Growth in Asia at high environmental cost: UN

September 19th, 2011 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) The Asia-Pacific region has seen dynamic growth in the past few decades but this development has affected the environment, leading to pollution, increased emissions and biodiversity loss, said a report released by United Nations Monday.

The report, “Resource Efficiency-Economics and Outlook for Asia and the Pacific”, prepared by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners including the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, was released in Beijing.

“Asia-Pacific’s dynamic growth of the past few decades has reduced poverty and increased wealth and per capita incomes. But that has come at a price that is exacting a high environmental cost. Problems include pollution including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, deteriorating ecosystems and rapid resource depletion,” it said.

According to the report, a new “green” industrial revolution is needed in the Asia-Pacific region that catalyzes dramatic improvements in resource efficiency if the countries and communities there are to prosper in the 21st century.

It estimates that per capita resource consumption of materials in the region, such as construction minerals and fuels, needs to be around 80 percent less than today if sustainable development is to be achieved.

Total materials consumed in 2005 alone - including biomass, fossil fuels, metals and industrial and construction materials - amounted to around 32 billion tonnes.

Asia-Pacific currently accounts for more than half of the world’s total resource use — in large part because it also accounts for over half the world’s population and nearly 30 percent of the world’s GDP.

The report underlines that Asia-Pacific has, however, enormous opportunities to dramatically boost resource efficiency and in doing so, boost economic growth, generate new kinds of clean tech industries and reduce, if not overturn, losses linked with environmental degradation.

The global economy outside Asia-Pacific has been registering efficiency gains in respect to the use of materials.

Achim Steiner, UN under secretary general and UNEP executive director, said: “These new findings come some nine months before the Rio+20 conference where the world needs to get back into the business of actioning a truly transformational sustainability agenda.”

“This new report spotlights the challenges but also the opportunities for a transition to a low carbon, far more resource efficient Green Economy not as an alternative to sustainable development but as a means of implementing it,” he said.

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