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Connections E-Newsletter Issue 21, November - December 2015 View this email in your browser
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Director's Message 
 

Greetings!


As we are getting ready to welcome 2016 and busy with family and friends during this holiday season, let me on behalf of our entire staff wish each and every one of you all happiness and best wishes for the next year. Coming to the end of 2015 also means coming to the end of our biennial work programme that kept us very busy in the waning months of the year. First of all, together with ESCAP’s Social Development Division, our Office launched a global research network and hosted practitioners from North-East Asian countries on population ageing in early November. This network of gerontology scholars and policy experts met on 6 - 7 November in Tokyo and were encouraged to identify gaps between policies and programmes for older persons in North-East Asian countries, where population ageing is taking place at the fastest pace in history. Furthermore, they discussed areas of future research required within the framework of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA). 

In December, our NEASPEC partnered with a number of entities like the UN HABITAT and the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS) to jointly host the first International Conference for National Urban Policy. At the conference, the ENEA Office hosted a session on North-East Asia Low Carbon City Platform (NEA-LCCP). The session was attended by international organizations, city representatives and scholars and experts from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, and participants had a chance to review progress made and identify potential activities for NEA-LCCP on low carbon cities in North-East Asia.
 
Also in December, the ENEA Office and the foreign ministry of ROK hosted the 3rd Northeast Asia Energy Security Forum to examine the changing context for energy security in the region. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change this month, there is a greater push for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation, which is closely linked to the production and use of energy. In particular, the forum reviewed proposals from China, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation on constructing an energy grid across North-East Asia and utilizing the vast non-fossil fuel resources available in Mongolia and Russia. We expect to see significant progress on the issue of clean, reliable and sustainable energy for all North-East Asian countries in the near future. 

We were able to end the year 2015 on a high note with a delightful gathering of staff and colleagues from the UN offices and international organizations including the Green Climate Fund and the World Bank located in Incheon, Republic of Korea on 16 December 2015. Our colleagues from other offices and officials from the city of Incheon were able to meet together and review the highs and recommit ourselves to even more meaningful outcomes in 2016. 

Stay tuned for more exciting news from our office in the next edition. Thank you as always for your continued support and interest, and I wish you all happy holidays and all the best for 2016. 

 
Kilaparti Ramakrishna
Director, ENEA Office
 
Activities
 
Subregional Forum on sharing knowledge and experiences towards sustainable ageing societies in North-East Asia
6 - 7 November 2015, Tokyo, Japan


Leading scholars from North-East Asian countries, where almost one-third of the world’s older population live, in November initiated dialogue at the subregional level on how to address socio-economic challenges that come with rapid population ageing.
 
The North-East Asian Forum on Population Ageing, a network of experts doing research on better policymaking related to population ageing, was newly launched under the leadership of UNESCAP and its East and North-East Asia (ENEA) Office. And its inaugural meeting was held from 6 to 7 November in Tokyo, stimulating discussions on how to create vibrant, sustainable ageing societies.
 
 “Countries in North-East Asia are facing common, urgent challenges related to rapid population ageing, and a meeting such as this one presents a great opportunity for us to address them through collaboration,” said Professor Du Peng, Vice President of China Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, who chaired a session on how to ensure older persons’ access to a full range of health-care services in community settings.

To address the common, urgent challenges North-East Asia is faced with due to rapid population ageing, thinking outside the box and building new networks and non-traditional collaboration among all stakeholders is desperately needed. Keeping this in mind, the experts agreed to launch a research project, focusing on the issue of providing the elderly with long-term care, which includes medical care and support for their daily living. ESCAP says the research findings can feed into the upcoming regional review process for the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), which is a comprehensive policy guideline for ageing societies across the world.

While population ageing itself is not a problem, many problems are sure to ensue if the social and economic systems of countries fail to cater to the needs of older persons and leverage their capabilities and contributions. And North-East Asian countries are already seeing a number of issues on the rise.
 
In the Republic of Korea, for instance, nearly half of the nation’s elderly live in poverty according to data released in 2011, defined as earning 50 percent or less of the median household income. This is the highest rate among the OECD countries, and reports have cited that the economic woes are the main reason behind the high suicide rates among the country’s elderly. 
 
China will see an exponential increase in the number of older persons – from the current 130 million to nearly 300 million in 2035 - which calls for social security coverage for both urban and rural population but also for the “floating population” or the domestic migrants.
 
Moreover, more than a quarter of Japan’s population in 2015 is made up of those 65 years old and above, making Japan the most aged country in the world. Its social security system was furbished in the 1970s and the 80s, and further revisions are needed to ensure financial sustainability to accommodate the growing elderly population.

North-East Asia is the fastest ageing subregion in the world. And ESCAP says the knowledge shared among this network of experts on how to address socio-economic issues related to ageing will prove useful to other countries in Asia-Pacific, which will encounter similar issues later on. 

 
North-East Asia Low Carbon City Platform (NEA-LCCP) Session, International Conference for National Urban Policy (NUP) 
14 - 15 November 2015, Incheon, Republic of Korea 


The ENEA Office, serving as the secretariat of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC), delivered a session on North-East Asia Low Carbon City Platform (NEA-LCCP) on 15 December 2015 in Incheon during the International Conference for National Urban Policy. The Conference was jointly organized by UN HABITAT, the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS) and others.

Cities are the world’s greatest producer of GDP and at the same time the world’s greatest polluter: they now emit more than 70% of global energy-related greenhouse gases and in 2015 they produced around 85% of global GDP. North-East Asian countries have 8 of the world’s top 30 urban agglomerations with a growing urban population expected to reach over 70% of their overall population by the next decade.  For these reasons, the subregion has a critical role in ensuring global sustainability by adopting a low carbon city (LCC) approach. The world is committed than ever to help rapidly growing cities plan for smart, sustainable, green and inclusive growth.

In this context, the NEA-LCCP aims to bring together specialized agencies working on low carbon cities to share information and knowledge generated by these agencies and to provide collective support to cities for their specific needs. The NEA-LCCP Session gathered international organizations including ICLEI, OECD and the Climate Group, alongside academia, city representatives and experts from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, to review the current works of low carbon cities in North-East Asia and discuss potential activities of NEA-LCCP. Specifically, the Session highlighted the need for further collaboration among existing networks and agencies and greater support for more coordinated efforts. Moreover, participants called for sharing of resources including LCC experts to support national and sub-national stakeholders and greater investment in capacity building of city officials.
 
 
Third Northeast Asia Energy Security Forum
17 December 2015, Seoul, Republic of Korea 
The maps above present different grid connection proposals but they serve the same goal of energy interconnection and cooperation in North-East Asia. 

Under the theme of “Sustainable energy, energy interconnection and regional energy cooperation”, the ENEA Office and the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-hosted the 3rd Northeast Asia Energy Security Forum on 17 December 2015 in Seoul. The Forum focused on reviewing the changing context for energy security in the region in connection to changing global and regional energy market conditions and the need for mitigation of greenhouse gases following the adoption of Paris Agreement on climate change earlier this month. The Forum reviewed various proposals from China, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation on constructing a grid connection across North-East Asia. The proposals mostly look at the possibility of utilizing the vast non-fossil fuel resources in Mongolia and Russia, which have a greater potential for mitigation of global warming as well as better energy integration at the subregional level.

Energy security has been a key priority challenge for countries in Northeast Asia as the energy demand of the subregion is enormous. There has been a strong need for regional energy cooperation utilizing its geographical advantage from the combination of energy exporting and importing countries, but the level of cooperation is still very low. 
 
Upcoming Events
 
20th Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC)
1 - 2 February 2016, Tokyo, Japan

Photo from the 19th SOM held in Moscow, Russian Federation in 2014


The ENEA Office and the Japanese government will host the annual NEASPEC Senior Officials Meeting on 1 – 2 February 2016 in Tokyo. As the governing body of NEASPEC, SOM reviews institutional matters and plans for NEASPEC activities going forward in the field of transboundary air pollution, nature conservation, desertification and land degradation, low carbon cities and Marine Protected Areas. The upcoming SOM will adopt the 5-year Strategic Plan 2016-2020 and discuss the role of NEASPEC in subregional processes for broader global development agenda, particularly, the Sustainable Development Goals.

Other News
 
Year-end Gathering with UN Offices and International Organizations based in Songdo
16 December 2015, Incheon, Republic of Korea


More than 100 staff and colleagues from UN offices and international organizations that call Songdo their home attended a year-end gathering on 16 December 2015, organized and hosted by the ENEA Office in its beautiful atrium in the G-Tower. Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) Commissioner Lee Young-geun expressed his appreciation to the ENEA Office for giving everyone an opportunity to mingle and look back on the year 2015 together. ENEA Director Kilaparti Ramakrishna welcomed the colleagues from the World Bank Korea, Green Climate Fund (GCF), UNCITRAL, UNISDR, UN-APCICT, UNOSD and the city of Incheon, and the attendees enjoyed their fellowship with one another in festive mood. 

 
ENEA Office Launches UN Day 2015 Video
16 December 2015, Incheon, Republic of Korea


The ENEA Office in December launched a 10-minute video capturing the highlights of UN Day celebrations that took place in the Republic of Korea in the form of a speech contest and a career fair bringing about 15 UN offices and international organizations located in the country. The two events held on 22 October 2015 in Songdo attracted some 2,500 middle, high school and university students as well as job seekers from around the nation and abroad who were eager to learn about pressing world issues the UN is working to address and a wide range of career opportunities in the UN system.

After officially launching the video the ENEA Office’s communications team put together on 16 December, the ENEA Office uploaded it to www.un-rok.org to share it with the public. The UN Day 2015 video can be accessed here: http://www.un-rok.org/unday2015-av. Also available on the website are a series of audio files of the special lectures given by the heads of UN offices and international organizations on 22 October as part of the UN Career Fair. Those who attended the UN Day Speech Contest and UN Career Fair 2015 can also upload their own stories and photos from the day to the website. 
 
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Do you have any questions for ESCAP, ESCAP-ENEA Office or the ENEA staff? Would you like to learn more about what we do and what we plan to do in the coming months?

Please send us your questions to escap-sroenea-registry@un.org , and we will make sure your questions are answered.

Thank you! We look forward to receiving your questions. 
 ________________
 
Established in May 2010, the East and North-East Asia Office of ESCAP supports and promotes inclusive and sustainable development and cooperation among six member States (China, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Russian Federation) and two associate members (Hong Kong and Macao) in Northeast Asia.
Copyright © 2015 ESCAP-ENEA, All rights reserved.

ESCAP-ENEA
7th Floor, G-Tower
175 Art Center-daero, Yeonsu-gu
Incheon 406-840, Republic of Korea 


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