Members of the International Resource Panel,
Distinguished guests and colleagues,
It is a pleasure to join you here for the 30th meeting of the International Resource Panel.
It is very timely that you convene here, as our region faces serious challenges arising from resource consumption and must recommit to far greater levels of resource efficiency in our development if we are to ensure a sustainable future.
Asia and the Pacific has made great strides in recent decades to lift millions out of poverty and has seen significant economic growth.; However, much of the development across the region has been highly resource-intensive and has come at the expense of the environment.
I would like to share a few observations regarding the global implications of resource use in our region.
Firstly, the region will shape the global pathways of resource efficiency.
As you know, Asia and the Pacific consumes around 60per cent of the world’s food, energy and materials. The extraction of natural resources contributes to 40 per cent of global land-use related biodiversity loss as well as half of global water stress, far outpacing any other region in the world.
Therefore, we critically need to strengthen the science-policy interface and support member States to better manage resources. Otherwise, these negative trends will continue.
Secondly, current projections indicate that our region is not on track to achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including the environment-related ones such as responsible consumption and production (Goal 12) and climate action (Goal 13).
On climate, in particular, there is an urgent need to reverse the regressing trend. Even with the current Nationally Determined Contributions and net-zero pledges from member States, there remains a significant gap of more than 15 gigatonnes of CO2 that still needs to be reduced if we are to reach the 1.5-degree Celsius target.
The region’s climate risks are closely related to the inefficient use of resources such as water, ecosystem and land area. Continued mismanagement and overconsumption of natural resources will further exacerbate the impacts of climate change and increase vulnerabilities. .
Thirdly, Asian and Pacific cities are facing crises of air pollution stemming from inefficient systems of energy, transport and industry. These systems are also generating enormous volumes of waste, much of which is not properly managed.
Continued work to assess urban impacts and resource needs, building on the work of the International Resource Panel on resource requirements of future urbanization, is essential to foster low-carbon and resource efficient cities.
Lastly, across our region, the nexus of food systems and natural resource use has critical implications for improving food security, protecting biodiversity and mitigating climate change.
Deforestation, land use change and threats to marine environments associated with food systems are all creating greater risks to the region. This requires a better understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of the entire food system and the food value chain, from natural resources to the agricultural sector to consumer demand to food waste.
Governments across the region are aware of these diverse challenges but often struggle to unpack all the vulnerabilities they generate. Moreover, they may lack the science and evidence base to inform and develop policies that are ambitious enough to reduce risks.
The work of the IRP is critical to understanding how we can strengthen resource-efficiency and establish policy pathways that protect our rich natural resources and enable sustainable development.
I encourage the Panel to consider how regional efforts can further build this understanding, and I look forward to exploring opportunities for ESCAP to engage with the Panel as you continue your work.
I wish you successful discussions.
Thank you very much.