Event Reports

Sustainable Management of Coastal and Land Resources in Southeast Asia

by Gisela Elsner

Legal, Social, Economic and Environmental Dimensions

An international conference on legal, social, economic and environmental issues with respect to land use in Southeast Asia took place in the Thai capital of Bangkok on November 4th and 5th 2015. The Rule of Law Programme of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation cooperated with the Thailand Research Fund, the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, and the Economy and Environment Institute of the Lower Mekong sub-region on the occasion of this conference.

The event was opened by the Thai Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Gen. Surasak Karnjanarat. During this event, 70 participants, mainly from research institutions and civil society organizations, discussed the significance of natural resources in coastal and inland regions for the global climate and their economic value. The latter includes food production and the development of prosperity as well as tourism, which is an important sector in many Southeast Asian countries.

The coastal areas in the ASEAN region stretch over approximately 173,000 km, bordering the South China Sea, Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. A large part of the population and consequently, economic activities, are concentrated here. Dependence on agriculture as an important pillar of the people’s livelihood means heavy reliance on natural resources.

In addition to being plagued regularly by natural disasters, especially typhoons and floods, countries in the region also fall victim to man-made disasters, such as oil spills and overfishing as a result of illegal fishing and mismanagement of natural resources. All of these have resulted in the degradation of land.

Experts from the various countries of the region, including the host country Thailand, China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, agreed that economic growth and environmental protection must be balanced – not least in the interest of continued growth which in turn depends on the preservation of natural resources.

In order to achieve this balance, clear and binding laws governing the environment and economic activity are essential. While such legal provisions are increasingly being enacted in the region, their consistent application by competent state authorities leaves much to be desired. In this context, the training of young lawyers and members of the judiciary in particular, with regard to more effective enforcement of environmental protection laws and thus improved legal protection of citizens regarding “green access rights”, such as access to information, access to justice and participation in environmental issues, were significant topics of discussion at this conference.

Contact Person

Markus Rosenberger

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Head of Team Latin America

Markus.Rosenberger@kas.de +49 30 26996- 3664 +49 30 26996-53664