
Scientists have proposed the establishment of a state company specialised in storing radioactive waste ahead of the construction of two nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan province.
Source: Vietnam News (May 23, 2015)
 
France, VN respond to climate change with $17.8m agreement
An agreement for a 20 million euro loan (US$17.8 million) to tackle climate change in Viet Nam was signed between the French and Vietnamese governments in Ha Noi yesterday.
Source: Vietnam News (May 20, 2015)
 
Project to restore Ha Giang's biodiversity by 2020
A project to plan and restore biodiversity by 2020 and create a vision for northern Ha Giang Province by 2030 has attracted the attention of experts and scientific organisations.
Source: Vietnam News (May 26, 2015)

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