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Cablegate: Progress On Asia Regional Center of Excellence On Climate

VZCZCXRO5092
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH RUEHPB
DE RUEHBK #2046/01 2301038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181038Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7941
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7331
RUEHBD/AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 3439
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9861
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 3642
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RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 0723
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 7563
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 7111
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7518
RUEHKN/AMEMBASSY KOLONIA 0189
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 7757
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 0787
RUEHMJ/AMEMBASSY MAJURO 0401
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5727
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RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0788
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 5803
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 5679
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 5334
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RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR 0644
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RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0051
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 9047
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHZU/APEC COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCAA/GEOLOGICAL SURVEY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ EPA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDC/NOAA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/USPACOM LO WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 BANGKOK 002046

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/EGC,PCI; EAP, D, S/SECC-JPERSHING,CSIERAWSKI
STATE PLEASE PASS TO EPA/OIA, DOE/PI, NOAA, NSF, USDA/FS
USAID FOR ANE/AA,ANE/EAA,ANE/TS,ANE/SPO, EGAT/AA,/ESP,LPA
INTERIOR FOR USGS, USFWS
USDA FOR FAS, USFS
PACOM FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY UNIT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SENV ENRG ASEAN APECO TH

SUBJECT: Progress on Asia Regional Center of Excellence on Climate
Change and Development

REF: Jakarta 1314

BANGKOK 00002046 001.2 OF 008


THIS IS AN ACTION MESSAGE. SEE PARAGRAPH 17.

1. SUMMARY. After a year of preparation, the USAID Regional
Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) is ready to move forward with a
feasibility assessment for the Asia Regional Center of Excellence on
Climate Change and Development (ARC) in Bangkok. The ARC is
intended to serve as a network of leading technical institutions in
Asia and the U.S. to enhance, catalyze, and expand innovation and
action on climate change and development priorities in the
Asia-Pacific region, and is a direct response to new Administration
priorities for engaging the Asia region in addressing climate change
and development challenges. The ARC has been broadly vetted within
USAID and State in Washington, and as conceived would contribute
significantly to the President's Muslim World Initiative in Science,
Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MWI). ACTION REQUEST:
RDMA requests the Department to ask EAP and relevant SCA posts (info
addressees above) to provide key points of contact of leading
technical and research institutions, universities, think tanks, and
other partners who are likely to play an important role in
partnership with the ARC. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- -----
History - Asia Climate Change Center of Excellence
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. The RDMA began taking concerted steps in 2007 to significantly
elevate its focus on global climate change (GCC) and prepared a
five-year programming Road Map for the Asia-Pacific region with the
support of the GCC team in USAID's Bureau for Economic Growth,
Agriculture, and Trade (EGAT). The idea for a GCC center of
excellence for the Asia region originated in this Road Map and began
to coalesce in early 2008 in connection with USAID's "Rebuilding
USAID" initiative, one of the key pillars of which was to build
capacity in regional centers to respond to complex challenges and
provide specialized technical support to bilateral field Missions
while maximizing the efficient use of Agency resources. Among the
earliest such initiatives proposed was to "expand the Bangkok
platform to develop expertise in Global Climate Change and Energy."
In response, RDMA was tasked with presenting brief summaries on
possible "centers of excellence" for the Asia region for
consideration by USAID's Business Transformation Executive Committee
(BTEC).


BANGKOK 00002046 002.2 OF 008


3. In March 2009, at the express request of BTEC and of USAID's
Asia Bureau, RDMA prepared and submitted a concept note to the Asia
Bureau and BTEC describing a new Asia Regional Center of Excellence
on Climate Change and Development (ARC) that would serve the
Asia-Pacific region and be based in Bangkok. To date, the concept
also has been shared with the USAID GCC team and Asia Bureau,
State/OES, and approximately 95 USAID staff participating in the
worldwide GCC and Development training in Washington last month.
Positive feedback resulted from informal discussions with a number
of posts in the Asia-Pacific region during the Asia Mission
Directors meeting at PACOM in April 2009.

4. During the past several weeks, the ARC concept has been
discussed with EAP A/S Campbell, when he accompanied the Secretary
on her visit to Bangkok, as well as in Washington with the Deputy
Envoy on Climate Change, Jonathan Pershing. The ARC concept also
has been incorporated into discussions among the agencies
participating in the sub-IPC on Science and Technology, aimed at
formulating actionable deliverables in connection with the
President's Muslim World Initiative in Science, Technology,
Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MWI).

--------------------------------------------- ------
Climate Change Challenges in the Asia-Pacific Region
--------------------------------------------- -------

5. The Asia region is central to USG efforts to address climate
change due to the region's substantial greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions and its significant vulnerabilities to the impacts of
climate change. (Note, consistent with RDMA's geographic coverage,
the term "Asia" encompasses comprehensively the broader Asia-Pacific
region.) China, Indonesia, and India rank among the top six GHG
emitters worldwide, and since 2008 China has been the world's
largest emitter overall. By 2030, carbon dioxide emissions from
energy consumed in Asia's largest developing countries are expected
to jump from 23 to 50 percent of the world total, primarily due to
surging coal and petroleum use. Deforestation, poor forestry
practices, and land degradation further contribute significantly to
the region's GHG emissions.

6. As many as 2.5 billion people in the region are at risk from the
effects of climate change, largely due to heavy dependence on
threatened natural resources, large populations in coastal and other
low-lying areas, and direct climate impacts ranging from water
scarcity (e.g., seven major river systems dependent on Tibetan

BANGKOK 00002046 003.2 OF 008


glaciers), to sea-level rise, to increased frequency of severe
weather in an already disaster-prone region. Given these mounting
challenges, RDMA has been actively advancing the USG climate change
and development agenda in the Asia-Pacific region, and has launched
a series of new climate change-focused programs regionally and in
China, as well as conducted a series of high-profile studies on key
climate change challenges and opportunities in the region.
Burgeoning interest in a regional climate change center of
excellence has been a direct outgrowth of these initiatives.

----------------------------
ARC Objectives and Functions
----------------------------

7. As outlined in the ARC concept note, which RDMA has shared with
OES/EGC and S/SECC, the objective of the ARC is "to serve as a
leading technical institution with world-class expertise, research,
technical assistance, training, and knowledge sharing capabilities
to enhance, catalyze, and expand innovation and action in order to
advance USG climate change and development goals related to
adaptation, forest and land use management, and clean energy in
Asia." In achieving these objectives, the ARC will facilitate
information-sharing on current science and policy to inform and
guide USAID and its partners (including other USG agencies) in more
effectively addressing climate change and development challenges in
Asia. Core functions of the ARC will be to expand technical
capacity and leadership in Asia's GCC and development, assisting
USAID bilateral Missions and USG partners in developing and
implementing climate change and development actions more
effectively, and helping leverage private sector resources and
partnerships to further augment impact. Where appropriate, the ARC
will also manage and implement targeted regional programs (such as
regional data sharing systems).

8. The ARC will link to national-level policy developments on
climate change in a range of countries, and thus complement ongoing
bilateral activities of USAID missions, other USG agencies, and
donors. The ARC will also serve as a USG platform for mobilizing
the whole range of USG expertise including the Department of
Agriculture/Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and
Department of Energy (DOE). Further synergies will result from
coordination with other regional USG initiatives and offices, such
as with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) DRAGON scientific network.
DRAGON was highlighted in the Secretary's ground-breaking meeting

BANGKOK 00002046 004.2 OF 008


with the Foreign Ministers from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and
Vietnam last month in Phuket, which inaugurated the
Mississippi-Mekong Sister River Partnership. The ARC will also work
closely with the OES regional ESTH hubs in Bangkok, Kathmandu and
Suva.

9. ARC partners will conduct cutting-edge basic and applied
research, analysis, testing, piloting, evaluation, and scale up, and
work to disseminate innovative GCC policies, programs, tools,
technologies, and practices in clean energy, forestry and land use,
adaptation and resilience. Targeted cutting-edge research supported
through the ARC's strategic partnerships will aim to better
understand regional, sub-regional, and local-level climate change
challenges across a range of issues (e.g., glacial melt, coastal
inundation, peatland emissions, and ocean acidification), in order
to identify the best near and long-term response measures.
Training, publications, and programs will aim to mobilize, catalyze,
and scale up investments in innovative climate change and
development solutions across the region. To ensure the greatest
benefits from these efforts, it is envisioned that the ARC will
retain world-class U.S. and international expertise, support
professional exchanges, engage with a broad community of leading
researchers and practitioners, and directly link applied research
and "learning" activities with education initiatives in the region.

--------------------------------------------- -----
"Center" as Regional Network of Strategic Partners
--------------------------------------------- -----

10. The ARC is envisioned to serve as a principal hub for
innovation and knowledge-sharing through cooperative partnerships
with state-of-the-art U.S., international, and regional science and
technology research institutions, universities, and think tanks, as
well as with the private sector, and regional and bilateral
partners. This "hub and spokes" concept is expected to provide the
strongest possible framework for promoting regional cooperation and
action on climate change and development challenges in the region,
and aligns with existing partnership arrangements in the climate
change and development sphere. By providing these services through
a broad network of institutions in the region, the Center will
enhance, catalyze and expand innovation and action in order to
achieve USG and partner country climate change and development goals
related to clean energy, forest and land use management, and
adaptation in the region.


BANGKOK 00002046 005.2 OF 008


11. As the host for the ARC's central facility, Bangkok provides a
major logistics, transportation, and communications hub for the
region and sub-region. Some 24 regional United Nations agencies and
platforms operate from Bangkok -- most of which will play an
important cooperative role on climate change -- as well as a number
of regional universities (such as the Asian Institute of
Technology), research and training centers, NGO-supported
initiatives, and bilateral donors implementing regional programs.
Bangkok is also the base for over ten USG agencies that support
regional programs with a connection to climate change, and
partnerships across more than 20 countries in East Asia (including
China and the Tibetan Plateau), South Asia (including India and
Bangladesh), Southeast Asia (including Indonesia), and the Pacific.
While the ASEAN and APEC Secretariats may not be located in Bangkok,
it remains a significant base from which the USG engages both. Most
of the international NGOs with climate change programs make their
regional headquarters here. Bangkok also provides a relatively high
degree of security compared with other possible locations in the
region. For all these reasons, Bangkok is already the site of more
climate change conferences and events than any other Asian city.
The USG also has a huge presence in Thailand, with almost 40 offices
and agencies, owing to the Royal Thai Government's flexibility
accommodation on USG staffing levels. Any staffing increases
necessitated by the ARC could be easily achieved here, which may not
be the case in some other Asian countries. It is also worth noting
that our close historical relationship with Thailand makes it
extremely unlikely that we would ever have to precipitously reduce
staffing levels for political or other reasons.

12. As conceptualized, the ARC will serve the Asia region in full
coordination with USAID, State, and other USG counterparts based in
the region. RDMA recently updated its ARC Concept Note to reflect
important new developments in connection with the President's Muslim
World Initiative, and USAID now intends to address MWI priorities,
such as partnering with key S&T institutions in Indonesia,
Bangladesh, or in Muslim Majority Countries (MMCs) based on
direction from Washington and planned technical consultations on
feasibility and appropriateness. Jakarta and Dhaka are the primary
MMC locations being considered for sub-regional ARC representation.


------------------------------------------
Partnership with U.S. Department of Energy
------------------------------------------


BANGKOK 00002046 006.2 OF 008


13. In support of further developing potential partnerships,
USAID/RDMA has initiated discussions in Beijing this week with USDOE
on opportunities for coordinating the development and operations of
the ARC with the recently announced Joint Research Center on Clean
Energy with China, and related scaled-up DOE deployment activities.
Initial discussions were very positive and follow up meetings are
planned.

14. The opportunities for collaboration between the two centers in
mobilizing national and regional innovation and best practices in
clean energy are expected to be force multipliers for the products
of both, given the complementarity of DOE's science research
capacity and USAID's experience in capacity building, technical
outreach, and private sector partnering. USAID/RDMA's ongoing
climate change programs meet the intent of the U.S.-China MOU signed
at the July Strategic and Economic Dialogue. These include
U.S.-China partnerships addressing energy efficient lighting,
cleaner coal, green buildings, legal regulatory framework for
environmental enforcement, and community based energy efficiency
initiatives in Guangdong Province co-financed by General Electric,
Wal-Mart, Citi Foundation, Honeywell and other U.S. private sector
partners. An additional partnership being awarded in September will
expand into other climate change areas such as renewable energy and
greenhouse gas accounting. Guangdong Province is strategic in that
it was the first province to open China's external trade and is now
known as the "factory of the world." The GOC has recently tasked
province officials with meeting new carbon reducing performance
targets and these officials have been keen to form a strong
partnership with USAID.

15. RDMA will continue to explore opportunities for establishing
linkages with a wide range of key institutions and research centers
across the region, such as: The Energy and Resources Institute
(TERI) in India; the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
(IGES) in Japan; Clean Air Initiative-Asia (CAI-Asia) in Manila; the
Manila Observatory; Stockholm Environment Institute-Asia (SEI-Asia)
in Bangkok; the Asia-Pacific network on Climate Change (AP-Net) in
Tokyo; the Global Change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training
(START) Regional Center in Bangkok; the Center for International
Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor; the International Union for
Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Asia Regional Office in Bangkok; the
Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Secretariat in Jakarta; the Asian
Development Bank's (ADB's) Greater Mekong Subregion Environment
Operations Center in Bangkok; the Asian Institute of Technology
(AIT) in Bangkok; the ASEAN University Network, in Bangkok; the

BANGKOK 00002046 007.2 OF 008


Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Vientiane; the International Centre
for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu; the World
Wildlife Fund (WWF) Greater Mekong Program in Bangkok; the Asian
Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) in Bangkok; and potentially many
others.

--------------------------
ARC Feasibility Assessment
--------------------------

16. RDMA expects to expend approximately $800,000 in FY 2009
program funds to support the development of the ARC. It is in the
final stages of preparing to conduct a six month feasibility
assessment starting in October 2009 to explore options for
establishing the ARC during 2010. A request for quotations has been
issued, and RDMA expects to award a contract next month. The
assessment team is expected to conduct desktop research and
analysis; hold consultations, group meetings, and workshops with key
organizations and stakeholders in Washington and the Asia-Pacific
region; prepare an Assessment Report summarizing the findings
related to the areas described above; and prepare recommended
revisions to the ARC Concept Note. The final Assessment Report will
make recommendations regarding the ARC's core functions (including
research, knowledge-sharing, innovation, and related functions);
organization and management; and launch and operationalization.
RDMA and its assessment team intend to work closely with USAID/W,
State, and other USG agencies throughout the assessment.

--------------
Action Request
--------------

17. In preparation for the forthcoming feasibility assessment, Post
requests that the Department ask posts in EAP and the relevant SCA
posts (info addressees in this cable) to provide key points of
contact of leading technical and research institutions,
universities, think tanks, bilateral donors, and other partners who
are likely to play an important role in partnership with the ARC.
Please provide point of contact information including name, title,
organization, address/location, telephone, email, and web address,
if applicable, as well as a sentence summarizing the role of the
institution in addressing climate change and development
domestically or regionally. Post would appreciate submission of
information by info addressees by September 18 to Corina Warfield at
RDMA, cwarfield@usaid.gov, with a copy to ESTH Hub officer Hal

BANGKOK 00002046 008.2 OF 008


Howard, howardhh@state.gov. Post apologizes for the time
requirement that sending this information will entail, but will
provide the compiled organization data to USAID and the Department
for overall USG coordination of foreign assistance and
collaboration.

JOHN

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