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Green economy important to development: ASEF head

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Thierry Schwarz, director for Intellectual Exchange at the Asia-Europe Foundation, speaking at a conference in Singapore. May Titthara

Asian and European leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieve sustainable development goals during last month’s ninth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM Summit) in Vientiane, Laos. Thierry Schwarz, director for Intellectual Exchange at the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), talked to the Post’s May Titthara.

Can you tell me briefly about the ENVforum? What sort of work does it do?

The Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVforum) has been bringing together stakeholders from Asia and Europe since 2003 to explore new perspectives with regard to environmental changes that seriously affect today’s societies.

From the 21st to the 22nd of November, the ENVforum organised a seminar titled Sustainable Development Assessment: Towards Measurable Goals.

The seminar initiated the Post-Rio+20 discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their indicators.

The SDGs will substitute, or complement, or prolong the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015.

At the last ASEM Summit that took place in Laos in November 2012, the 49 member countries as well as the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat fully endorsed the elaboration of the SDGs and the promotion of a green economy.  

Cambodia is also one of countries in Asia-Pacific which seek to achieve MDGs, in which categories is it seeking development?

The Royal Government of Cambodia adapted the eight universally agreed Millennium Development Goals but to better suit the realities of the country. The government added de-mining and victim assistance as the ninth major development goal.

Although all MDGs will not be met by Cambodia by the end of 2015, it is regarded as one of the countries where the most dramatic progress has been recorded towards achievement of the goals.  

In Cambodia, universal primary education, reduction of child mortality, combat against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and demining are all on track to meet the 2015 deadline.

I have seen the new phrase being used very recently – ‘green economy’ – what does it mean and why is it important to Cambodia as a “less developed country”?

According to the definition given by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), a green economy is one that results from improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

The shift to a green economy can be seen as a pathway to sustainable development. 

The nature of a “green economy” sought after by a developed or developing nation can vary greatly. It depends on geographical confines, its natural resource base, its human and social capital, and its stage of economic development. 

What does not change, however, are its key tenets – of targeting improved human well-being and social equity, whilst reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

 To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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