On October 24-25, 2008, the 7th ASEM Summit took place in Beijing attended by the Heads of State and Government of sixteen Asian and twenty-seven European nations, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary-General of ASEAN Secretariat. One of the main outcomes of the Summit was the adoption of the Beijing Declaration on Sustainable Development.

The 6th ASEM Summit identified sustainable development, in particular the MDGs, climate change, environment and energy as key policy areas of ASEM for action of the next decade. The 7th ASEM Summit has complemented the efforts of ASEM leaders in adopting the Beijing Declaration.

In the Declaration the leaders reiterated that sustainable development bears on the present and future of mankind and that all nations should, while pursuing economic development, strive to maintain environment quality and take account of the needs of future generations. Realising that economic development, social progress and environmental protection are three mutually reinforcing and interdependent pillars of sustainable development, the Declaration called for special attention to be paid to the MDGs, climate change and energy security, and social cohesion. In its conclusions it encourages the ASEM partners to conduct more activities for the implementation of the Beijing Declaration.

The Declaration also welcomed the substantive discussion and consensus at the UN High-Level event on MDGs in New York, September 2008, and looked forward to substantive progress to be made at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Doha, December 2008. These events, as well as the recent High Level Forum in Accra on Aid Effectiveness, have brought into focus the importance of the aid effectiveness for ASEM countries.

In this context, the objective of the ASEM Development Conference will be to give a steer to the dialogue on sustainable development by bringing together high level officials and experts from the development field for a strategic policy discussion.