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Cablegate: Why the Asia Regional Center of Excellence On Climate

VZCZCXRO8561
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH RUEHPB
DE RUEHBK #2259/01 2470750
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040750Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8168
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7425
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 3958
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 WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002259

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

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

SUBJECT: Why the Asia Regional Center of Excellence on Climate
Change Should be in Bangkok

REFS: A) Bangkok 2046; (B) Jakarta 1314

FROM THE AMBASSADOR

1. SUMMARY. Ref A details USAID's plans to move forward with
development of an Asia-Pacific Regional Center of Excellence on
Climate Change and Development (ARC) in Bangkok. With the ARC's
purpose to concentrate a network of leading U.S. and Asia
institutions to advance the President's climate change and
development objectives, I believe that Bangkok is the logical locus
for the Center. Cognizant of Embassy Jakarta's points on
Indonesia's importance for climate change efforts (see Ref B),
Indonesia should be a key sub-regional center. But a combination of
four factors makes Bangkok ideal for the ARC itself: the existing
USG regional platform; the suitability of Bangkok's infrastructure
as a hub; the close cooperative relationship of Thailand and the
U.S. for our USG presence; and Bangkok's existing role as the major
center in Asia for global climate change and development efforts.
END SUMMARY.

------------------------------------
The USG Regional Platform in Bangkok
------------------------------------

2. As a USAID-supported Center, the ARC should logically be where
USAID considers the best central location. The reach of the
Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) is from South Asia to
the Pacific. RDMA programs engaging China and India are critical
for realizing climate change and development results across the
Asia-Pacific region. Initiating a new regional activity outside of
the designated USAID regional hub would compromise fiscal and
management efficiencies. RDMA already has established relationships
and successful programs operating in China. It would be wasteful
not to take advantage of this momentum.

3. RDMA already operates many programs out of our Mission that
would feed into the ARC; separating these programs geographically
from the ARC would dilute and fragment USAID efforts. The list is
long, but only a few of the successful programs include the
Environmental Cooperation-Asia Clean Development and Climate
Program; the U.S.-China Sustainable Buildings Partnership; the Asia
Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program; the Responsible Asia
Forestry and Trade (RAFT) Program; and USG support for the regional
Coral Triangle Initiative.

4. RDMA plans additional regional climate change activities in the
Asia-Pacific region, including: a regional climate and weather
visualization and monitoring system ("SERVIR-Asia"); the Asia
Responsible Biofuels Initiative; the Asia watersheds climate
initiative (focusing on the Mekong and other river basins); the
Resilience Initiative for Coastal Communities and Small Island
Developing States; and the Asia regional green buildings/industries
initiative.

5. 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 twenty countries in the Pacific and
East, South and Southeast Asia. As East Asia's regional management
platform for USG agencies involved in overseas operations, U.S.
Mission Bangkok has the physical and human infrastructure in place
to support additional offices. Judging from country clearance
requests, a large proportion of USG program officers already pass
through Bangkok on their way to other countries in Asia. It is no
coincidence that the DOS regional environmental hub and the DOS
regional financial center are also located in Bangkok.

-------------------------------
Bangkok is Southeast Asia's Hub
-------------------------------

6. As the host for the ARC's central facility, Bangkok will offer
many advantages as the major logistics, transportation, and

BANGKOK 00002259 002 OF 002


communications hub for the region. As a consideration for locating
more USG personnel overseas, Bangkok provides a high degree of
personal security compared with other locations in the region. For
these reasons, Bangkok is already the site of more climate change
and development conferences and events than any other East Asian
city.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Thailand Remains Keen to Host USG Regional Activities
--------------------------------------------- --------

7. Approximately one-fifth of the Mission's close to 2000 U.S. and
Thai employees work on regional health issues. While there are
important linkages among public health, development, and climate
change that provide another reason for the ARC to be in Bangkok, the
USG health presence in Bangkok exemplifies the Royal Thai
Government's (RTG) openness to USG regional work. Not only has the
RTG permitted a 200-plus person CDC presence, but the CDC office is
located within the Ministry of Public Health. Other USG agencies
also have a large presence in Thailand (almost forty offices and
agencies), owing to the Royal Thai Government's flexible
accommodation on USG staffing levels. Any staffing increases
necessitated by the ARC could be easily achieved here. Our close
historical relationship with Thailand, both political and
commercial, spans more than 175 years; we have never had to reduce
staffing levels for political or other reasons, and we think it
highly unlikely it would happen in the future.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Bangkok is the Climate Change and Development Capital
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. The ARC will be devoted to development in the context of climate
change. Some 24 regional United Nations agencies and platforms
operate from Bangkok -- many of which work in climate change and
almost all of which work in development. We have just learned that
the UN Environmental Program regional office will open a climate
change Center of Learning next month. Other donor countries that
work in these two areas have their regional platforms here just as
we do. The major international financial institutions such as the
ADB and the World Bank either have regional headquarters here or
major regional offices for both development and climate change. The
large international NGOs that work on climate change all have
regional offices in Bangkok. Thailand and its universities are
leaders for climate change research in their own rights, but when
the regional research institutions (including the Asian Disaster
Preparedness Center, the Climate Risk center in the Asian Institute
of Technology, and the Stockholm Environment Institute) are factored
in, the case for a USG climate change center is compelling. Post
will send a full list of the Thailand-based climate change and
development institutions to OES, USAID, and the Office of the
Special Envoy - the list is truly impressive.

9. The entire Mission team is committed to working with all the
U.S. Missions in the region to optimize regional work on development
and climate change. The ARC would logically have sub-regional
offices. As outlined in Ref A, the ARC would make integration with
the President's Muslim World Initiative a priority, and for that
reason, Jakarta and Dhaka would be ideal sub-regional ARC locations.
To make the ARC successful, we should build on the success that
donors, universities, international organizations, and the USG have
had in locating their regional centers in Bangkok.

JOHN

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