This article was published in Volume 1 of the Green Investment Magazine (pgs 42-46), a publication of the Green Investment, Innovation, and Productivity Program of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC/DNPI) of Indonesia. Doddy Sukadri is a member of the Indonesia National Council on Climate Change and is Co-Chair of the Asia LEDS Partnership. Sandra Khananusit serves as part of the Asia LEDS Partnership Secretariat. Click here to download a PDF version of the article.
Asia, a continent consisting of 46 countries with a population of more than 4.2 billion people, or about 60 percent of the global total,1 has experienced the fastest economic growth of any region in the world in recent decades. With the exception of several developed countries, notably Japan, Asian countries are undergoing rapid economic growth and industrialization, contributing to improved living standards and a better life for millions. About fifty percent of Asians live in cities and over the next 30 years Asian cities will grow by another 1.1 billion people.2 However, characterized by exposed land areas—such as islands, deltas, coastal regions, and steep slopes—and rapid urbanization leading to high population densities, many Asian cities and countries are now more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
In many countries substantial gaps exist between the rich and the poor, with a significant number of people still living in poverty. In addition, economic trends have led to an increased demand for electricity and transportation. As a result, air pollution is worsening and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are rising rapidly.
The Big Challenge: Closing the Emissions Gap
An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report indicated that for more than a decade, the increasing rate of CO2 released into the atmosphere has reached a point that is dangerous to both human well-being and continued economic growth.3
A continuing concern over an “emissions gap” was expressed at the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, when Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on the need for urgent action “…towards the deep reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to attain a global peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.”4
At the 2013 UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference in June, Parties continued to discuss how to close the emission gap. At the climate change workshop organized by UNFCCC, Ron Benioff, Director of the Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Global Partnership, addressed this issue with his presentation “LEDS Global Partnership: Advancing Climate-Resilient Low-Emission Development around the World”.5 He shared experiences over the past two years working with 116 countries on how LEDS could help countries decouple economic growth from emissions and resource use. He presented examples on how LEDS could be a viable path forward, supporting economic growth by creating new jobs, fostering sustainable production, and creating new green businesses, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions and reducing poverty.
Developing Asian countries face a challenge of achieving sustainable economic development and improving living standards, while simultaneously reducing the rate of growth in GHG emissions. Low-carbon, climate-resilient development, commonly described as “green growth”, is viewed as the most effective means of meeting both objectives. Low emission development strategies provide strategic planning, analytical, and policy processes to promote economic growth while achieving significant, long-term emission reductions in key sectors.
The Asia LEDS Partnership
The LEDS Global Partnership encompasses three regional platforms—in Asia, Latin America, and Africa—all of which aim to strengthen and support capacities, learning, and coordination
of LEDS and green growth activities at the country, regional, and global levels. The Asia LEDS Partnership is the largest regional platform of the LEDS Global Partnership in terms of its membership.
The Asia LEDS Partnership was launched in September 2012 at the first Asia LEDS Forum in Bangkok, Thailand, which convened more than 170 representatives from 17 Asian governments,
regional and international development organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), businesses, and others active in LEDS in Asia. At the Forum, participants helped to catalogue progress, prioritize regional needs, and identify collaborative activities to achieve a vision of Asia as a region of robust economic progress and low GHG emissions, with countries adopting and implementing LEDS and green growth practices across all sectors. Currently, representatives from over a dozen Asian countries are actively engaged, as well as numerous international partners and NGOs.
The objectives of the Asia LEDS Partnership are four-fold:
(1) to facilitate enhanced collaboration among those actively engaged in LEDS in the region, including working to maximize results while minimizing duplication;
(2) to identify and disseminate tools, models, approaches, and best practices in priority LEDS topics to enable application across the region;
(3) to foster capacity building of practitioners to make Asia a leader in designing and implementing LEDS and green growth; and
(4) to strengthen support for LEDS across Asia by catalyzing leaders of change and raising awareness about the benefits and methods of promoting LEDS.
One of the primary mechanisms to achieve these objectives is regional peer-to-peer exchange on experiences and lessons in fostering LEDS. Asian countries are implementing a wide variety of policies and initiatives that support low-emission growth, and countries are learning through doing, finding what works best in their unique circumstances and according to their specific needs. Some countries have detailed green growth strategies, while others have low-carbon city models, sector strategies, or examples of the private sector identifying innovative ways to spur climate-resilient development.
The following are examples of just a few interesting initiatives related to low-emission growth undertaken by national governments and organizations active in the Asia LEDS Partnership:
– At the national level, in Vietnam, the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy (VGGS) considers a low-carbon economy and green growth as underlying principles in achieving sustainable development, with GHG emission reduction and removal to become a mandatory index in social and economic development. The VGGS aims to accelerate the process of economic restructuring in order to use natural resources efficiently, research and apply modern technologies, develop infrastructure to improve efficiency of theeconomy, cope with climate change, contribute to poverty reduction, and drive economic growth in a sustainable manner. The strategy outlines objectives, prioritized projects to be implemented in 2011-2015, and plans for 2016-2025 as well as a vision to 2100.
– At the sub-national level, Thailand is prompting a paradigm shift within society and behavior change among its citizens towards low-carbon practices. The “Low Carbon City” initiative aims to catalyze this shift and help achieve reductions in GHG emissions. A recently piloted nine-step approach offers cities and municipalities a systematic process to assess and undertake voluntary GHG mitigation measures. Cities following this approach are well positioned to participate in the national GHG registry in development, and will continue to lead the way in the transition to a low-carbon society.
– At a sectoral level, in Nepal, the national government is supporting local governments in creating District Climate and Energy Plans (DCEP) to accelerate dissemination of renewable energy technologies. The DCEP systematically addresses opportunities where renewable energy can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and gender and social inclusion, and provides a framework for decentralized energy planning that is customized to local contexts and needs. The DCEP can also be placed within a broader framework that encapsulates local and national development plans, moving Nepal towards a lowemission, socio-economic development pathway.
Achieving Success with LEDS
High level political, cross-ministerial, and stakeholder engagement is vital. It is important to facilitate opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, knowledge-sharing, and innovation. Continuous communication of LEDS benefits to all stakeholders is needed to deepen the awareness and support of LEDS. Integration with national and sub-national development programs and climate resiliency is essential, particularly to foster learning and assistance on policy and financing strategies, as well as collaboration on common resources and services across programs.
Join Our Network
Membership in the Asia LEDS Partnership is voluntary, cost free, and open to governments, organizations, and individuals from the public, private, and non-governmental sectors active in designing, promoting, and implementing LEDS and green growth within the sub-regions of East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and the Pacific.
- To join the Asia LEDS Partnership, please visit: http://adobe.ly/11XRCPp
- To learn more about the Asia LEDS Partnership, please visit: http://AsiaLEDS.org.
- World population”, Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
“Accessing Asia: Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Road Transport and Electricity”. http://cleanairinitiative.org/portal/node/11573
Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2005.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention. Fifteenth session, part two, Doha, 27 November 2012. http://www3.unog.ch/dohaclimatechange/sites/default/files/FCCC_AWGLCA_2012_L.0004_ENG.pdf
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. Second session (ADP 2), Bonn, Germany, 29 April – 3 May 2013. Workshop on Low-emission Development Opportunities, Tuesday, 30 April, 2013. Available at http://unfccc.int/files/bodies/awg/application/
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