Ecological footprint and investment in natural capital in Asia and the Pacific

n the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), 1,200 new species have been discovered in the past 20 years, while on the island of Borneo, scientists have discovered 600 new species in that same time span. The Himalayan mountain range is another biodiversity hotspot with an incredible spectrum of flora and fauna, and the Eastern Himalayas are the source of freshwater for one billion people in the region. Despite the rich natural capital in the region, this report reveals that biodiversity is in decline in all types of ecosystems, including in forests, rivers and oceans, with the rate of species loss about twice the global average. This report provides examples of promising approaches for sustainably managing natural capital in Asia and the Pacific. These are based on experiences from a number of important regional cooperation initiatives, including the Heart of Borneo Initiative, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, the Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Program, and the Living Himalayas Framework for Cooperation. These initiatives demonstrate the commitment of the participating governments to protecting the integrity of natural ecosystems while improving livelihoods and reducing poverty. Looking forward and beyond the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, these initiative can provide valuable lessons on how we can support large scale ecosystem management in the region.