In the last 20 years, rapid economic growth in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) has reduced poverty and brought prosperity to many of its 420 million people. Much of the growth has relied on natural resources, which generate up to half of the total wealth in some GMS countries. But the “grow-now-clean-up-later” approach has worsened environmental degradation due to air, water and soil pollution, deforestation, overuse of natural resources and production of vast quantities of waste.
All six GMS countries…have improved their management of natural resources and ecosystem services. For example, all are shifting from using fossil fuels for energy. The PRC is phasing out coal plants and generating far more energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and water than any other country. Thailand has the largest solar capacity in Southeast Asia…emerging technologies can help ensure that future growth is “green” – a win-win for the environment and the economy. These technologies are more affordable and many green policies will eventually pay for themselves. They are cleaner and help countries use natural resources, including land, water and energy, more efficiently. The result will be more sustainable infrastructure, reduced pollution and better waste management.