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Jakarta Post

Asia Pacific must change how it uses natural resources: Report

The Jakarta Post
Jakarta   ●   Sun, June 22, 2014

A recently released United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report says imports required to supply Asia and the Pacific with raw materials have more than doubled since 1992 and will continue to dominate material flows in the world.

Countries and businesses need to invest in resource efficiency to remain competitive and secure future prosperity.

'€œInvestment in natural capital, which many of the poorest depend and on which the region as a whole depends on for long term growth [is needed],'€ UNEP regional director and representative for Asia and the Pacific, Kaveh Zahedi, said in a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

'€œThe current inefficient patterns make the region reliant on large scale imports of fuel and materials and has led to widespread air and water pollution,'€ he went on.

The report '€” Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment in Asia and the Pacific '€” illustrates major environmental, economic, and social changes that have taken place in Asia and the Pacific since 1992, the year when countries around the world put forth their commitment to move toward sustainable development.

Growth in material use has outpaced GDP growth in the region over the last two decades, leading to an increase in the material intensity three times more than the rest of the world. The consumption of construction materials grew fastest at 176 percent, followed by metal ores and industrial materials at 130 percent, fossil fuels at 106 percent and biomass at 47 percent, the report reveals.

The region'€™s dependence on foreign resources is expected to grow and will inevitably cause vulnerability to fluctuations in international prices as countries deplete their domestic resource bases.

Such consumption has led to rapid modernization of infrastructures and cities in Asia Pacific countries where more than 1.6 billion people live.

On the other side, such an accelerated pace of urbanization and industrialization has increased pressure on the environment that may affect future growth in the region.

The report was released days before the first ever UN Environment Assembly, which is scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, from June 23 to 27. More than 18 ministers and vice ministers and representatives of more than 30 countries in Asia Pacific are expected to attend the historical event. (ebf)