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A third 3 8. The Gini coefficient, a common indicator of income inequality, has increased in some economies, for example, from These socioeconomic circumstances often spill over to the environment and impact on the climate, for example, land use changes, pollution and problems of fire such as when the poor uses fire as part of their land management , haze and biodiversity damage from unsustainable resource use.

The next section Section 2 will review the climate challenges of rapidly developing Southeast Asia. Section 3 will examine the state of climate change research and policy in Southeast Asia. Issues that can be addressed through appropriate urban policy, planning, design and governance will also be highlighted.

Human settlements and the pressure from human activities and economic growth have expanded with urbanization. On a local basis, these factors have the potential to increase the vulnerability of ecosystems and communities to climate change. In , more than 45 per cent of people in Southeast Asia lived in urban areas. By , this proportion is projected to increase to In some countries, for example, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, the urban proportion may rise beyond 60 per cent.

Singapore is per cent urbanized.

The Sinicization of Southeast Asia

In the process, villages have become towns and in some cases, mega-cities, 2 expanding rapidly often without proper planning. Figure 1a: Southeast Asia Urbanization : Estimates and projections. In some large cities such as Phnom Penh, Jakarta and Manila, it is not uncommon to find a quarter or more of the population living in informal settlements. In metro Manila, for instance, 61 per cent of its people are squatters.

These informal settlements are often located in unsafe areas, which generate further risks to life, health and property, leaving them vulnerable to climate change. The region faces a range of urban environmental challenges, from rapidly expanding but poorly planned cities to forest fires, polluted air and water, inadequate water supply, sanitation and energy, deficient drains and flooding fears. Southeast Asia, like the rest of developing Asia, until the recent global economic slowdown, has been rapidly expanding its economy, leading to tremendous environmental changes.

Institutional responsibilities for urban environmental management are often unclear and weak, especially over problems of cross-boundary pollution UN-HABITAT, ; von Einsiedel, Besides weak governance, other contributing factors include economic development and new lifestyles, which have seen an explosion in the demand for private cars and energy use.

Rising energy demands are currently being met by the burning of fossil fuels that pollute and generate increasing volume of greenhouse gases GHG emission. In , the greater proportion, At the same time, many people Much of Cambodia, for example, has no electricity. Blackouts are a regular feature in many of its towns. Notes:Hydro includes production from pumped storage plants. Its emission by is expected to be 4. The low per capita emission is consistent with its low per capita income level. However, the per capita emission on a regional basis masks national variation.

Two of its 11 countries, namely, Indonesia 0. The emission figure will be twice that of Japan, almost a third that of USA and a quarter that of China in Additionally, wet rice agriculture produces methane, which contributes to GHG emissions. Forest fires related to the El Nino event have released approximately 1. According to the United Nations Environment Program, these forest fires are among the most damaging in recorded history.

The loss of natural forest and tropical forest dieback will vastly increase global carbon emissions. Typically, clearance of 1 hectare of tropical forest will release about m 3 of carbon into the atmosphere Jones et al, Forests are commonly converted to cropland, paddy and pasture to respond to growing population and urbanization needs or lost through illegal logging. Indonesia, for example, has lost 60 per cent of its total forest 64 million hectares over a period of 50 years, from to , and the loss is continuing at the rate of 2 million hectares per year.

Biodiversity is under threat. Hundreds of mammal and bird species have been declared threatened UNEP, Widespread bleaching of coral reefs has been reported in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia Preston et al, Forest under legal protection is not safe; some 56 per cent of protected lowland forest in Kalimantan, Indonesia, has been wiped out in recent years, from to With few exceptions, most municipalities cannot cope with the challenges of rapid urbanization.

All the countries in Southeast Asia, except Singapore, are developing countries with little capacity to manage urbanization and climate impacts. Many are struggling to cope with the current climate-related hazards to which they are exposed, including cyclone, rainfall extremes, floods and droughts with severe damage and loss of life Table 1. Take the Nargis cyclone 2 May In Indonesia, some 75 to 80 percent of all natural disasters during the period of were linked to climatic change The Brunei Times , In addition, scientists are predicting that climate change may trigger more frequent and violent seismic activities Reuters, 17 Sep The effect of a rise in global sea level on the region may be as much as cm by and cm by Several of the Southeast Asian countries are island-states or in low-lying river deltas.

The Mekong river delta of Vietnam and many small islands in Southeast Asia are most at risk. According to the Asia Times , 26 May , Southeast Asia is possibly one of the most vulnerable areas in the global climate-change scenarios.

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Extreme climate events are expected to occur more frequently. They are particularly vulnerable to some of the worst manifestations of climate change expected in the coming decades. About 69 — 91 per cent of land area in Mekong Delta, Vietnam affected by sea-level rise during flood season Wassmann et al, Sea level rise cm : 2.

About 34, km2 of land area lost in Indonesia affecting 3.

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About 86 — per cent of land area in Mekong Delta, Vietnam affected by sea- level rise during flood season Wassmann et al, About 40, km2 of land area lost in Vietnam affecting Coastal southeastern Asia becomes suitable for malaria transmission Rogers and Randolph, Population at risk for malaria in Southeast Asia declines by 1 million van Lieshout et al, Number of people experiencing increase in water stress in Southeast Asia increases by 0 — 10 million Arnell, Vegetation biomass in southern Southeast Asia Hadley Centre, About 1.

Grants technical assistance and loans for example, GEF funds are the dominant type of project funding. Many cities in Southeast Asia, including medium-sized cities such as Penang in Malaysia now have a sustainable development initiative.


It is in developing sustainable cities. The Declaration recognizes the need to encourage the development of an ASEAN Climate Change Initiative and support the development of environmentally sustainable cities. To work closely with the international community to better understand and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, including, in particular, the related issues of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sinks;. To agree that the pursuit of climate change and energy security policies should avoid introducing barriers to trade and investment;. To intensify cooperation on the joint research, development and deployment of low emission technologies for the cleaner use of fossil fuels, recognizing that fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in our energy mix;.

To take concrete measures to promote the use of renewable and alternative energy sources such as solar, hydro, wind, tide, biomass, bio-fuels and geothermal energy, as well as, for interested parties, civilian nuclear power, while ensuring safety and safeguards that are of current international standards, and environmental sustainability throughout the full life cycle of production and use;. To improve energy efficiency in key sectors of energy use through capacity building and information sharing of best practices in managing energy use and the adoption of appropriate technologies and practices;.

To undertake effective measures towards open and competitive regional and international markets geared towards providing affordable energy at all economic levels to facilitate the adoption of energy-efficient and low-emission technologies. There are major differences within and across countries.

The countries with relatively low adaptive capacity include the poorer countries of Cambodia and Lao PDR while Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are countries with relatively high adaptive capacity Yusuf and Francisco, Capacity development is absolutely essential in bringing change to Southeast Asian cities. Improving the effectiveness and cooperation between organizations in setting priorities and developing capacity that is less donor-driven and more demand responsive is needed. The knowledge gap is real. Education on planning for climate change is urgently required.

Very few are undertaking research on sustainable urban development. Much of the existing climate research is oriented around technologies, for example, air quality, water and energy, such as fuel cells, bio-energy and bio-fuels. A focus on technology though common is too narrow for Southeast Asia. There are signs of change. In the face of rapid urbanization and global warming, the case for sustainable city research is strong and fast emerging as an important agenda.

More funding is being put into research on the environment, climate change and city including at the national level. Knowledge has become urgent as more and more Southeast Asian cities seek the development of a sustainable city for future urban living. For example, Siemens Singapore in April has set up a Siemens city of the future exhibition and solutions center to profile innovative solutions and technologies for city management of future smart, safe and mobile cities. New holistic and interdisciplinary research results on Southeast Asian sustainable urban development can be expected in the years ahead as actors get into doing the interdisciplinarity and disseminate their findings.

Singapore has started to promote climate change-related research and development after signing the Kyoto Accord in late It is master planning and developing an eco-city in China in partnership with the Chinese government. E2PO has developed a national plan to promote energy efficiency, comprising actions in several areas:.

Leadership Talent Is Scarce in Southeast Asia

Promoting the adoption of energy efficient technology and measures by addressing the market barriers to energy efficiency;. Raising awareness to reach out to the public and businesses so as to stimulate energy efficient behavior and practices;. Building capability to drive and sustain energy efficiency efforts and to develop the local knowledge base and expertise in energy management;.

Several other countries have also started to converge on renewable energy. Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have all established renewable energy strategies and targets.

The Changing Face of Insurance Distribution in Asia

Malaysia, for example, has a Five Fuel Diversification Policy since , a small renewable energy power program, Biogen program with a target of 5 per cent or mw of power capacity. Solar, wind, biomass, biogas, hydro, bio-fuels, geothermal and fuel cells are included in the Strategic Plan as well as energy efficiency Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Cagayan de Oro is greening its energy supply and making demand-side improvements with the target to reduce GHG emissions by 10 per cent against forecasted emissions growth. Although bio-fuel is often pitched as a sustainable energy source, there is concern that the rush to develop it may result in more destruction of old forests to clear the way for oil-palm plantations, contributing to the problem of slash and burn as well as resultant haze pollution in adjoining urban areas.

There is also a regional shift towards more natural gas, which is desirable in terms of its lower carbon-dioxide emissions.

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But, natural gas has its obstacles, including delays in constructing pipelines and issue with upstream production, which often releases carbon dioxide unless engineering measures are taken to re-inject the gas. But, again there are environmental concerns as to the impact of the river damming on downstream river life and communities vulnerable to drought. Vietnam, in particular, is finding this a major problem, with its exceptionally dry seasons during the past two to three years, leading to low water levels in the reservoirs behind hydro-dams and competition in supply for farmers down river for rice irrigation and for power generation.

Nuclear power has also emerged as a serious possibility in several countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Again, there are many issues here, ranging from economic feasibility to safety and weapons-proliferation concerns that require research and policy development to address.

Policies and mechanisms conducive to knowledge dissemination and technology transfer among countries including between advanced developed countries and Southeast Asia are clearly required. Many countries have begun to address climate change issues in different ministries. Some have formulated national climate change policy with measures for adaptation and mitigation see Table 3. Increasingly, environmental sustainability is mentioned in development plans. By and large, climate change is not mainstreamed in development plans.

The document still demands revision by related sectors, academics and experts. Science, Technology and Environment Agency has a key role to coordinate across all ministries and local authorities to manage the overall environment throughout Lao PDR. Pragmatic integratedtransport plans for the main urban centre and the formulation of an overall urban transport policy including the possibility of mass public transport are high priority of Lao PDR government facing rapidly increasing volumes of motorized traffic in urbancenters. Brunei has national programs include improvements of transportation infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion, cogeneration power station to reduce emissions of pollutant gases, and full use of unleaded gasoline to reduce air pollution.

Energy efficiency programs in the Philippines are directed by the Department of Energy and guided by an Energy Plan that currently covers the period from to Renewable Electricity Action Plan — A World Bank-assisted project in has demonstrated renewable energy technologies as off-grid electrification options to reduce inefficient use of fossil fuels in diesel generators in rural areas.