Adopted from the Asia Pacific Youth Position Paper towards Rio + 20, Kathmandu Nepal (12 August 2011)
The Asia Pacific region is more vulnerable towards the impact of climate change; therefore, urgent adaptations and actions to protect the environment have become an utmost priority. Youth of today should own the responsibility and promote the concept of green economy to tackle the issues of the region. Poverty eradication and environment conservation are the ingredients of Green Economy.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “Greening the economy refers to the process of reconfiguring businesses and infrastructure to deliver better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions, extracting and using less natural resources, creating less waste and reducing social disparities.”
A question always arises who has the ownership right of ecosystem services? Neither the government nor the rich has complete right, the major possession of natural resources lies with the local communities including the vulnerable and marginalized inhabiting in the mountains and remote areas, actually deserve to benefit from the ecosystem services, both tangible and non-tangible benefits. As per the Polluter Pays Principle “Polluter has to pay for the damages caused by him/her to the environment and not the ignorant.” Mankind enjoying the luxury of nature in several forms of services has been posing great threat to the environment and never realized the extinction of species, disappearance of resources and is presently responsible for climate change. Green economy is the best solution to food crisis and so to alleviate poverty. Green economy is the stair-case to achieve sustainable development.
According to the User Pays Principle “one has to pay for deriving benefits from the ecosystem, it may be the government, private sector, public or any other stakeholder”. Earth is not the premise to dump all the waste and extract all the resources, this way we are ruining our own future leading to low GDP resulting into low economy growth.
Green economy aims to profit the people and the planet. It acts as a fulcrum to maintain a balance between the sustainable development of mankind and GDP growth. Due to expanse of urbanization the demand and supply curve of availability of resources has shown an abnormal growth, with more demand of resources (natural and manmade) and less availability with increasing span of time.
Green economy is the best option to bridge the gap between scarcity of resources and growth and thus eliminating social inequity.
Poverty: Barring a few outliers, the Asia Pacific region has seen a significant amount of economic growth in the recent past. However, there still exists a wide divide between poor and rich and social inequity which hampers the overall development of the nations.
Climate change and natural disasters: Changing climate is exacerbating the pressure on natural resources and the region is witnessing its impact in the form of glacier melting, floods, droughts, sea-level rise, loss of biodiversity etc.
Over exploitation of natural resources: To accelerate the development, people are exploiting the natural resources in an unsustainable manner, which is having multiple impacts like environmental pollution, degradation of ecosystems setting.
Unsustainable production and poor waste management: Production of non - biodegradable products, usage of unsustainable processes and poor handling of waste poses threat to the environment.
Lack of access to clean and renewable energy technologies: Access to a reliable and adequate source of energy is inextricably linked to sustained progress and growth. However, the most common source of energy production in the region is biomass, fossil fuel burning which poses considerable risks to the environment in the short and long-term. Despite of availability of renewable resources, lack of technology has compelled people to use the resources in unsustainable ways. There needs to be strong mechanism to promote renewable energy like hydropower and other alternative energy resources.
Unsustainable urban development: More Asia Pacific cities have become the focal points as major producers, consumers and distributors of goods and services. However, many cities tend to lack sustainable services such as water, air and transport systems. Migrations levels are high in cities, creating more slums, increasing pressure on limited resources and increasing pollution.
Inefficient governance and political instability: There is lack of good institutional framework in the Asia Pacific. The current governance system is a centralized system with topdown approach. Voice of community and other vibrant groups including youth is generally not audible to decision makers to make strategic policies as per the need of the community.
Lack of priority given to research and development: Asia Pacific region is more vulnerable to climate change impacts, but the development activities have been practicing without basic findings of research. For example, the Himalayan region was presented as data lacking are (white spot) by 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC.
Quality of Life: Currently, happiness, mindfulness and wellbeing of society that reflects the true quality of life is not taken into account.
Lack of evaluation of ecosystem services: Ecosystem provides number of services with tangible and intangible benefits. Mountain ecosystems are sources of exhaustive number of services, which are not valued by consumers and providers.
Low literacy level: Marginalized communities do not have access to the basic education and those getting are generally ignorant of the environmental issues because of the curriculum. Brain drain is another issue which is hampering the development in the region.
Unemployment and lack of opportunities: People are not getting enough opportunities to get jobs and vocational trainings or skill development opportunities.
Food security in the HKH region: Majority of the HKH communities are highly dependent on livestock and rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods and due to changing hydrological
regimes they are highly vulnerable.
Gender issues: Women are worst hit as men have to migrate out for work due to scarcity of resources in the mountain region.
Melting of glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) range: Melting of glaciers has contributed faster to sea-level rise in the last 350 years. It also contributes to catastrophic floods known as glacial lake outburst (GLOFs) causing heavy loss of life and property.
Health issues: Due to less accessibility to resources, infrastructure and other health facilities the mountain communities are likely to be vulnerable to various diseases.
• Government, industries and people are the stakeholders of any system that has to work in a team to promote green economy.
• Existing policies and programmes should be properly implemented with continuous monitoring and evaluation mechanism. Government should further carry out SWOT Analysis to assess the gaps and missing links of the present policy reforms. Sustainable Development strategies need to be prioritized and mainstreamed in the government policy framework to strengthen existing environmental laws and policies such as Air Act, Water Act, Forest Conservation Act, CBD, Waste management act, Act to safeguard the rights of local communities, Costal Zone Regulation Act and implement new acts to ensure green growth of the economy.
• Government should provide several carbon market mechanisms such as Payment for Ecosystem Services, REDD, REDD+, etc to create green jobs for the unemployed and marginalized communities inhabiting the mountain regions.
• Further assessments such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Mountain Risk Engineering, Tourism Impact Assessment is recommended to restore and increase the resilience of the mountainous regions in the HKH region and to reduce the vulnerability of the communities therein.
• There is need for a monitoring, and verification system to indicate and measure sustainability with respect to the GDP of the economy.
• Industries need to use clean and green technologies to increases their carbon credits and decrease their emissions to provide increasing employment opportunities through green jobs.
• Life-cycle analysis should be mandatory for every industrial product. Implementation of 5Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, residual management) is another tool for waste management. Cradle to grave approach should be adopted.
• Techniques like organic farming should be used to ensure healthy and productive agriculture to address issues of food security and also micro financing should be introduced for the welfare of local people.
• Trainings and workshops to be conducted for local people, tourists and corporate is further recommended to aware them of the guidelines as well as their individual responsibilities to protect the environment.
• Youth involvement needs to be initiated in the policy formulation processes to get better policy reforms what impacts the youth in future.
• There is a need to establish a youth network to share the problems and good practices.
• Regional and global cooperation is needed for knowledge and technology transfer taking into consideration the intellectual property rights.
• Establishing indicators to check country development need to be incorporated such as Genuine Progress Index and Gross National Happiness (GNH).
• Entrepreneurship and skill development of the local community should be promoted to build the capacity of local communities.
• Seed funding should be made available to carry out R&D activities for developing low carbon technologies and in turn generating more green jobs.