IGES Regional Centre
Who We Are
The IGES Regional Centre – situated at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand – works on critical environmental and sustainable development issues and is the Institute’s main arm for collaborating with local and international partners in the region.
We started out in 2004 as a small desk at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) with a staff of three. Today, we have over 15 experts and staff from Australia, China, Taiwan, Denmark, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – all of whom work closely with partners and government leaders to deliver real change on the ground.
We facilitate dialogue, conduct research and share replicable practices that are useful for policymakers. We collaborate with the ASEAN Secretariat and government officials in the region; development partners, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and bilateral organisations, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.
What We Do
Our work focuses on four key areas that lie at the intersection of environment and sustainable development: climate change adaptation; climate change mitigation; environmental safeguards; and local and city initiatives.
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION
We help countries adapt to climate change. Since 2010, we serve as the main coordinating body for the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) – an expansive network of governments, regional bodies, research institutes, and NGOs that is part of UNEP’s Global Adaptation Network. We coordinate APAN’s capacity building activities and lead knowledge management services. We are currently helping to institute key adaptation training courses at the Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific at AIT and the Climate Change International Technical and Training Center (CITC) in Bangkok, Thailand.
We also work on the USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific project that assists vulnerable countries to obtain financing to address climate change impacts. We help by producing easy-to-read knowledge products that document lessons learned, facilitating online discussions, and organising regional forums on accessing climate finance in Bangkok, Thailand; Nadi, Fiji; and Siem Reap, Cambodia.
CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION
On mitigation, our work supports research and implementation of Japan’s Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) and the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) activities. These activities help speed up the spread of clean technology, products, and systems in Asia-Pacific countries. We also work closely with the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO) to survey and assess Thailand’s clean technology. In 2015, the UNFCCC established its fifth Regional Collaboration Centre in our Bangkok office to promote CDM in Asia-Pacific.
We improve environmental safeguards in the region – namely, through operating the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) to help governments in Asia better administer environmental laws and promote improved compliance. Ensuring that these laws and legal frameworks function effectively is critical to sustainable development in the region.
Established in 2005, we serve as AECEN’s secretariat since 2012 and have established numerous twinning partnerships between countries, including strengthening environmental courts and judiciary systems in Thailand and the Philippines, among other achievements.
With support from ADB, we maintain an up-to-date compendium of laws, regulations, news, documents and case studies that relate to environment impact assessments (EIA) in the region. In collaboration with Pact and the Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE), we also conducted workshops on public participation in EIA for governments and civil society organisations in the Lower Mekong region and helped establish a regional technical working group on EIA. AECEN’s partners include ADB, UNEP, USAID, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
LOCAL AND CITY INITIATIVES
We help develop low-carbon, sustainable cities in Asia. In 2011, we established a programme jointly with the ASEAN Secretariat to foster “Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC)” in ASEAN member states. The ASEAN ESC Model Cities Programme is a direct response to a call made by East Asia Summit environment ministers in 2008 to make ESC an immediate priority.
With support from the Government of Japan and other partners, we raise the capacity and visibility of 31 local governments – or what we call ‘Model Cities’ – in eight ASEAN countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.
We support these Model Cities to produce innovative, replicable practices for sustainable city development. These include systems to manage waste and wastewater that are small in scale, decentralised and affordable; and novel methods to educate citizens, especially youths, on sustainable development. Currently, we are evaluating each city’s environmental performances by using locally-defined indicators to link to the global Sustainable Development Goals, making them more relevant to local governments.
In addition, we connect these cities so that they can learn from each other, as well as from new partners, at country- and regional-level networking events. Our main event is an annual meeting of senior officials called the “High Level Seminar on ESC” in which countries report on their progress to becoming ESC to the ASEAN Working Group on ESC and East Asia Summit environment ministers.