Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Issues in the region

Increasing pressure on the natural resource base

Over the past 40 years, natural resources in Asia and the Pacific region have been subjected to increasing degradation. The pressure on land, forests, water, aquatic resources and coastal ecosystems has been severe in many areas. Growing populations, persistent poverty and institutional weaknesses, such as ineffective governance or ambiguous property rights, exacerbate an already-difficult situation. This threatens livelihoods, food and nutritional security, people’s health and long-term sustainable development.

In particular, land and water scarcities are severe constraints in this densely populated region. A substantial part of its land area is affected by one form of degradation or another, such as deforestation, inappropriate agricultural practices, inefficient irrigation water use, excessive groundwater extraction and industrial development; excessive and/or unbalanced applications of chemical fertilizers and excessive or inappropriate pesticide use; livestock waste polluting land and water; heavy fishing pressures and habitat degradation in inland, coastal and oceanic waters of the region; transboundary river water pollution; and poor management and maintenance of irrigation and drainage systems.

Appropriate policies, regulations, technologies and good governance are required. They should be accompanied by strategic investments to modernize the natural resources sector and build regional capacity in order to create more productive and sustainable systems while preserving the resources for future generations. Prudent natural resource management is a crucial aspect of food security in Asia and the Pacific region.