China is leading a push by Asia-Pacific nations into green technology, which could be their ticket to sustained growth and reduced reliance on Western markets, the United Nations said Thursday.
It said environmentally friendly industries could provide export-dependent regional economies with new sources of growth to help make up for weakened demand in crisis-hit United States and Europe.
"The impact of the crisis has revealed the vulnerability of the region to external shocks," the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific said in its annual economic and social survey of the region.
"Asian and Pacific countries therefore need to find new sources of domestic and regional demand ... to help sustain their dynamism and allow for a gradual unwinding of global imbalances."
The UN praised efforts by China and South Korea for their "significant initiatives" to promote green technology as well as shift domestic consumption and production patterns to a more "environmentally sustainable path".
Government-backed investment in "energy and material-saving innovations" could see "greener" industries and businesses become drivers of growth as well as provide more affordable products for the poor, the report said.
But it was essential developed countries share their green expertise with poorer nations who cannot afford the technology, Aynul Hasan, head of macroeconomic policy and development, told a news conference.
"That technology should be shared," Hasan told reporters.
"This is where regional cooperation as well as the support of developed countries will be very, very important."
China invested 34.6 billion dollars in clean energy in 2009, up more than 50 percent on the previous year -- making it the world's biggest investor in energy-efficient technology, it said.
South Korea plans to inject 84 billion dollars in environmentally friendly industries over the next five years, the report said.
"China is playing an important role ... in terms of promoting green technology dealing with the environmental issues," said Hasan.
While China was expected to continue leading the Asian recovery from the financial crisis, much depended on Japan, the world's number two economy, where domestic demand and business investment remained weak, the UN said.
Another major threat to the recovery was growing inflationary pressures and asset price bubbles as "excessive liquidity from developed economies finds its way to emerging economies in Asia", Hasan warned.
"It's a major challenge for these countries to control inflation without hurting the growth momentum," he said.
The UN also called on regional leaders to strengthen their social safety nets and give more people access to basic financial services to generate jobs, fuel domestic spending and ensure sustained economic growth.
"Robust evidence ... shows that poor households with access to financial services can improve their economic well-being," the report said.
(c) 2010 AFP