Senior Officials Meeting (SOM)

To tackle environmental problems and foster cooperation on important issues, efforts at promoting subregional environmental cooperation in North-East Asia were first undertaken by ESCAP in cooperation with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the World Bank immediately following the Rio Conference in 1992. The yearly NEASPEC Meetings of Senior Officials (SOMs) contribute to both policy dialogue and exchange of experiences in the subregion. The SOMs discuss important subregional issues and approve budget and work plan of NEASPEC towards the goal of sustainable development. In addition, ongoing projects are reviewed and further areas of cooperation are identified.

SOM-1 (8-11 February 1993; Seoul, Republic of Korea)

The first Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-1) in 1993 was the first attempt of its kind which addresses environmental issues in an official level in the subregion. Since then, through the consultation process in a series of SOMs, NEASPEC has developed its function as a policy dialogue forum which deals with environmental issues by identifying common concern among member States and pursuing environmental cooperation projects in the relevant fields, with the participation of senior officials from China, Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation. SOM-1's principal contribution was the identification of three priority areas for cooperation, which included: a) Energy and air pollution; b) Ecosystem management, in particular deforestation and desertification; and c) Capacity-building.

SOM-2 (28-29 November 1994; Beijing, China)

The Second Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-2), held with the participation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in addition to China, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Russian Federation, endorsed five priority (first phase) projects for implementation: a) Operations and Maintenance Training for Reduction of Sulphur Dioxide in Older Coal Fired Electricity Generation; b) Demonstration of Clean Coal-Fired Power Plant Technology; c) North-East Asian Biodiversity Management Programme; d) North-East Asian Seed Research and Information Base for Forests and Grasslands; e) Environmental Pollution Data Collection, Intercalibration, Standardization and Analysis. Out of the five projects identified, the Meeting urged that three projects be supported with funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and ESCAP. These were: a) Training for Sulphur Dioxide Reduction in Coal-Fired Power Plants; b) Demonstration of Low-Air Pollution Coal-Fired Power Plant Technology; and c) Environmental Pollution-Data Collection, Comparability and Analysis.

SOM-3 (17-20 September 1996; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)

The third Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-3) adopted a landmark framework for NEASPEC. Among other things, the Framework elaborated the geographical coverage, programme objectives, the functions and responsibilities of senior officials in promoting environmental cooperation, as well as coordination, management and financial mechanism of such cooperation. This was subsequently reported as a major subregional initiative to global environmental forums, including "Rio+5", the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York in June 1997, which undertook a comprehensive review of the implementation of Agenda 21.

SOM-4 (13-16 January 1998; Moscow, the Russian Federation)

The fourth Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-4) endorsed four follow-up second phase projects, adopting a resolution which elaborated issues relating to the institutional and financial arrangements, making efforts towards financial arrangements, including a trust fund, and reaching a consensus on the modalities of the trust fund. The Meeting also proposed the establishment of two training centres in the Republic of Korea, which ultimately became known as the "North-East Asian Centre for Environmental Data and Training" hosted by the National Institute of Environmental Research and the "North-East Asian Training Centre for Pollution Reduction in Coal-fired Power Plants" hosted by the Korea Electric Power Research Institute (KEPRI). Additionally, four primary projects were identified for the follow up funding: a) Pollution Reduction in Coal-fired Power Plants; b) Environmental Monitoring, Data Collection, Comparability and Analysis; c) Efficiency Improvement of Electrostatic Precipitators in Existing Power Plants; and d) Demonstration of Dry Sorbent Duct Injection (DSDI) Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) Technology.

SOM-5 (24-26 February 1999; Kobe, Japan)

The Fifth Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-5) expressed that NEASPEC is the only subregional framework of its kind which promotes modest but practical environmental cooperation. The Meeting further stressed that cooperation among North-East Asian countries is indispensable for future generations as a means to realize a century of peace and prosperity provided that the opportunities in the framework would be fully utilized. The Meeting also recognized the urgent need for exchange of views on environmental policy matters among the neighboring countries and the promotion of sustainable development. It pointed out that the wealth of expertise should be fully utilized for promoting further cooperation. The senior officials also stated their preference for maintaining various subregional environmental cooperation activities recognizing the efforts at capacity building and information exchange. In addition, the Meeting reaffirmed that the four second phase projects should be built on the tangible results of the completed projects and urged each of the participating countries and collaborating agencies to continue the efforts and supports to those projects.

SOM-6 (9-10 March 2000; Seoul, Republic of Korea)

The Sixth Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-6) adopted the Vision Statement for Environmental Cooperation in North-East Asia. The Vision Statement, together with the Framework of NEASPEC, is seen as the main policy basis to NEASPEC in the 21st century. In this connection, the Meeting emphasized the need for further development of the present NEASPEC Framework into a more comprehensive programme for environmental cooperation, requesting the ESCAP Secretariat to administer a core fund in order to support projects adopted by the SOMs and reviewing titles of the three project components following the Technical Assistance Project funded by the ADB: a) Regional Training for Reducing Pollution from Coal-Fired Power Plants; b) Environmental Monitoring, Data Collection, Comparability and Analysis; and c) Action Plans for Improving the Efficiency of Particulate Abatement Systems in Existing Power Plants.

SOM-7 (27 July 2001; Beijing, China)

The Seventh Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-7) discussed ongoing projects as well as the subregion's preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It also considered three programmes that were proposed by the Secretariat, i.e. a) Comprehensive Clean Technology Programme; b) North-East Asia Nature Conservation Programme; and c) Environmental Monitoring and Data Collection Programme.

SOM-8 (20 June 2002; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)

The Eighth Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-8) recognized the achievement of the NEASPEC projects on pollution control and environmental monitoring, data collection, comparability and analysis. It also recommended the initiation of the programme on nature conservation through the organization of an expert meeting and the establishment of a working group of national focal points to identify priority areas for development of projects on nature conservation and exchange of information on issues and problems. Moreover, SOM-8 supported the involvement of stakeholders and recognized several areas for action such as capacity building, exchange of information and expertise, data base management, scientific research and use of Geographical Information System (GIS). The Meeting also encouraged the development of the GEF project on dust and sand storms through collaborative efforts of international organizations and the increase of public awareness on NEASPEC at the national, regional and global levels.

SOM-9 (2-4 March 2004; Moscow, the Russian Federation)

With the participation of China, Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation, the ninth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-9) reviewed the status of NEASPEC projects on Pollution Control and Monitoring and on Control of Dust and Sand Storms in North-East Asia. The Meeting decided to undertake activities in two out of eight initially identified priority areas, i.e. a) conservation and recovery of large mammals and threatened species; and b) conservation, monitoring and cooperative research on important migratory species. It recommended that the use of modern tools of information and communication technology should be promoted in data exchange, implementation of training programmes and documentation on the project activities through the NEASPEC website.

SOM-10 (24-26 November 2004; Naha, Okinawa, Japan)

The tenth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-10) reviewed the terminal report of ADB-funded RETA on the reduction of air pollution and noted with satisfaction that the training and data monitoring manuals of such were being replicated in CA. In addition, project proposal and budget for the Framework for Nature Conservation Programme in North-East Asia were approved with the requirement that its implementation and disbursement of the funds had to be reported to the SOM-11. The Ministers of member countries were proposed to hold an informal gathering during the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in order to enhance the visibility of NEASPEC's success. SOM-10 also recommended that a detailed paper involving project concept, time frame and activities on new and emerging issues related to environmentally sustainable economic growth in North-East Asia should be developed and presented to SOM-11

SOM-11 (25-26 October 2005; Seoul, Republic of Korea)

With the participation of China, Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation, the eleventh Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-11) reviewed a wide range of NEASPEC activities including the first NEASPEC environment ministers meeting held during the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in 2005 (MCED 2005), Framework for a Nature Conservation Programme in North-East Asia and Mitigation of Transboundary Air Pollution from Coal-Fired Power Plants, as well as the follow-up activities of MCED 2005 and projects on dust and sandstorm. Moreover, the Meeting discussed the proposals for future activities on emerging issues related to environmentally sustainable economic growth and North-East Asia Environment Outlook. The expenditure of NEASPEC Core Fund and the contributions of member States are also considered.

Prior to SOM-11, an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on emerging issues related to environmentally sustainable economic growth in North-East Asia was held. In the EGM, there were resource persons' presentations and country reports focusing on eco-efficiency, as well as discussions on proper approaches to NEASPEC activities. The key outcomes of the meeting are as follows:

  • Reaffirmed the significance of NEASPEC in tackling common environmental challenges in the subregion and decided to explore proper ways for strengthening its institutional mechanisms. In particular, the Meeting requested the Secretariat to undertake research on future institutional mechanism and circulate the result among the member States in advance of the next SOM in order to make a meaningful decision at the Meeting
  • Noted the importance of ensuring the Nature Conservation Project to produce concrete outcomes and developing possible options for the participation of DPRK and the Russian Federation in an ADB-funded project on air pollution from coal-fired power plants
  • Concluded to develop a new activity on eco-efficiency in North-East Asia, and to organize an EGM in 2006 as a preparatory process of project development. In relation to the proposal on North-East Asia Environment Outlook, the Meeting requested the Secretariat to make additional efforts to elaborate on the project concept in details and circulate the proposal among the member States for further consultation
  • Considered the possibility of holding an informal NEASPEC ministers' meeting during other minister meetings such as the 14th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development

SOM-12 (22-23 March 2007; Beijing, China)

The twelfth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-12) in Beijing was attended by all six member countries. Key conclusions of SOM-12 are as follows:

  • Reaffirmed the need to strengthen NEASPEC into a comprehensive mechanism by developing new programme areas, enhancing ownership of the member countries and making effective institutional arrangements. In this context, the Meeting decided to continue the consultation on the proposal of the Republic of Korea on establishing and hosting the permanent secretariat of NEASPEC
  • Reaffirmed supports to the implementation of ADB RETA Project on Transboundary Air Pollutions from Coal-Fired Power Plants in North-East Asia
  • Adopted the Resolution on the Framework for Nature Conservation Programme in North-East Asia and endorsed the Nature Conservation Strategy
  • Decided to launch “Eco-efficiency Partnership in North-East Asia” and requested the Secretariat to develop a detailed activity plan for the Partnership

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SOM-13 (20-21 March 2008; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)

As NEASPEC was launched in February 1993, the Thirteenth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-13) held in March 2008 marked the 15th anniversary of NEASPEC. The Meeting also discussed new roles of NEASPEC on developing new programme areas, enhancing ownership of the member countries, and making effective institutional arrangements.  Key conclusions of SOM-13 are as follows:

  • Recommended a full consultative process for further development of the preliminary biodiversity conservation project so that the project will be a full NEASPEC project with comprehensive participation by NEASPEC member countries
  • Expressed the anticipation for early start of the implementation of the ADB RETA project on the Mitigation of Transboundary Air Pollution from Coal-fired Power Plants and requested the Secretariat to take practical steps to ensure appropriate financial arrangements for the participation of Russian Federation and DPRK
  • Requested the Secretariat to develop an activity plan the Eco-Efficiency Partnership before the next SOM
  • Requested the Secretariat to further develop the proposal for Mitigation of Dust and Sandstorm in collaboration with Mongolia and expressed the view that the project should ensure full participation of NEASPEC member countries

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SOM-14 (8-9 April 2009; Moscow, Russian Federation)

Attended by representatives of China, DPRK, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation, the fourteenth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-14) exchanged information on national initiatives relevant to NEASPEC and views on the significance of NEASPEC as a key vehicle for subregional environmental cooperation. It received the recognition of member States about the progress of NEASPEC and the importance of strengthening its activity and coordination among member States. The Meeting also made recommendations concerning the progress of the four NEAPSEC projects as follows:

  • Agreed to reformulate the current approach and scope of the Project on Mitigation of Transboundary Air Pollution from Coal-fired Power Plants and requested member countries to nominate one contact point to facilitate consultations and the Secretariat to take the interests of all member countries into account
  • Approved the proposal of the Project on Nature Conservation in Transboundary Areas and received the expression of member States’ readiness to contribute to the project
  • Approved the Project on the Mitigation of Dust and Sandstorms and requested to make further communications with member States regarding additional technical supports
  • Recognized the considerable relevance of the proposed Eco-Efficiency Partnership to the ongoing national initiatives on energy and resource efficiency and received concrete proposals from member States

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SOM-15 (17-18 March 2010; Tokyo, Japan)

Attended by representatives of China, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation, the Fifteenth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-15) exchanged information on national initiatives relevant to NEASPEC and views on the significance of NEASPEC as a comprehensive vehicle for the subregional environmental cooperation and sustainable development. In this regard, the Meeting noted the significance of developing concrete activities based on the common interests of member countries and through proper consultations with the member governments. At the same time, the Meeting discussed the progress of the four NEASPEC projects. Key outcomes are as follows:

  • Noted the significance of support from the respective government on the Project on Nature Conservation in Transboundary Areas and invited the member countries to inform the Secretariat of the nominated national implementing agency by 31 March 2010
  • Noted the proposal of the Russian Federation to develop an additional activity in the context of transboundary air pollution and invited the Russian Federation to communicate with the Secretariat with a more detailed proposal by 10 April 2010
  • Invited China and Mongolia to formally communicate with the Secretariat about the nomination of the national agency for the Project on Mitigation of Dust and Sandstorms and invited other member countries to nominate national focal points for the projects
  • Took note of the conclusion and recommendation of the Expert Group Meeting on Eco-Efficiency Partnership and requested the Secretariat to revise the plan accordingly

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SOM-16 (1-2 September 2011; Seoul, Republic of Korea)

The sixteenth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-16), organized by ESCAP Subregional Office for East and North-East Asia (SRO-ENEA), was the first meeting after the relocation of the secretariat from ESCAP Headquarters in Bangkok to ESCAP SRO-ENEA in Incheon, Republic of Korea. SOM-16 reviewed the progress of the programmes:

  • Noted the importance of the Project on Nature Conservation in Transboundary Areas as a flagship project of NEASPEC, requesting the Secretariat to include the protected areas of Mongolia as well as considering expansion of the target species by including water birds and marine mammals
  • Noted the contribution of the Project on Mitigation of Transboundary Air Pollution in improving local air quality and highlighted the significance of the continuation of knowledge transfer activities, wide dissemination of project results and collaboration with other relevant mechanisms
  • Noted the contribution of the Project on Mitigation on Dust and Sandstorms and welcomed the planned future activities, namely, training programme for Mongolian experts in China and a NEASPEC side event during the 10th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Combating Desertification
  • Requested the Secretariat to develop knowledge sharing activities for the Eco-efficiency Partnership and prepare a concept paper regarding the proposed “Green University Award” programme for decision by member states.

In addition to the review of programmes, SOM-16 reflected on the global, regional and national preparatory processes for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and hold discussions on its principal themes.

Moreover, SOM-16 considered the new NEASPEC project proposals by member states, including Russia Federation’s proposal on Transboundary Air Pollution in North-East Asia and ROK’s proposals on Transboundary Marine Pollution and conservation of endangered migratory bird species.

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SOM-17 (20-21 December 2012; Chengdu, China)

The Meeting supported to continue existing programmes on transboundary air pollution, nature conservation in transboundary areas (with focus on Amur tiger and leopard) and dust and sandstorms while specific activities will be further formulated/elaborated during 2013. In addition, the meeting also endorsed proposals from the Secretariat of new initiatives including launching a marine protected areas network, protecting the key habitats of migratory birds, and launching the information platform for low-carbon cities.

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SOM-18 (5-6 November 2013, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)

With the participation of China, Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation, the eighteenth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM-18) held in November 2013 commemorated the 20th anniversary of NEASPEC after the first meeting in February 1993. Recognizing the achievement of SOMs acting as an integral platform for decision-making for reviewing environmental processes in the subregion, the Meeting reviewed the existing programmes and launched new programmatic work on Marine Protected Areas. Key outcomes of SOM-18 are as follows:

  • Transboundary Air Pollution: noted the process and outcomes of the consultation after SOM-17 on the Russian proposal on the development of technical and policy framework for transboundary air pollution assessment and abatement; endorsed the Russian proposal with the observations from China expressed in para.5; and welcomed the indication of the Secretariat to develop a plan for an expert group meeting and circulate it to member States expeditiously
  • Dust and Sand Storms: commended the successful completion of the training workshop in September 2013; reiterated the support for carrying out similar activities; and noted the importance of linking NEASPEC programme with other existing mechanisms in the subregion
  • Nature Conservation: noted progress made in increasing bilateral cooperation between China and the Russian Federation for the conservation of Amur tigers and leopards and received support from member States on DNA analysis for target species; and reviewed the outcome of the Expert Group Meeting on "Conservation and rehabilitation of habitats for key migratory bird in NEA" and approved the implementation plan
  • Marine Protected Areas: commended the progress made so far, and endorsed the draft Terms of Reference of the North-East Asian Marine Protected Areas Network (NEAMPAN)
  • Green developmnet/green economy and eco-efficiency: requested the member States to share information on national progress related to green development, green economy, and eco-efficiency for dissemination to other member States

In addition, SOM-18 received the proposal of Mongolia entitled "A conservation strategy to achieve recovery of a critically endangered Gobi bear population in Mongolia" and noted the urgency of the proposed project activities.

More details and documents for download.

SOM-19 (22-23 September 2014, Moscow, Russian Federation)

The most notable progress made at the meeting were formalizing target protected areas and operational modality of the North-East Asia Marine Protected Areas Network (NEAMPAN) established during the last SOM and launching the Low Carbon City Platform.

The meeting mainly reviewed the progress in project implementation of the following areas: (a) transboundary air pollution, (b) nature conservation and (c) dust and sandstorms and desertification.

Participants also agreed to finalize a long-term strategic plan for NEASPEC in the next SOM, which has been under consultation with member States.

The First Meeting of Senior Officials (SOM-1), held in Seoul, Republic of Korea in 1993 marked the birth of NEASPEC. Since then, through a consultation process in a series of SOMs, NEASPEC has continuously developed its role both as a policy dialogue forum to deal with environmental issues of common concern to the countries in the subregion, as well as a governing body to guide joint implementation of subregional projects and activities.

With ESCAP as NEASPEC’s interim secretariat, SOM-1 identified three priority areas for cooperation. In addition, it recommended that the subregional cooperation programme should be developed on a step-by-step and consensus-seeking basis.

SOM-2 held in 1994 approved five priority projects for implementation and elaborated the overall framework of cooperation. SOM was officially endorsed to be the governing body and a forum for sharing of experience on policy matters, information exchange, consultation and stocktaking on activities. A tangible result-oriented approach and further institutional development were agreed upon, in response to a special session scheduled for 1997 by the United Nations General Assembly to review the implementation of Agenda 21

SOM-3 in 1996 has paved the way for future institutional development of NEASPEC by pinning down the geographic coverage, programme objectives, interim secretariat arrangement, participation, coordination and management, collaborating agencies, financial mechanism, criteria for project selection and policy guidance stated under Agenda 21 in the Framework for the NEASPEC.

Funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and administered by ESCAP, three sub-projects on air-pollution in coal-fired power plants, out of five, were identified in SOM-2 and started to be implemented from October 1996 to March 1998. Endorsed by SOM-4 (1998) and financially supported by ADB, the follow-on activities addressing air-pollution were proposed to commence in January 2001 and complete in June 2004.

SOM-5 further stressed that cooperation among the countries of North-East Asia is indispensable for future generations as a means to realize a century of peace and prosperity provided that the opportunities in the Framework would be fully utilized. The Meeting also discussed various options of institutional framework for NEASPEC.

A landmark development of NEASPEC institutions took place in SOM-6 in 2000, where a Core Fund was established and a Vision Statement for Environmental Cooperation in the region was adopted. Two technical centers, the "North-East Asian Center for Environmental Data and Training" (NEACEDT) hosted at the National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) and the "North-East Asian Training Center for Pollution Reduction in Coal-fired Power Plant" hosted by the Korea Electric Power Research Institute (KEPRI) were established. In addition, an official website was set up.

SOM-7 discussed the ongoing projects as well as the subregion’s preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It also considered three programmes that were proposed by the Secretariat, i.e. a) Comprehensive Clean Technology Programme; b) North-East Asia Nature Conservation Programme; and c) Environmental Monitoring and Data Collection Programme.

SOM-8 and SOM-9 considered and approved the Programme on Nature Conservation. Thereby two priority areas, as well as the modalities and thrust of the implementation were identified. The Programme officially commenced in July 2005 through an inception meeting held in Chuncheon, Republic of Korea.

SOM-10 in 2004 noted with satisfaction the second phase of Transboundary Environmental Cooperation in North-East Asia funded by ADB and approved the project proposal of a Framework for Nature Conservation Programme. The Meeting, inter alia, underlined the new and emerging issues related to the environmentally sustainable economic growth in North-East Asia. Over time, projects undertaken within the Framework of NEASPEC started to take a significant turn from the “end-of-pipe” approach to a more holistic approach integrating environmental concerns with economic growth.

In response to the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development held in March 2005 (MCED 2005), SOM-11 in 2005 steered the subregion towards environmentally sustainable economic growth (Green Growth) and recommended the exploration of proper approaches for the implementation of activities on eco-efficiency.

SOM-12 in 2007 reaffirmed the need to strengthen NEASPEC into a more comprehensive mechanism by developing new programme areas, enhancing ownership of the member States, and making effective institutional arrangements. In this context, the Meeting reviewed the proposal by the Republic of Korea on hosting the permanent Secretariat. While appreciating the proposal, SOM-12 requested the Republic of Korea to submit a revised version in response to key questions raised during the Meeting with the assistance from the Secretariat, so that the member governments can build the consensus by 10 May 2007.

SOM-13 in 2008 exchanged information on the member countries’ national action towards environmental protection and sustainable development and their implications for North-East Asian subregional cooperation. Member countries expressed views on the need to revitalize NEASPEC by developing new programme areas, enhancing ownership of the member countries and making more effective institutional arrangements. Regarding institutional arrangements, it reviewed and accepted in principle, the recommendations of the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) held on 20 March, covering the issues of a) NEASPEC and NEA Environmental Cooperation and b) new arrangement of the NEASPEC Secretariat.

During SOM-14 in 2009, senior officials exchanged information on national initiatives relevant to NEASPEC and views on the significance of NEASPEC as a key vehicle for subregional environmental cooperation. The Meeting received the recognition of member countries about the progress of NEASPEC and at the same time the importance of strengthening its activity and coordination among member countries. The Meeting received a briefing on the current progress of the establishment of ESCAP Subregional Office for East and North-East Asia (SRO-ENEA). As the establishment of the Subregional Office is directly relevant to the secretariat arrangement, the Meeting reviewed the progress without any substantive discussions on the subject.

SOM-15  in 2010 exchanged information on national initiatives relevant to NEASPEC and views on the significance of NEASPEC as a comprehensive vehicle for the subregion to jointly promote environmental cooperation and sustainable development. It reviewed the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Meeting on the new ESCAP Subregional Offices held in March 2010 in Bangkok and recommended that the operational functions of interim secretariat of NEASPEC will be carried out by the ESCAP SRO-ENEA in Incheon.

SOM-16 was the first SOM after the relocation of the Secretariat from the ESCAP Headquarter in Bangkok to ESCAP SRO-ENEA in Incheon and the change of Secretariat status from interim to permanent. In this regard, SOM-16 recognized that NEASPEC has arrived at a new milestone in its institutional development and should utilize this momentum to further strengthen subregional environmental cooperation.

In view of the relocation of Secretariat, SOM-16 discussed the need to define rules of procedure, official titles of NEASPEC staff and other related matters and decided that the Chair of the current SOM will continue his/her functions until the next SOM to enhance effective communication among member States. To strengthen the cooperation, member States requested the Secretariat to conduct an analytical study of similar subregional entities aiming to deepen and broaden NEASPEC’s engagement benefitting from others’ experience, as well as asking the Secretariat to explore the synergies between current and proposed activities to ensure optimum utilization of resources.

SOM-17 came to a general conclusion on the continuation of the current arrangement of the governing body, i.e. SOM, while ad hoc ministerial gathering could be organized taking advantages of regional ministerial meetings including Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific. The Meeting also took note of the recommendations contained in the study ”North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities” on the need of according official status to staff members of ESCAP SRO-ENEA serving NEASPEC in order to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of secretariat work, and the need of developing a long-term (Five year or ten year) strategy as a way to support member States to share a long-term view on the direction of NEASPEC and to enhance the efficiency of NEASPEC.  The Meeting also discussed the ways of improving the current functioning of the NEASPEC Secretariat in order to better meet the needs of member States.

SOM-18 took note of the recommendations submitted to SOM-17 and the current SOM, and received views of member States on the recommendations. The Meeting agreed to (1) develop a long-term strategic plan, (2) accord the official NEASPEC titles to those ESCAP staff serving for the Secretariat, and (3) convene a ministerial gathering during the 7th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific to be held in 2015. It further requested the Secretariat to prepare an information document and to share with member States ahead of the next SOM.

The Meeting supported the development of Strategic Plan and requested the Secretariat to prepare and circulate a questionnaire on the Strategic Plan to the member governments, and continue to communicate with member States on the development of the Plan before the next SOM.

NEASPEC Secretariat