North-East Asian countries underscore importance of subregional cooperation to overcome environmental challenges

21st Senior Officials Meeting of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC)
21st Senior Officials Meeting of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC)

Representatives from North-East Asian countries reviewed subregional environmental challenges and reaffirmed the importance of furthering mutual collaboration to tackle these issues at their annual meeting in Seoul from 16 to 17 March.

The 21st Senior Officials Meeting of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC) was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) East and North-East Asia Office as the as NEASPEC Secretariat and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea. The meeting brought together delegates from the governments of China, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation, and representatives from intergovernmental and civil society organizations.

Participants commended the progress made in implementing the activities in five programme areas, including transboundary air pollution, nature conservation, marine protected areas, low carbon cities, desertification and land degradation, while noting the importance of building synergies with relevant national, subregional, and regional institutions and organizations, as well as multilateral programmes.

“Together we were successful in strengthening environmental cooperation in this subregion,” said Mr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Head of the ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office, during his opening remarks. “NEASPEC has grown to be the main subregional vehicle for member governments and other stakeholders to bring trans-national agendas of common concern, and undertake concrete actions to address them.”

Mr. Lee Taeho, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea added, “Given that today’s environmental agenda cannot be addressed by any one country alone and that many of these issues require the collective efforts of neighboring countries, the benefits that can be sought through NEASPEC also need to be pursued through cooperation among the countries concerned.”

Participants underlined the connections between NEASPEC and global goals including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. Taking into account the significance of environmental challenges faced by the subregion in each programme area, member States urged the need to closely consult with member governments and relevant mechanisms in order to take concrete actions.

The meeting concluded with new activity plans on connectivity conservation for the management of common but politically divided habitats of migratory species, along with a study and knowledge sharing on sustainable management of marine protected areas. Other plans included a peer review and comparative study on policies and practices for low carbon cities, and a subregional study on land degradation neutrality and sustainable development. Participants also decided to continue consultation on launching the North-East Asia Clean Air Partnership under NEASPEC.