UNbacked AsiaPacific forum looks to tackle environment development challenges

The first meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development, an initiative of the Japanese Government’s Ministry of Environment, begins on Saturday in Bangkok and will be chaired by former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.The forum will also involve the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Kim Hak-Su, and leaders drawn from government, academic, legal, policy, trade and activist backgrounds across the region.Several innovative ideas are expected to emerge as the forum focuses on the key themes of trade, finance, renewable energy and freshwater and looks to identify courses of action that harness emerging technology innovations and globalization. The meeting is expected to prepare a message for the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, scheduled for August in Johannesburg, and plans to convene five more times before completing its final report in 2004.