Subregional Environmental Performance Assessment: Greater Mekong Subregion

Discussion Paper
Subregional Environmental Performance Assessment: Greater Mekong Subregion

Under ADB's TA 6069-REG: National Performance Assessment and Subregional Strategic Environment Framework for the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), a first attempt at a subregional environmental assessment was prepared towards the end of the project (ADB 2006). Under this project (referred to as SEF II), the emphasis was on national environmental performance assessment (EPA) and there was a reluctance to even attempt the same sort of assessment at the subregional level, mainly because there was no subregional environmental entity that could be held responsible for environmental performance at a supra-national level.

While up to 13 priority environmental issues were identified at the national levels, only three issues were examined at the subregional level. To supplement analysis of these issues at the subregional level, SEF II also conducted biodiversity modelling to estimate the impacts of human activities on biodiversity and formulated a GMS-wide environmental sustainability index (ESI) (ADB 2006).

UNEP RRCAP is implementing a project to support preparation of a series of national sustainable development strategies for each GMS country and a subregional sustainable development strategy (SSDS) (TEI 2007). Even without a specific institution identified as the responsible entity, it should be possible to record progress towards the subregional goals and targets. However, the lack of a plausible subregional institution to implement a SSDS and to be held accountable for environmental performance at the subregional level has been also addressed (Habito and Antonio 2007).

Under Component 3 of the Core Environment Programme (CEP), the need for a subregional environmental assessment is identified as part of the work programme. This discussion paper revisits the question of a subregional EPA in the light of this subsequent work and attempts to answer the following questions:
(i) Does it make sense to attempt a revision of the 2006 version of the subregional EPA report as part of Component 3?
(ii) If not, what steps need to be taken to make this a sensible priority work item in Phase 2 of the CEP?
(iii) What should be the respective roles of different actors in implementing these steps?

The minimal requirements for attempting a revision of the subregional EPA report are (i) a set of targets against which progress might be measured; and (ii) a subregional agency that could be held accountable for that progress. A final criterion is that despite the absence of these two factors, there is a separate educative or capacity building value to undertaking a subregional EPA, so that valuable experience can be gained. In the absence of these factors, emphasis should turn to creating the enabling conditions rather than wasting time and resources attempting another subregional EPA.


This component was completed as part of ADB RETA 6289 in a collaboration effort between Greater Mekong Subregion Environmental Operations Center: Asian Development Bank, United Nations Environment Programme and IGES.

This paper is compiled in a book titled "Environmental Performance Assessment and Sustainable Development Planning in the Greater Mekong Subregion"