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Greening the ASEAN economic corridors: mitigating risks and securing gains for food security, environmental services and social cohesion

Project title Greening the ASEAN economic corridors: mitigating risks and securing gains for food security, environmental services and social cohesion
Implementing Institutions World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
Country(ies) Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao
Abstract This project will assess the biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Mekong region to evaluate trade-offs resulting from the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community. Understanding the challenges of climate change, land degradation and trade impacts is essential to mitigate negative impacts and ensure sustainable land use. In generating this knowledge to inform policymaking, this project aligns closely with IPBES’ first and second objectives of strengthening capacity and knowledge foundations for the science-policy interface at the regional level.
Project Description At the end of 2015, the ASEAN nations will form officially form the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), seeking to foster economic prosperity in the region through reforms opening trade, investment, and labour markets. Central to the implementation of the AEC is an extensive network of highways and railroads. However, the expansion  and construction of these transport corridors traverse through biodiversity-rich forested and agricultural lands, presenting threats to biodiversity conservation, food security and sustainability, and environmental services.  Countries vulnerable to these impacts include Myanmar, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

It is therefore essential to have environmental safeguards and restrictions as well as measures to ensure agro-biodiversity, watershed protection, and climate resilience. The AEC Blueprint does not adequately address these issues, and policy-makers are in need of alternative land-use options. This project seeks to fill this gap by assessing biodiversity hotspots, environmental services, and food and biofuel production, and evaluate the impacts and trade-offs resulting from the implementation of the AEC. This information will be used to design land-management and policy options based on regional specificity and innovative technologies. As such, the intention of this project closely aligns and contributes to IPBES’ objectives of strengthening knowledge foundations though generating understanding of biodiversity and its threats in the Mekong region, and applying this to support the science-policy interface.

Project Objectives and expected Achievables OBJECTIVES

1. Evaluate the benefits and trade-offs for biodiversity, food security, biofuel production, environmental services and social cohesion resulting from the implementation of the AEC in the mainland’s most vulnerable member states—Myanmar, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia and Vietnam—particularly in areas at high risk from targeted economic-corridor infrastructure and investments.

2. Develop practical, scaleable options for achieving multifunctional and sustainable landscapes that can be implemented in the most cost-effective and culturally appropriate manner.


1. Assessments of agri-biodiversity with respect to agri-ecological functions,  in critical landscapes affected by the economic corridors

2. Policy options for local and national governments in the Mekong sub-region for sustainable landscapes: ‘green’ economic corridors

3. Enhanced capacity of local and national governments to participate effectively in implementing the IPBES work program through participatory development of assessments, demonstration sites and policy options

4. Enhanced capacity of national governments in the Mekong sub-region, and other ASEAN member-states to carry out and use national and regional assessments through a series of seminars and workshops based on analyses and practical demonstrations

5. Enhanced capacity to locate and mobilize financial and technical resources through engagement with the project’s IPBES process, partners and donors

6. Enhanced capacity to access data, information and knowledge (including experience of others) through participatory engagement with analyses, demonstration sites, policy development and communications

Timeframe > 3 years
Geographic Scale Multinational
Seeking Resources for: Project implementation
Type of Resources/Support needed: Financial