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Spotlight on the Environment: East Asia & Pacific

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The East Asia & Pacific region is broadly on track to halve the proportion of people without access to an improved source of water and sanitation facilities by 2015. However, other environment-related concerns include high levels of carbon dioxide emissions and industrial water pollutants, and vulnerability in some countries to the adverse effects of climate change and deforestation.

The link between environment and health

Fig 2.12 - Environmental disease burden in DALY

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green arrowThis map shows the region’s burden of environment-related disease in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). One DALY = one full year of healthy life lost. This includes DALYs associated with lack of clean water and sanitation, vector-borne disease (malaria), indoor air pollution, and outdoor air pollution. 
green arrowChina’s main environmental health burden is associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution. Deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution are estimated to exceed 300,000 per year.
green arrowIn 1990, 70 percent of the region’s population did not have access to basic sanitation, and 28 percent did not have access to safe water. The region is broadly on track to meet water and sanitation targets by 2015, with 49 percent of its population now lacking access to basic sanitation and 21 percent to safe water. 
 green arrow The fastest progress in the world in improving electricity access in the last 15 years has been in China, which reached almost universal access in 2005.
Climate change and East Asia & Pacific
round bullet Some countries are very vulnerable to risks from sea level rise as a result of global warming. With a one-meter rise in sea level, and no adaptation measures, Vietnam would lose 28 percent of its wetlands and over 10% of its urban area would be affected. 
round bullet In per capita terms, the region is not as vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events as South Asia or Africa, though total damages are high. Cambodia faces a high flood risk and will need adaptive infrastructure and microinsurance.
round bullet The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have initiated a study of climate change impact in four coastal cities, including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Manila.
round bullet Weather-index insurance, now being piloted in Thailand, will go a long way to assist poor farmers.
 round bullet Being allowed to trade forest carbon credits in world carbon markets in exchange for preserving forests would benefit countries like Indonesia and help preserve rapidly diminishing forest cover. 
Environmental sustainability 
green arrowEast Asia is characterized by high saving rates, even after accounting for natural resource depletion and air pollution damages from particulate matters and CO2. High natural resource rents can often result in low level of adjusted net saving. Yet, Vietnam and Malaysia are excellent examples of extractive economies that are on a sustainable path. 
green arrowThe region’s increasing emissions of carbon dioxide are cause for concern. When emissions from land use change are included, Indonesia and Malaysia join China on the list of the world’s top 10 CO2 emitters.
 green arrow China offset 40 percent of its emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of GDP between 1994 and 1999. Between 2000 and 2004, the carbon intensity of output in China actually increased slightly. In this period, the positive impacts on energy intensity caused by continued rising efficiency across all energy sectors, has been offset by the negative impact on energy intensity caused by structural changes, particularly the extremely high growth of key energy intensive industry sectors.
green arrowChina is the world’s top emitter of industrial water pollution (as of 2001) by a wide margin, emitting 6 million kg a day, and 14 g per day per worker. 
 green arrow Increasing regional forest cover (mainly due to afforestation in China) masks Indonesia’s high deforestation rate. Indonesia lost 18,700 sq km of forest in 2000-2005.
 green arrow Water resources are abundant in some areas, but others face a critical level of water stress, such as parts of the North China Plain and North East China.
Photo credit: Holger Mette| Dreamstime.com



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