The Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) is bestowed with rich natural and cultural resources and is considered one of the world’s richest areas in terms of biodiversity, holding global importance. In recent years, the ecosystem health of the region has been rapidly deteriorating due to many issues, such as population growth, infrastructure expansion, and economic development. As a result, the livelihoods of the poor who are primarily dependent on ecosystem services are declining.
To address some of these issues, UNEP-IEMP implemented a basin-wide project, “South-South Capacity Building for Ecosystem Management in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region,” a UN Environment-China Trust Fund (Phase I) project under UN Environment’s Ecosystem Management of Productive Landscapes (EMPL) umbrella project. The project has introduced methods and tools for integration of ecosystem approaches into national planning; enhanced preparedness and capacity for application of ecosystem approaches in national policy-setting and planning processes in the region; and produced an assessment report on capacity needs of ecosystem management for national and sub-regional development.
An inception workshop was successfully kicked-off in 2015 in Shandong Province, China, bringing together all the key GMS stakeholders to discuss in detail on how to effectively execute the project. Furthermore, the project team successfully conducted consultative and capacity building workshops (from January to September 2016) in Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Yunnan Province of China, and Myanmar to identify and prioritize capacity gaps in ecosystem management in the sub-region. Awareness-raising activities for ecosystem services and valuation and introduction of tools and methods in local languages were also included in each workshop to strengthen ecosystem approaches in their respective planning processes.
Through these consultations with multiple stakeholders ranged from policy makers, practitioners, and local communities, the need for a regional capacity building framework in the GMS became more and more evident, highlighting the urge for transboundary cooperation in ecosystem management. These consultations culminated into a high-level consultative meeting, co-organized by the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Centre(CAEC), of senior policy/decision makers, primary stakeholders, and scientific communities which convened in Beijing in September 2016. It built consensus on a framework for regional cooperation on capacity building for ecosystem management in the GMS that is to be taken up within the framework of the newly-established Lancang-Mekong Environmental Cooperation.
Based on the success of this project, UNEP-IEMP continues its endeavours to effectively contribute to enhancing basin-wide institutional capacity for ecosystem management to integrate ecosystem approaches into national plans and regional cooperation strategies, through identifying and prioritizing capacity needs of key stakeholders of the GMS countries.