Megacities threaten key resources in SE Asia

June 11, 2002

Brussels, 10 June 2002

International scientists meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on 4 June 2002 for an international science roundtable, held during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), discussed how science can combat the impact of increasing demands on energy and resources in SE Asia.

Renewable and un-renewable resources are being exploited in SE Asia at a rate that could threaten the area's environmental and economic stability. For example, deforestation in Indonesia rose from 600 000 hectares a year in the 1980s to 1 600 000 hectares a year today. Marine resources, too, are under threat from over-fishing and the stripping of marine habitat for manufacturing processes. However, according to scientists at the WSSD, science can help in the management of these problems. Quantification of goods and environmental services that tropical forests offer is one option put forward by the scientists. They also advocate the correct marking of marine protected areas and calculating fish limits as a way of better managing SE Asia's fisheries.

Megacity mayhem

The problems are not only limited to forests or fisheries. The demands on the world's resources are increasing to support an ever-growing SE Asian urban population. By 2015, there will be 15 megacities in Asia, with a population of more than 10 million. These megacities represent an enormous environmental load in both direct and indirect consumption. But science can provide the means to understand and manage their impact on SE Asia's threatened renewable and un-renewable resources. As Dr Shobhakar Dhakal, of the Institute of Global Environmental Studies (IGES) suggests, "Improvement in technology, urban management and lifestyle changes are keys to a sustainable development in megacities. Scientific research can serve the policy-making community and will continue to be an indispensable component of sustainable development".


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