IUCN Southeast Asia Programme was invited to participate in the Annual Regional Forum of Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) held on 28-30 March 2012 in Bangkok. The Forum was hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Thailand, in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), and the AECEN Secretariat.
AECEN, established in 2005 with the Secretariat currently housed at IGES, is a regional network of national public sector agencies from regional countries working to improve environmental compliance and enforcement in Asia. AECEN members include governmental agencies from: Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The main objectives of the 2012 Regional Forum were:
- Share best practices and build practitioner capacity on climate change and environmental compliance and enforcement in Asia;
- Showcase innovative environmental compliance and enforcement policies and programs in Thailand which deliver climate change benefits;
- Identify and strengthen effective strategies in national and regional replication of innovative approaches in environmental compliance and climate change in Asia; and
- Discuss a regional input to the Rio+20 event in Brazil in 2012;
Around 60 senior officials and representatives from AECEN member countries attended the Forum. There were also participants from Thailand, including officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest Department, NGOs, development partners and members from the academia. Many of AECEN Members are also Members of IUCN e.g. Ministries of Environment from Pakistan, Japan, Korea, India, and Vietnam; IGES; and Central Environmental Authority, Sri Lanka.
The forum commenced with a formal opening reception on the evening of March 28 with senior officials from Ministry of Environment and other delegates. IUCN’s ex-councillor Dr Montip Sriratana was also present there.
On Day 2, plenary presentations were held on environmental compliance and climate change, where IUCN also made a presentation. This was followed by three parallel sessions on ‘Identifying Concrete Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Mechanisms that Deliver Climate Benefits’. Day 3 concentrated on the topics for the way forward for advancing environmental governance and compliance in the Rio+20 processes and beyond. AECEN “twinning partnerships” initiatives concerning Thailand and New Zealand partnerships for river management; and Vietnam and the US partnership for dealing with soil contaminations were shared. The forum concluded with the official hand over of the Secretariat from USAID ECO-Asia to IGES.
Presentation by IUCN
IUCN was requested to give a talk on “Convention on Biological Diversity and Contribution to Broader Mitigation and Adaptation Efforts”. Ali Raza Rizvi made the presentation during the plenary session on Effective Implementation of MEAs, International Mechanisms and their Synergies with Climate Change. The linkages of CBD with climate change, its relevant decisions at various COPs, and examples of biodiversity & species' interface with climate change were presented. Suggestions to incorporate biodiversity aspects into climate change measures and IUCN’s approach of Ecosystem-based Adaptation & Mitigation were also shared. After the presentation, there was a panel discussion and a Q&A Session.
On March 28, a field trip was arranged to Muangklang Municipality which is considered to be one of the Best Practices Low Carbon Cities in the region. The mayor has won many green awards and has very effectively engaged in many environmental initiatives with community participation. The local government is working on an integrated approach for solid waste management in collaboration with IGES. The local government has also been involved in water quality improvement, river conservation & management, and promoting ecotourism. Some innovative techniques have been introduced in this connection, for example:
- In the municipal market, discarded vegetable waste is collected to produce Effective Micro organism (E.M.) concentrate. This concentrate is added into the municipal sewer to improve the water quality of the river. The residue is used to feed animals in the municipal farm. The animals and their manure are marketed.
- Along the riverside and in the city the houses and shops have been provided with grease traps. These grease traps act to reduce the organic load on the river, hence improving the river’s water quality. The grease collected in the process is transformed into fuel bars. These fuel bars are used in the municipal slaughter house and reduce the use of firewood.
The Mayor of Klaeng Municipality, Mr. Somchai Chariyacharoen, was keen to work on joint initiatives with IUCN in his area. IUCN Thailand could explore the possibilities, especially in water resource conservation and river basin management in this regard.
By Ali Raza RIZVI, Head, Regional Climate Change and Resilience Programme, Asia