by: Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
Only six years ago, in 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the world’s Governments
reaffirmed their commitment to safeguarding the environment for future generations. They did not
anticipate just how soon the situation would deteriorate. We face a daily barrage of bad news: accelerated
climate change, natural disasters, food shortages. In 2008, it is clear that our stewardship of the Earth is not
just a responsibility for the future: we have to act immediately to protect our own generation.
No country is immune. All are being forced to reassess their food, water and energy security, and to take
steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The countries of Asia and the Pacific are in the front line.
This is the world’s most populous and fastest growing region, with corresponding potential for determining
the future of global populations. It also has the majority of the world’s poorest people who depend directly
on environmental resources for their very survival.
As a result, ESCAP member States, from the least to the most developed, are engaging in serious introspection,
assessing the implications for human well-being of their current paths of economic growth and considering
how they should respond. The financial crises of 2008 and the begining of what may be a global recession
have been cited as an opportunity to rethink the way that Governments approach economic growth and