Capacity Building on Promoting Sustainable Development in the GMS
"The study assesses the state of sustainable development strategies (SDS) in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) – within each of the six member-countries and in the subregion as a whole – with a view towards identifying appropriate improvements that would bring about strong national SDS (NSDS) and a subregional SDS (SSDS) responsive to present and future SD challenges therein. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) defines NSDS as “a coordinated, participatory and iterative process of thoughts and action to achieve economic, environmental and social objectives in a balanced and integrated manner at the national and local levels.” NSDS thus refers to a process, and not merely a document. Formulating a NSDS need not entail producing a new plan or inventing a new process, but means transforming and adapting existing processes to become consistent with sustainable development principles. Recognizing the above, assessing “SDS readiness” of the GMS countries and of the sub-region as a group entailed a consideration of both the content of sustainable development strategies and/or related development strategies/plans, along with the institutional context within which these have been formulated. While the GMS countries had been prompt in setting up various mechanisms to address environment and sustainable development concerns especially after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the inter-sectoral nature of sustainable development challenges necessarily implies involvement of multiple ministries and agencies. A common challenge has been the need for stronger coordination, with different offices and ministries sometimes pursuing overlapping, contradictory or conflicting policies or initiatives. Weak accountability systems have also fostered incompetence and corruption in the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, lack of coherence in laws and policies governing environment and natural resources has hampered effective implementation and enforcement of regulations."