In their eagerness to develop, states in East Asia (with the notable exceptions of Japan and Singapore) largely ignored the onset of environmental degradation, domestically as well as internationally. East Asia is a region where, because of widespread poverty, governments and societies have prioritised economic development over environmental protection. This could be expected when it is considered that East Asia was the poorest region in the world until the early 1980s. While there has been considerable wealth already for decades in some regions of East Asia, including in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, poverty was widespread throughout much of the region. From 1981 to 2001, however, more than 500 million people were pulled out of poverty, with progress being particularly extensive in China. During this period, those living in extreme poverty, at levels of US$1 or less per day, in East Asia fell from 58 to 16 per cent.1