Bangladesh hotspot for Pakistani textile sector

Could be there one particular reason or multiple reasons for the Pakistani textile sector investing in Bangladesh – a country which has emerged as the second biggest exporter of apparel to the US.

The number-1 reason is the rampant shortage of electricity and industrial gas, due to which units stay shut for long hours each day, unless they have captive generation, which again is expensive.

Secondly, Bangladesh-made clothing has been given duty-free access by 37 countries, which include the member states of the European Union, Australia and Canada.

There is also a distinct possibility that Bangladeshi apparel exports to the US could receive the same treatment from its biggest garment buyer in the near future, as garments cannot avail this facility right now.

However, the current Textile Minister – Mr Makhdoom Shahabuddin has been quoted as saying “Pakistani textile industry has not shifted to Bangladesh because of electricity and gas outages.

“But, because Bangladeshi goods, mainly apparels have been provided duty-free access by a number of developed countries, due to its status as a least developed country (LDC)”.

He went to add, “40 percent of the Pakistani textile industry and over 200,000 powerlooms have shifted to Bangladesh in the last five years, creating unemployment for hundreds of thousands of workers.

To add to the woes of the Pakistani industrial sector, the garment sector too has chosen Cambodia as an alternative destination for relocating their manufacturing units.

This was revealed to fibre2fashion recently by Mr Ijaz Khokhar who is Chief Coordinator of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA), owing to continued electricity and gas supply problems in the country.

Incidentally, the Bangladeshi garment industry has proved to be crucial growth driver for the industrial sector in that country, thriving on the vast amount of cheap and unskilled labour, available.

Bangladesh has also achieved a GDP growth rate of 6.3 percent in 2011, when many countries experienced negative or sub-four percent growth rates, including the US and EU.

That apart, there are similarities in the culture of both countries as well, as both were once part of undivided India prior to 1947.

All these factors have mainly contributed, to Pakistani investments flowing in to Bangladesh.

Govt prepares draft of Ticfa deal with US

Ahead of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Bangladesh, the government has prepared the draft of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) that the two countries may sign in future.

A copy of the draft was sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a few days ago for her approval, a highly-placed source in the commerce ministry told The media yesterday.

When signed, Ticfa will offer a platform for Bangladesh and the US to discuss bilateral trade issues, including the trade barriers and opportunities and also investment in the two countries.

The Ticfa issue might come up for discussion during Hillary Clinton’s Dhaka visit on May 5, but signing of the agreement is unlikely this time, the source said, preferring anonymity.

Among other things, trade-related issues like duty-free garment export to the US might be discussed during her visit.

Hillary is coming to Bangladesh as part of her tour to different Asian countries.

This will be her first visit to Bangladesh as the secretary of state. Earlier, she came to Bangladesh in 1995 when she was the US first lady.

Ticfa came as a second effort from the US after the first effort, the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa), did not get through.

The US government has been pressing Bangladesh to sign the Tifa, but the two countries could not reach an agreement over the issue of standard of labour in industrial units.

Recently, the issue of labour was revised in consultation with the US.

But the US government later renamed it Ticfa that promises to protect investment and form a platform for dialogues to remove obstacles in bilateral trade, officials said.

Bangladesh has long been demanding duty-free access for garment products to the US market.

Ninety-seven percent Bangladeshi goods have duty-free access to the US market, but the list does not include garment, the main export item of the country.

At present, Bangladesh has to pay more than 15 percent tariff for garment products to get in the US market.

In a recent statement, US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena linked Bangladesh’s demand for duty-free access for garment exports with the Ticfa.

“Soon we hope to conclude a bilateral Ticfa, which will establish a forum that will identify and address obstacles for increased trade and investment between the two countries,” Mozena said at a discussion on the US-Bangladesh trade relations at the FBCCI office in Dhaka on April 16.

Photovoltaic Solar Energy Gains Popularity in Pabna

The demand for solar power has been increasing day by day in the district of Pabnaq following the erratic supply of electricity for a long time.

A large number of people in Iswardi upazila, of the district have set up solar power panels on the roof tops of their buildings and over business centers to get respite from the everyday load-shedding.

Besides, electricity facilities at many villages of the district is yet to be reached as the villagers have already set up solar power panels to get power at night.

Local people said, if the government takes initiatives and supports the solar power plant project under the PDB areas it could be expanded immediately.

Thousands of suffering people, both in the urban and rural areas will get respite from unusual power disruption and load-shedding.

It is to be mentioned here that a few non-government organizations including ‘Grameen Shakti’ and ‘BRAC’ have set up solar power panels in different rural areas of the district earlier, but they have been allegedly charging a huge amount of money including interest from the consumers.

Earlier, at a seminar on prospects of Renewable Energy in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Energy Advisor Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhary informed that the government is planning to undertake a project to install a 500 MW solar power plant with the financial assistance of Asian Development Board (ADB) to meet the countries growing demand of electricity.

Director of local government and rural development cell of IEDB Abdul Gofran presented the key-note paper on the topic of seminar focusing on the worsening situation of electricity in the rural areas.

Though electricity has become a basic need of modern civilization but it is yet to reach about 78 villages in Iswardi and Atghoria upazilas and vast Chalan beel areas in Pabna district. Many villages plunge into darkness due to erratic power supply for long hours of the day. Electricity consumers have been facing untold sufferings everyday due to frequent power disruption.

Production in industries is being seriously hampered due to severe power crisis in the northern region including in Pabna district. The problem has turned acute due hot spell blowing over the region for the last few days.

BANGLADESH: Warn government to stop waging war against its own people

The Honorable Hillary Clinton

Re: BANGLADESH: Warn government to stop waging war against its own people

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem News.com. I am writing to you concerning your upcoming trip to Bangladesh from May 5-7, 2012. I believe this trip is an important opportunity to raise issues such as accountability of the Law enforcement agencies, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. The United States has placed great emphasis on its deepening relationship with Bangladesh and I believe this in turn creates an opportunity and an obligation to discuss serious human rights violations continuing in the country. I urge you to emphasize good governance, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. These are essential to providing the conditions favorable to economic progress in Bangladesh.

I appreciate your attention to these important human rights concerns.

Your visit is a timely opportunity to deliver clear and unambiguous messages to senior government officials. I ask you to:
1.Urge the Bangladesh government to take all necessary measures to ensure that the military, law enforcement agencies and intelligence services abide by international human rights law.
2.Ensure that the Bangladesh government appropriately investigates and prosecutes military, law enforcement agencies and intelligence officers who had commited torture and other serious human rights violations.
3.Advocate for transparency and good governance in Bangladesh.
4.Push for accountability to ensure that those responsible for serious human rights abuses, including enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, and custodial torture are prosecuted, regardless of rank.
5.Pledge serious, high-level, and consistent diplomatic engagement by the US government to help find solutions to the ongoing political crisis where democracy is under threat in Bangladesh.

I urge you; please stop helping the killings squad Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) with technical and non-technical supports. According to the information US is supplying Browning M1911, .45ACP Caliber Semi-automatic pistol and Remington 870, 12gauge Semi-automatic shotgun to RAB. I also came to know that US officials has directly helped and trained the RAB officials in US and in Bangladesh to setup a specialized center for data mining and Telephone Interception. The same kind of help was given to DGFI by the US government. It is very alarming that both agencies are using these technologies in trapping innocent people, committed political activists, human rights defenders and journalists.

Enforced disappearance has become a matter of everyday life in Bangladesh. Mr. M Ilias Ali, a former Member of Parliament and Organising Secretary of the main opposition political party – Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and the driver of his car named Mr. Ansar, have been found missing since both of them left the former’s residence by a private car at around 9:30pm on 17 April 2012.

I have information from sources that a specialized team of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) has abducted Mr. Ali and his driver. Disappearance of Ilias Ali and Ansar is an isolated one. Mr. Chowdhury Alam, a Dhaka City Corporation Commissioner was also abducted by the same specialized unit of DGFI. It is a naked truth that the law-enforcement agencies and security forces enjoy blatant impunity for creating extreme form of fear in the society through coercive actions. And very sadly the specialized unit of DGFI who are involved in disappearance of Ilias Ali and others remain unknown to the media and people and enjoy a complete impunity.

In Bangladesh very sadly the judicial institutions are poorly structured in terms of their intellectual and moral capacities. As a result the judiciary remains silent of the issues of disappearances and others forms organized crime committed by the law enforcement agencies like RAB and special unit of DGFI.

The religious minorities in Bangladesh has targeted by the fundamentalist and politically motivated terrors. In all the cases the law enforcement agencies remain silent and helped to fuel up the situations against the religious minorities.

Please stop supporting the law enforcement agencies with any kind of technical or non technical support until they stop the war against people.

The State Department should press the government of Bangladesh to address these concerns in a serious and time-bound manner and consistently raise these matters in discussions with the Bangladesh government in the coming days.

I thank you for your attention to this important matter.
AUTHOR: William Nicholas Gomes
URL: www.williamgomes.org

Bombs explode at Secretariat :combing operation would be carried out across the country !!

Unidentified miscreants hurled two ‘bombs’ – one in front of the home ministry at Bangladesh Secretariat and the other adjacent to the boundary wall of the secretariat – Sunday afternoon, an official says.

The explosions took place during the hartal enforced by the BNP-led 18-party alliance to protest disappearance of BNP leader M Ilias Ali.

After an urgent meeting on the blasts, State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku told reporters that a combing operation would be carried out across the country to contain recurrence of such incidents.

“The bombs went off simultaneously around 4:15pm, causing panic among the officials and pedestrians there,” said Mahfuzul Haque, senior public relations officer of the home ministry.

On one was injured in the explosions.

Following the blasts, panic stricken several staff of the ministry got down from the four-story home ministry building.

The home ministry official told The Daily Star that pickets hurled the crackers from Abdul Gani Road.

The authorities called in bomb experts for examining what sort of explosives these were.

State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku told reporters that they will investigate if there were any negligence of police in guarding the Secretariat.

About D-8

D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an arrangement for development cooperation among the following countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

The establishment of D-8 was announced officially through the Istanbul Declaration of Summit of Heads of State/Government on June 15, 1997.

The objectives of D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation are to improve member states’ position in the global economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, enhance participation in decision-making at international level, and improve standards of living.

D-8 is a global arrangement rather than a regional one, as the composition of its members reflects. Organization for Economic Cooperation (D-8) is a forum with no adverse impact on bilateral and multi-lateral commitments of the member countries, emanating from their membership to other international or regional organizations.

Dr. Widi Agoes Pratikto from Indonesia is currently the rotating Secretary General of the D-8 Organization with its Secretariat based in Istanbul-Turkey.

Brief History of D-8 Establishment

The idea of cooperation among major Muslim developing countries was mooted by Dr. Necmettin Erbakan, the then Prime Minister of Turkey, during a Seminar on “Cooperation in Development” which was held in Istanbul in October 1996. The group envisioned cooperation among countries stretching from South East Asia to Africa. Representatives from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Pakistan attended the Seminar. This conference was the first step towards the establishment of D-8 and it was only after a series of preparatory meetings that D-8 was set up officially and began its activities with the Istanbul Declaration issued at the end of the summit of Heads of State and Government held in Istanbul on June 15, 1997

Purposes & Objectives

According to the first Summit Declaration (Istanbul, 1997), the main objective of D-8 is declared to be socio-economic development in accordance with following principles:

Peace instead of conflict, dialogue instead of confrontation, cooperation instead of exploitation, justice instead of double-standard, equality instead of discrimination, democracy instead of oppression.

Thus D-8 objectives are to improve developing countries’ positions in the world economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, enhance participation in decision-making at the international level, and provide better standard of living.

By the same token, D-8 is a forum with no adverse impact on bilateral and multi-lateral commitments of the member countries, emanating from their membership to other regional or international organizations.

The following three phrases are quotations from the D-8 fifth Summit Declaration (Bali, 2006) which illustrates some application of the principle objectives:

“We commit ourselves to work together to solve the problem of economic disparities within our countries.”
“We reaffirm our commitment to enhance cooperation in the field of energy to develop alternative and renewable energy resources.”
“We emphasize the importance of D-8 in contributing to the economic development of its member countries and ensure that it promotes global trade.”

Dipu Moni flies to receive the prestigious Mother Teresa award

Foreign minister Dipu Moni has left for Kolkata on Sunday to receive the prestigious Mother Teresa award.

“She left in a Biman flight at 11:00 in the morning,” public relations officer of the foreign ministry Monirul Islam Kabir told media

Dipu Moni has been nominated for the award for ‘social work and administration’.

The Bangladesh foreign minister does not have any scheduled meeting with the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. However, foreign ministry sources do not reject the possibility of a unscheduled meeting between the two.

Bangladesh and India failed to strike an interim water sharing deal for the Teesta River during Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit last year due to Mamata Banerjee’s ‘strong reservation’.

Golden Bangladesh hinges on youth: US Ambassador Dan Mozena

Brighter days beckon Bangladesh and the youth should realise that potential, US Ambassador Dan Mozena said yesterday.

“The dream of Golden Bangladesh can be a reality within a decade or two,” Mozena told a gathering of several hundred young people.

The US envoy spoke at the concluding session of the three-day Youth Leadership Summit organised by Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre (BYLC). Some 450 delegates from all over the country joined the event.

The envoy said building Bangladesh up into a middle-income country with an improved quality of life for its people will not be easy.

“The Golden Bangladesh will not just happen like that. People will have to make it happen. Those people are you,” he told the youths at Bashundhara Convention Centre.

Mozena said Bangladesh is truly a blessed country. “It has a unifying culture, language and spirit,” he said, praising energy, creativity and resilience of Bangladeshis.

He said Bangladesh’s soil is rich and productive and it has ample water and abundant natural resources, Mozena said.

“The private sector and the entrepreneurial spirit thrive,” he said and expected that Bangladesh should be the world’s largest readymade garment and home textile exporter.

He also hoped Bangladesh should be a major global player in building freighters, in information technology, pharmaceuticals, finished leather goods, seafood and in finding new uses for jute.

The youths are the future and the leaders of Bangladesh, he added.

“America will be your partner in this task,” he told the youths who were mostly university students. “The new challenging Bangladesh, the Golden Bangladesh, awaits your renaissance. The time is now,” he said.

Mozena said the US will open its Edward M Kennedy Center for public services and arts in collaboration with the Liberation War Museum.

Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, Cofounder and Principal of Cambridge Leadership Associates Marty Linsky and Founder and President of BYLC Ejaj Ahmad also spoke.

HILLARY CLINTON
The visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early next week will deepen bilateral ties between Bangladesh and the USA, Mozena said.

OMBUSMAN is Time Demand !!-

Democracy is preferred to any other system of Governance because of it adherence to “rule of Law” “Fair dealing” and “ Good Administrator . It is opposed to arbitrariness ,Unreasonableness ,and mala fide exercise of power . Democracy is the cherished form of Government as it limits Government within the framework of law and aurguments the rights and liberties of citizens to the extend where individuals can florish to their potentials.
Democratic Government by itself does not Gurantee Good Governance ,Unless it ensures accountability to and transparency for their action and policies to the people at large .

In last two three decade we have seen and it running the failure of our Democratic System !

So We Need OMBUDSMAN !!
What is OMBUDSMAN SYSTEM ??
An ombudsman (conventional English plural: ombudsmen) is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between either the state (or elements of it) or an organization, and some internal or external constituency, while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests. An indigenous Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish term, Ombudsman is etymologically rooted in the Old Norse word umboðsmaðr, essentially meaning “representative”. In its most frequent modern usage, an ombudsman is an official, usually appointed by the government or by parliament but with a significant degree of independence, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individuals. Modern variations of this term include “ombud”, “ombuds”, “ombudsperson”, or “ombudswoman”.
In some countries an Inspector General, Citizen Advocate or other official may have duties similar to those of a national ombudsman, and may also be appointed by the legislature. Below the national level an ombudsman may be appointed by a state, local or municipal government, and unofficial ombudsmen may be appointed by, or even work for, a corporation such as a utility supplier or a newspaper, for an NGO, or for a professional regulatory body.

Know more in detail >>>>

Service to people is our only goal: BD Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina .

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said her government came to power not to enjoy the benefits of power but serve the people to achieve the objective of the war of liberation for making the country self-reliant economically.
“We are moving forward keeping the ideology of Bangabandhu as our guideline to make Bangladesh a secular, developed and peaceful state in South Asia where every people will be able to enjoy their basic rights,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing a rousing civic reception accorded to her by National Civic Reception Committee for her role in Bangladesh’s victory in a legal fight with Myanmar over maritime boundary dispute last month.
“Some people come to power to enjoy the comfort of power. But we come to power as an opportunity to serve them,” she said adding her government from the very beginning of its tenure is making relentless efforts with the basic objective of materializing the dreams of the Father of the Nation and martyrs of independence.
She said, Bangladesh’s success in securing its maritime boundary with Myanmar would open up a new gate of prospect for country’s economy safeguarding the rights of next generations for unhindered exploration of sea resources.
Chairman of the Civic Reception Committee, noted
educationist Professor Zillur Rahman Siddiqui presided over the
reception arranged at South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban here this afternoon.
Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, co-chairman of the civic
reception committee Dr Qazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmed, Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University AAMS Arefin Siddiqui, celebrity artist Quiyum Chowdhury and National Professor AR Khan, spoke, among others, on the occasion.
Extending her gratitude to the people of Bangladesh for giving vote to her party in 2008 general election, the Prime Minister said their overwhelming support could help her render the dedicated service for the nation.
“If you keep confidence in us and elect us again in 2014
election, her government would try its best to secure a win in a similar legal battle with India on maritime boundary”, she said.

Forests are vital for maintaining the earth’s ecological balance:Tree plantation needed.

Tree plantation necessary to face climate change.Forests are vital for maintaining the earth’s ecological balance. They form an integral component of the biosphere, essential for the stabilization of the global climate and management of the land and water. Forests shelter countless species, including organisms that are useful in pollinating crops and controlling disease-carrying pests. Forest trees also help increase the ability of soil to absorb rain water and check desertification.
Environmental pollution and depleting of natural resource occur in our country due to poverty, over-population and lack of awareness. It is manifested by deforestation, destruction of wetlands, depletion of soil nutrients, etc. Natural calamities like floods, cyclones and tidal bores further inflict severe socio-economic and environmental damage.
Recently, many climate experts discourse that we are two decades late in undertaking remedies to counter the adverse effects of global climate change although remedies were at hand over the last 20 years. It hardly needs reemphasizing that the security will be greatly impaired by the degradation of the state of our environment and of our economy because of the effect of climate brought about by global warming. Like it or not, climate change is a reality. But its harmful impact can and must be attenuated. However, the most unfortunate aspect of it is that it is not countries that are responsible for causing global warming that will bear the brunt of consequences of its aftermath. It is the poorer countries that are at the receiving end of the deleterious effects that will accrete over time. And it is the poorer in the poorer countries that will have to bear the heavy cost if steps are not initiated immediately. And if one were to go by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions which experts say are the best guide to future shape of the global environment, things are going to get worse since we can expect, with things as they are, a temperature rise of between two and four and half degree Celsius. Therefore, the time to act is now.
Nowadays for our country it is very bad news since land and agriculture, on which the majority of our people subsist, will be the worst affected not to speak of the large areas of forest that stands the risk of decimation coupled with declining availability of fresh water. The time to act is now and we are heartened by the government’s focus on the indigents by its recently initiated project on “Community-based adaptation to climate change through coastal forestation with tree plantation”. It hardly needs to be said also that while the worst affected countries must formulate environment friendly development plans, the cost of ameliorating the consequences of global warming is indeed very high for the poorer countries to bear by themselves; that are primarily responsible for the current state of global environment.
On the other hand, our rain forests range across the rim of our country with a patch roughly in the centre. Each zone has its own particular problem. Forest experts may be necessary to help deal with complicated attacking sundari trees in the Sundarbans. No cure has yet been found to save a tree once the disease has not taken hold, nor has its spread been arrested. Increased salinity is a prime suspect for ailment but it has not as yet been substantiated officially. Besides, organized gangs are very frequently engaged in cutting down trees and carting them away. If no strict guideline is maintained, deforestation will certainly not decelerate. The government must see to it that the administration concerned employs dedicated workers.
At present our government is committed to protecting the environment for the wellbeing of the current and future generations. So, our government has attached due importance to increasing the forestry resources and ensuring their proper management for environmental conservation. With a growth rate of 5% the contribution of forest resources to GDP and the agriculture sector are 1.86% and 10% respectively. Afforestation is undertaken as a social investment to generate employment and help maintain environmental balance. The total forest area of the country is 2.5 million hectare, which is 17% of the total land area of Bangladesh. Within that forest land, trees exist in only 45% area. A national policy has been adopted for conservation of trees and forest environment. Apart from afforestation, programmes include planting trees on fallow lands, alongside roads and rail lines, on flood protection embankments, the coastal belt and educational institutions, and encouraging home forestry and social forestry.
In recent years, the government has taken some important steps toward environmentally sound use of natural resources and pollution control. Adoption of National Environment Policy and formulation of National Conservation Strategy and the National Environment Management Action Plan comprise measures undertaken by the government to integrate environment with development in a policy framework. To take prompt legal actions against environment pollution, the government has recently set up Environment Courts. The Environment Conservation Rules has also been passed by the Parliament. The Department of Environment is taking measures to carry out surveys on identification and control of polluting industries, river pollution and automobile pollution. All strategies are also being devised for protecting the country’s bio-diversity.
Finally, the government will need to take prompt legal action against those engaged in looting our forest resources. We fervently appeal that once legal procedures are begun they need to be conducted with determination. And influence from vested quarters cannot be entertained, that is, if we want to save our forests, which are vital for our country’s ecology and also play a vital role on our climate and contribute to face global warming. Trees keep the soil strong. Trees save us from flood and many other natural calamities. So, community based adaptation to climate change through coastal forestation or tree plantation plays an important role in our economic development and environmental balance. Finally we want to “save Tree Save Life’.

The United Nations Calls for a New Asia-Pacific Energy Compact

“Connecting the dots between the challenges of water, food, and energy security lies at the heart of sustainable development—and Rio+20 will be a generational opportunity for us to turn ideas into action—globally and especially in Asia and the Pacific.” — Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations.
The top UN Asia-Pacific official urged policymakers in the region to create a new “energy compact” to ensure the achievement of both economic growth and sustainable development.
Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), made the call during a lecture she delivered as part of the Distinguished Speaker Programme organized by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) in Singapore on April 25.
It is also part of the UN’s larger initiative, as the UN General Assembly declared 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. And to mark the year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Ban’s ambitious, yet entirely achievable project has three objectives: 1) ensure universal access to modern energy services; 2) double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and 3) double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.[2]
ASIA-PACIFIC ENERGY COMPACT: A GAME-CHANGER
And while Ban’s initiative is global in scope, the Asia-Pacific region is critical to making it a success. With seven of the world’s ten most populous countries—China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Russian Federation and Japan—the region is home to more than 60 per cent of the world’s population, with 4.1 billion people. That’s a lot of carbon footprints.[3]
Heyzer said, “We need a new Asian energy compact—a game-changer—to ensure universal access to modern energy sources, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, significantly improve energy efficiency, and more than double the share of renewables in the Asian energy mix by 2030.”[4]
Describing the economy of the Asia-Pacific region as “an engine of growth,” she also warned that “to keep it running we need cleaner, more sustainable, more accessible energy.”[5]
UNESCAP: STRENGTH IN NUMBERS, WITH CHINA LEADING THE GREEN CHARGE
The ESCAP has 53 member states and reports to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). But it’s not solely a regional group. In addition to nations in Asia and the Pacific, it includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. Certainly, some knowlegde sharing from the West could come in handy.
But to be sure, sustainable solutions also abound within the region’s borders. China, in particular, is a powerhouse in terms of sustainable energy investment, taking over the top spot in terms of total clean energy finance and investment in 2009, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts report, “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? Growth, Competition and Opportunity in the World’s Largest Economies.”[6]
Thanks to ambitious targets for wind, solar and biomass, the world’s most populous country can lay claim to the title of “world’s greenest nation,” with nearly $35 billion invested in clean energy. According to the Pew report, The United States fell from first to fifth, spending a mere $18.6 billion—less than Turkey, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Italy.
ABLE TO LEAP GREEN BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND: THE ASIAN-PACIFIC LEAPFROG
“Providing sustainable energy to all offers benefits for developed and developing countries alike,” said Heyzer. It can enable countries to leapfrog the outdated energy systems of the past—to build the resilient, competitive, clean energy economies of the shared future we want.”[7] She also announced that ESCAP will host an energy forum for the Asia-Pacific region in Vladivostok in May 2013.
Sooner on the horizon is the 3rd Annual GreenTech Asia Conference, the leading online platform for the Asia-Pacific sustainable business community, to be held May 23-24 in Kuala Lumpur.[8] The focus of the conference will be on green building technologies, a theme that will hopefully become a trend, as more people move into cities.
By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will be urban dwellers, with most growth happening in less developed countries.[9] By 2025, seven of the world’s top ten megacities will be in Asia: Tokyo, Dehli, Mumbai, Dhaka, Calcutta, Shanghai and Karachi.[10]
If the world is to achieve a sustainable future, the time to start planning for megacities that are green is now (actually, more like yesterday). As Confucius once said, “If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.”