“Cool ASEAN, Green Capitals” – Region to Tackle Climate Change
Bangkok, November 2009
ASEAN capitals and other major cities in the region are to join hands in addressing the issue of climate change and initiate activities to promote a “Cool ASEAN, Green Capitals” initiative.
Representatives from several ASEAN cities, at their first meeting in Bangkok on 2 November 2009, discussed a draft founding declaration to establish the framework of collaboration for the initiative and also identified several initial key activities.
“Cities are centres of concentration of people and economic and social activities. They are also the major sources of pollution contributing to climate change. However, they have the resources, intellectual knowledge and capacity to act and demonstrate leadership in the efforts to address climate change” said Mr Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Governor of Bangkok, who has been taking the lead to establish this initiative.
Mr Paribatra, with the support of the Secretary-General of ASEAN Dr Surin Pitsuwan, is to further consult with the Governors/Mayors of ASEAN capital/major Cities on the initiative, which is planned to be formally launched in early 2010.
“This Initiative provides a platform for city-led, people-engaged actions on climate change to green city infrastructure, amenities and services, thereby contributing to ASEAN’s efforts to cool the mounting global warming effects of climate change,” said Dr Surin, noting that about 50% of the 583 million over people of ASEAN now live in cities/urban areas, which is projected to increase to 75% by the year 2050.
Emphasising that climate change is not an end by itself, Dr Surin said that climate change provides the means to engage all parties in a holistic manner to meet the everyday needs of citizens through greener buildings/infrastructure, more green spaces, more efficient mass transportation, reduced and better waste and wastewater management, efficient use of energy and cleaner fuels including renewable energy, clean water supply etc. Actions on all these fronts contribute to cleaner air, water and land, which at the same time reduces the carbon footprint, he added.
Dr Surin also explained that ASEAN’s main goal is to be a people-centred institution, bringing the benefits of regional cooperation to the people. The ASEAN Leaders have issued several declarations emphasising the serious impact of climate change to the region and ASEAN’s commitment to proactively engage all levels of society to address this looming threat to survival, livelihood and development.
The Cool ASEAN, Green Capitals initiative has also received the support of ASEAN’s partners. “The World Bank is fully committed to assist ASEAN cities in addressing climate change, which is becoming a formidable challenge to continued progress and development” said Mr Matthew Verghis, Acting Country Director of World Bank in Thailand, at the meeting.
The World Bank could bring in its wealth of experience in mobilising concessionary funds, promoting technology transfer and designing and implementing project activities particularly in developing countries to support the regional activities of the cities in this Initiative, he said.