From: Associated Press
Published March 29, 2005 12:00 AM

Environment Must be Taken into Account as Asia Economy Grows, Officials Say

SEOUL, South Korea — The environment can't be ignored as bustling Asian economies grow, despite concerns the issue could slow business expansion aimed at reducing poverty, officials said Tuesday at a U.N.-sponsored conference.

"Relative to its large population, the Asia-Pacific region has limited environmental carrying capacity," ministers from 52 countries said in a resolution at the end of the two-day conference in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

"The environment is already showing signs of stress from the environmental pressures arising from the fast economic growth of the region," the resolution said, calling for a shift in thinking from "growth first and clean up later" to environmentally sustainable economic growth.

Industrial production in Asia rose by almost 40 percent between 1995 and 2002, compared with the world average of 23 percent, according to a U.N. estimate. The effects on the environment from such rapid growth have put increasing pressure on developing countries to become more environmentally conscious.

But to the region, which badly needs economic growth to reduce poverty, environment protection is a relatively new concept, said Kim Hak-su, executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commissions for Asia and the Pacific.

"We cannot continue economic growth like this, or the next generation will face problems of growth and development." Kim said. "This is the beginning of this discussion."

On Monday, officials warned that new tsunami early warning systems must be accompanied by education for the public on how to respond to all natural disasters.

Source: Associated Press

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