The Core Environment Program

The Greater Mekong Subregion is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, witnessing rapid economic growth over the past two decades. Much of this has been fueled by the unsustainable use of its natural resources. While this has led to increased prosperity, it has also created immense pressure on the natural environment, including its rich and unique biodiversity. 

 In 2006, the GMS countries launched the Core Environment Program (CEP)  in response to growing concern about the environmental impacts of rapid economic development. Administered by ADB and overseen by the environment ministries of the six countries which form the Working Group on Environment (WGE), CEP aims to achieve “an environmentally friendly and climate resilient GMS Program.” It is coordinated by the Environment Operations Center (EOC), which is hosted by ADB’s Thailand Resident Mission.

How we contribute

CEP introduces environmental tools and processes, builds capacity for their use, and leverages their uptake in economic development. The focus is on environmental assessments, planning, piloting innovation, and monitoring – which together are the key ingredients for sound environmental management.

Assessing environmental challenges and opportunities

Environmentally friendly development means the efficient, equitable, and sustainable management of natural resources. A prerequisite to this is knowing what resources are where, their relative value, and what is happening to them. With this information, development planners can make better informed decisions. CEP is building GMS capacity to understand pressures on natural resources. This includes valuing ecosystem services such as the provision of water and soil, and the regulation of climate; analyzing threats posed by issues like climate change; and identifying sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Promoting environmentally sustainable planning

Development in the GMS is shaped by plans at multiple levels, for example subregional tourism strategies, national socio-economic and sector plans, as well as provincial land-use plans. CEP engages with the planning processes of the GMS Program’s priority sectors – including transport, agriculture, energy, and tourism – to ensure environmental considerations are adopted. Towards this, environmental assessments are being mainstreamed in GMS sector plans and development projects.

Piloting innovation

Many conventional approaches to economic development have proven unsustainable.CEP pilots are designed to test innovative and practical ways to achieve better environmental and social outcomes. So far pilot work has centered on preventing ecosystem fragmentation through biodiversity conservation ‘corridors’ that link protected areas.These pilots place local communities at the center of conservation efforts and help strengthen local livelihoods by creating linkages to ‘green’ economic opportunities. Other pilot initiatives include low carbon freight and local level climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Environmental Monitoring

Monitoring environmental performance is essential to understanding the impact of development and to inform planning processes. CEP is supporting GMS governments to track general environmental trends and progress towards national development goals, as well as the impacts of development interventions.CEP is supporting this work through national environmental performance assessments, and by establishing platforms to ensure the latest environmental data is readily available to development planners and other stakeholders.

Operational Structure

CEP is structured around the following four components:

Component 1: Environmental Monitoring, Planning and Safeguards

Output: Environmental planning systems, methods, and safeguards improved.

Component 2: Biodiversity Landscapes and Livelihoods

Output: Management of transboundary biodiversity conservation landscapes and local livelihoods improved. 

Component 3: Climate Change

Output: Climate-resilient and low-carbon strategies developed.

Component 4: Institutions and Financing

Output: Institutions and financing for sustainable environmental management improved.

Get to the heart of our program with this 3-minutes animation.

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