Asia Pacific Environment Ministers Commit to Tackle Shared Planetary Challenges

Environment Ministers and senior officials from Asia and the Pacific region pledged concerted action to tackle the crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution at the Fifth Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific, with the aim of restoring planetary balance and protecting people.

Representatives from 30 Member States in the Asia-Pacific region convened in-person and online for the conference, which took place in early October in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Forum was co-organized by the Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Speaking at the Forum, Ranil Wickremesinghe, President of Sri Lanka, said: “The interlinked and cascading effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution – the triple planetary crisis – are demanding a heavy toll on individuals, communities and threatening life on our planet.”

Countries across Asia and the Pacific region are bearing the impacts of a heating planet, from extreme weather events to island nations facing rising sea levels.

“We, the Pacific Island countries, face an existential threat from the growing global environmental crises. Conferences like this one offer hope that we will unite to overcome our shared crises, seeking partnerships for security, prosperity, and resource protection,” said Sitiveni Rabuka, Prime Minister of Fiji, in a video message to the Ministerial segment of the Forum.

The Forum outcomes will inform deliberations at the UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. The UN Environment Assembly will hold its sixth session at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from 26 February to 1 March 2024, under the theme “Effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.”  

As part of the Forum outcomes, Japan presented a draft resolution for the upcoming session of the UN Environment Assembly on synergistic approaches to address the triple planetary crisis and support sustainable development.

Forum host Sri Lanka presented a draft resolution on climate justice that would promote the establishment of a Climate Justice Forum and seek to increase awareness around the issue. A draft resolution concept was presented by Nepal on the Hindu Kush Himalayas, to address snow melt and environmental damage caused by climate change. Additionally, India noted that it was considering a resolution proposal on sustainable lifestyles.