Policy Makers in South East Asia Discuss Shift from Governance through Rules to Governance through Goals

The 9th ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme is a collaboration of the ASEAN Secretariat, three UN agencies (UNU-IAS, UNEP and UNIDO), and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, and hosted by the Vietnam Environment Administration, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam. In discussions and through case studies, policy makers critically analyzed and discussed case studies on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) patterns, resource efficiency, cleaner production, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and eco-innovation. These processes are relevant to achieve key SDG targets, specifically within SDG 12 – Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns.

Over 50 mainly policymakers of different ministries from ten countries (eight ASEAN Member States and two dialogue partner countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Japan) joined the Programme in Hanoi, Vietnam on 25-28 October, 2016.

Three Ministries from Vietnam (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Industry and Trade, and Ministry of Planning and Investment) participated in the Programme which benefited the discussions in many of the sessions. A request for engagement of the ministries with the different ASEAN focal points in the countries was raised to improve the cross-cutting connections in society and economy even further.

The session ASEAN 2025 – Forging Ahead Together highlighted the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the various working groups, including the Environmental Education group as the focal point for SCP. During the Programme the cross cutting nature of SCP was repeatedly emphasized. This was affirmed by the cross-cutting issues of the 10YFP and the rest of the SDG 12 targets which are essentially on sustainable value chains. The participants agreed that whereas sustainability conditions are reflected in international multilateral agreements, platforms and declarations, more efforts are needed to stimulate behavioural and cultural changes, thereby shifting paradigms from ‘governance through rules’ to ‘governance through goals’.

The session on SCP and Sustainable Value Chains looked at resource economics, the history of SCP in global policy and SCP’s global mandate through the 10YFP and the SDGs. The concept supply chain versus value chain was discussed and ASEAN pollution hotspots in the region’s value chain stressed.

Most sessions related to the mainstreaming and scaling up of policy to advance SCP. Other topics were how to responsibly conduct business, and financing options of green, climate resilient development projects. A case study on cooking stoves in Cambodia was used to assess how more efficient cooking stoves can be introduced using the appropriate policy mix and ensuring demand and supply of these stoves is met.

Part of the Programme focused on Eco-Innovation Business Models and the relevant policy mixes to promote and mainstream these. The sustainable supply chain for the freshwater catfish Pangasius in Vietnam was used as an example. Participants learned about the various resource efficient hot spots, promotion to market process, certification, support of farm production, and sustainable product innovation.

With a growing familiarity of SCP practices in ASEAN countries, there is demand for upscaling of these practices through new models and systems. Engagement with other, synergistic ways of thinking and acting such as for example CSR promise a lot of potential. SCP initiatives tend to be tilted towards the production and environmental aspects. Taking on CSR in the context of SCP would provide a necessary balance in areas beyond compliance and ethics.

A separate section of the Programme showed the different country initiatives, national laws and plans, as well as the SDG targets that relate to the sustainable value chain in each country. Presentations ranged from green certifications, eco-labels, sustainability standards, cases on sustainable products and supply chains, and the challenges to implement a sustainable value chain and how these are being addressed.

As interconnections across SDGs and targets are becoming more clear, future ASEAN+3 Leadership Programmes should highlight these synergies. Participation practices in Vietnam centred around a greater presence of country representatives of academia, NGOs and public authorities. As a result, more in-depth exchange between national level policymakers and the local SCP stakeholders was taking place. It was effective in demonstrating best practice cases from local organizations with the support of international ones such as UNIDO and UNEP.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three (ASEAN+3) aims to strengthen East Asia’s cooperation in various areas, including energy, transport, and information and communications technology. Since its inception in 2008, the annual ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme has supported the implementation of the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan.

The ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme aims at developing the capacities of policymakers on sustainable consumption and production to improve human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

The 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP), adopted at Rio+20 by the world’s Heads of State, is a global framework for action to accelerate the shift towards SCP in both developed and developing countries.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a set of seventeen aspirational “Global Goals” in sustainable development with 169 targets between them. Adopted by 194 countries at the UN General Assembly in 2015, the Goals address issues that range from poverty, health, climate, equality and many others.
UNU-IAS – United Nations University – Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability

UNIDO – United Nations Industrial Development Organization

UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme