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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 15) - The importance of developing a new model for green economic growth in the Asia Pacific region is among the major issues to be discussed by environment experts during the 24th Pacific Islands Environmental Conference next week.

The conference, to be held June 22 to 24 at the Hilton Guam Resort, is jointly hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Islands Office, Guam EPA, CNMI’s Department of Environmental Quality, and the American Samoa EPA.

The annual conference brings together people throughout the Pacific Islands to work for dialogue and exchange on various environmental issues. According to Guam EPA, each year’s conference has a different theme in response to the islands’ most pressing needs and interests. Sustainable development has been an overarching theme in the past three conferences. This year, the conference will focus on improvement of environmental sustainability and ecological efficiency in the Asia Pacific.

According to the program’s agenda, one of the speakers is Dr. Olivia la O’Castillo, president of the Philippine Pollution Prevention Roundtable and a member of the UN advisory board on water and sanitation, who will deliver a presentation based on the premise "that the region has a limited ecological carrying capacity."

O’Castillo will discuss the need for countries and islands in the region to improve their ecological efficiency in order to support growing population and continue economic development. She will address how "green growth" through sustainable production and consumption behavior must focus on improving eco-efficiency and not just environmental performance in reducing pollution.

Other topics for discussion are climate change and its economic impact and regional recycling.

The conference will also get updates on the landfill projects in Guam and the CNMI.

June 16, 2005

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