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Green growth on agenda of Asia-Europe Meeting

 BY SHADA ISLAM: Brussels -- Senior European and Asian officials meet in Hanoi on October 3-4 for the Green Growth Forum, an ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) initiative to discuss moves towards a green, low-carbon economy.
The Copenhagen Accord reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2009 identified climate change as "one of the greatest challenges of our time".

ASEM leaders meeting in Brussels in October 2010 also said the shift to a low-carbon economy would help create "new markets, new investments and…new employment".

Asian and European countries may not always agree on the best way of combating climate change but both recognise that global economic growth over the last years has been achieved at a huge cost to the world's environment and ecosystem.

As such, while global GDP more than doubled between 1981 and 2005, the world's ecosystems have suffered degradation and exploitation in an unsustainable manner.

Experts warn that if current patterns of growth and development continue, there will be a serious fall-out on global security, livelihoods and well-being.

Green growth - which seeks to keep carbon emissions as low as possible to prevent further environmental damage while creating growth to raise living standards - is therefore seen as a long-term and sustainable solution to the dilemma facing both Asia and Europe.

Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner responsible for development, pointed out at an ASEM Development Conference held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last year that "green growth holds great potential for Asia and the EU – it is the only way to reduce poverty in a sustainable manner."

The United Nations Environment Programme has been coordinating a Green Economy Initiative to help governments speed up the transition to a green economy.

A green growth strategy for Asia is also being developed by the Economic and Social Committee of the Asia-Pacific while ASEAN's "Vision 2020" and "Europe 2020" also highlight strategies to achieve green growth.

In addition, the Switch-Asia programme, launched in 2007 with a 90 million euro financing by the EU over a period 2007-2010, is working to spur a systematic change towards environment and climate friendly consumption and production practices.

The meeting in Hanoi is designed to underline the urgent need to move towards green growth and exchange Asian and European views on developing green growth policies.

Potential for cooperation in research and development, sharing of information and technology will be explored.

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Shada Islam is a journalist in Brussels with a long experience of EU-Asia relations. This is a part of a series of articles being published by Ecorys Research and Consulting, as member of the COWI Consortium which is under contract to the European Commission, to look at different aspects of the multi-faceted Asia-Europe relationship. This article represents the views of the author and does not commit the European Commission in any way.