Global Environment

The Seventh Asia Pacific Seminar on Climate Change

[CHAIRMAN'S SUMMARY]

- Critical Stage on the Road to Kyoto -

July 7-10, 1997, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan


  1. Attendance
  2. Major objectives of the Seminar
  3. Seminar proceedings
  4. General views
  5. Preparation of national communications
  6. Activities implemented jointly (AIJ)
  7. Regional cooperation on climate change in Asia and the Pacific
  8. Future modality and functions of the Seminar

1. The Seventh Asia Pacific Seminar on Climate Change was held in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan, on July 7-10, 1997, and was organized by the Environment Agency of Japan, Yamanashi Prefecture, Fujiyoshida City, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in cooperation with the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations University (UNU), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan.

1. Attendance

2. The Seminar was attended by experts from eighteen countries: China, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tuvalu, the United States of America, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The Seminar was also attended by representatives of ESCAP, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Environmental Technology Center and Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, UNU, and the Secretariat of UNFCCC. All participants appreciated the efforts by organizing agencies for having arranged this timely seminar on climate change.

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2. Major objectives of the Seminar

3. The major objectives of the Seminar were to;

  • (a) Facilitate the preparation of national communications in the countries of the region through exchange of experiences and discussions on the preparation of initial communications from non-Annex I Parties;
  • (b) Exchange information on other topics of regional concern, such as progress on activities implemented jointly (AIJ); and
  • (c) Discuss possible regional mechanisms to facilitate exchange of information and views on the implementation of UNFCCC in the region, including discussing a regional network to facilitate access to the latest scientific, technological, research-related, and institutional information.

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3. Seminar proceedings

4. The Seminar commenced with an opening address by Ms. Michiko Ishii, the Director-General of the Environment Agency and State Minister of Japan. Ms. Ishii was followed by welcoming speeches by Messrs. Ken Amano, the Governor of Yamanashi Prefecture, Masatomo Kurihara, the Mayor of Fujiyoshida City, and Dr. Rezaul Karim, representative of ESCAP. Mr. Aca Sugandhy, Assistant Minister of State for Environment, Indonesia delivered the keynote address entitled "Recent progress on the implementation of UNFCCC in Indonesia." The Seminar then elected Professor Kazu Kato (Japan) as Chairperson, Messrs. Aca Sugandhy (Indonesia) and Murray Ward (New Zealand) as Vice-chairpersons, and Ms. Christine Zumkeller (UNFCCC Secretariat) as Secretary.

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4. General views

5. To date, many developed countries have made insufficient progress to meet targets to cut back GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Participants, thus, urged Annex I Parties to intensify efforts to fulfill commitments.

6. Participants considered it crucial that the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP3) agree on a protocol or another legal instrument in fulfillment of the Berlin Mandate. Considering the outcome of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Environment and Development (UNGASS), participants hoped that Annex I Parties would agree upon significant reduction targets of GHG emissions at COP3. Consequently, they expressed the wish that Japan, as the host country of COP3, take concrete initiatives as soon as possible, hopefully before the seventh session of the Ad Hoc Group on Berlin Mandate (AGBM 7), which could build the platform for future consensus.

7. Many participants from non-Annex I Party countries reiterated that international support would be necessary to effectively implement preparations for national communications and other obligations under the Convention. Recognizing that all Parties should try to meet the objectives of the Convention, participants stressed the importance of further international cooperation. Consequently, they welcomed steps already taken by Japan and the U.S. in conducting national studies to assist non-Annex I Parties to meet their reporting obligations. They also welcomed the Green Initiative proposed by Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto and the statement made by U.S. President Clinton at UNGASS on substantial increases to funding for non-Annex I Parties. Both these initiatives were felt to be significant to developing countries. Participants noted that the countries in the region have been steadily implementing the Convention. These countries will also make further efforts to prepare national communications and to develop, where appropriate, national plans or strategies to address climate change issues. To this end, participants believed that the following concrete actions would be useful and would enhance cooperation between Annex I and non-Annex I Parties.

8. Participants stressed that it is essential to promote public awareness and public campaigns for climate protection. All stakeholders should be encouraged to participate in these kinds of activities. Media, environmental NGOs, and other actors could play key roles in implementing these activities effectively and efficiently. Collaboration should be sought with environmental journalist forums in different countries in addition to the Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists.

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5. Preparation of national communications

9. Participants noted with appreciation the information provided by the UNFCCC Secretariat, GEF, UNDP, IPCC/OECD, and UNEP/IETC. They welcomed accelerating the process for GEF to consider and approve activity projects. Further clarification was provided to enhance understanding of this mechanism. It was felt that clear communication about GEF procedures and GEF in general was importance for developing countries.

10. Participants noted the considerable progress made in the region on GHG inventories, vulnerability assessments, national communications, and establishing national institutional mechanisms. They also expressed appreciation for the multilateral and bilateral support provided to non-Annex I Parties for national studies and national communications. However, it was pointed out that annual GHG inventory data was not necessary for non-Annex I Parties. It is recommended that appropriate scientific bodies such as IPCC should be further consulted to help establish the frequency for providing GHG inventory data.

11. Participants recognized the need for capacity building and the need for further assistance to non-Annex I Parties to meet the obligations. Furthermore, they recommended that the following actions be taken.

  • Enhance exchange of experiences on national communications through, inter alia, regional workshops and organized training activities;
  • Initiate and increase use of regional experts and expertise to implement projects;
  • Maintain close communication with scientific communities for latest information and promote systematic and comprehensive assessment of possible impacts of climate change; and
  • Exchange experiences on vulnerability assessments and further develop methodologies appropriate for the region (participants felt the need for bilateral projects on adaptation measures).

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6. Activities implemented jointly (AIJ)

12. Participants noted that significant opportunities exist for AIJ projects. Some countries have been active in promoting AIJ; however, only a few countries in the region have approved AIJ projects to date. One reason for this small number is the lack of understanding of AIJ, both in government agencies and the private sector. It was pointed out that, initially, AIJ must be strongly promoted through national seminars and workshops for various stakeholders such as government agencies, the business community, and NGOs. It was felt that COP decisions, particularly Decision 5 of COP1, should be strictly followed when promoting AIJ projects.

13. Capacity building in both investor and host countries is crucial for promoting AIJ. Institutional mechanisms, such as inter-agency committees to approve AIJ projects, need to be established. Transparent procedures for approving AIJ projects are also essential for promoting AIJ. Training at the national and regional levels is important to ensure appropriate development, monitoring, verification, reporting, and review of AIJ projects.

14. A clearinghouse mechanism needs to be developed to facilitate communication among investor and host countries and potential project proponents. Such communication could also be promoted through multinational corporations and

15. The process to develop AIJ projects should be clearly identified. Participants noted with appreciation the steps proposed by Indonesia and the project development and evaluation process presented by the United States Initiative for Joint Implementation (USIJD). Many participants pointed out the need to conduct feasibility studies before proceeding to AIJ projects. It was emphasized that technical support is required for developing AIJ project proposals in host countries.

16. Methodological issues such as baseline emissions calculations, monitoring, verification, and evaluation of AIJ projects require further definition and clarification. Participants welcomed the initiatives taken by the UNFCCC Secretariat for resolving such problems.

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7. Regional cooperation on climate change in Asia and the Pacific

17. Participants welcomed information on activities concerning climate change in the region provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), ESCAP, UNEP/ROAP, and UNDP. They made note of the project on Regional Network on Climate Change, which was undertaken jointly by ESCAP, the Environment Agency of Japan and UNU, and also welcomed ESCAP's plan to organize an expert group meeting.

18. Participants received a draft questionnaire from the Environment Agency of Japan to prepare a consolidated report on the status of Convention implementation by countries in the region. They agreed to comment on and cooperate with this questionnaire survey.

Regional information network on climate change

19. Participants strongly expressed the need for a coordinated approach to enhance the access to and usefulness of information.

20. There are many existing information networks that are or could potentially be related to climate change, such as ECO-ASIA NET, AIT's database, maESTro, APEC Virtual Center for Environmental Technology Exchange, the United States Country Studies Program (USCSP), etc. It is necessary to make the best use of existing networks so that new institution would not be required.

21. The respective roles and functions of global and regional information networks on climate change should be further elaborated so they would be compatible with and complementary to each other. Particular attention should be paid to CC:INFO/Web.

22. Various activities related to climate change have been and are planned to be undertaken in this region. Any gaps and duplications in existing programs and activities should be further addressed. As a step in developing a regional information network on climate change suited to the needs of the Asian and Pacific region, a directory (inventory) of such activities should be prepared to clarify who is doing what. It was hoped that a report of the progress for the directory would be submitted at the next Asia Pacific Seminar. Participants appreciated the willingness of the Environment Agency of Japan and UNU, through the Global Environmental Information Center (GEIC), to take the lead on this matter.

23. Possible objectives of the regional information network are to facilitate (i) information exchange concerning, inter alia, programs and projects, (ii) policy dialogue and consultations, (iii) public awareness raising and education, and (iv) access to opportunity for environmentally sound technologies (EST). A single database may not be sufficient to meet these objectives.

24. It was suggested that the regional information network should (i) provide information on national focal points, national GHG inventories, national communications, AIJ, public campaigns and education, possible funding sources, etc. and (ii) serve as a clearinghouse to enable easy access to scientific and technical information relating to environmentally sound mitigation and adaptation technologies.

25. Target groups for the regional information network should be clearly defined. A major target group would be policy makers, but other groups such as the scientific and business communities or NGOs may also be included in the scope.

26. Various means of information exchange and communication, such as Internet, CD and FD, and other traditional means such as newsletters and seminars and workshops, may be used for the regional information network. The possibility of creating regional focal point(s) could also be explored.

International cooperation by local governments

27. Participants noted with appreciation the presentations made by Yamanashi Prefecture and Fujiyoshida City on their activities and campaigns to address climate change issues. These exemplary activities should be replicated at all levels of government. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI: Asia and Pacific Secretariat, Japan Office) briefed the participants on their recent initiatives to promote climate protection measures that could be taken by local governments. ICLEI's local initiatives include Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Asia and Pacific Campaign and Guidelines for Local Action Plans for Climate Protection in the region. Participants welcomed these local level actions in view of the crucial role local governments could play in initiating and sustaining community-based actions concerning climate change. Participants expressed their wish to be kept informed of future progress on this front.

28. In view of the very encouraging developments reported to the Seminar and the great potential such local actions might have in advancing national climate protection measures, participants in general agreed to the following.

  • (a) Experience gained by some leading local governments through implementing locally based campaigns related to climate change should be shared with other local governments in the region, e.g., through the proposed regional information network.
  • (b) Direct cooperation and collaboration among local authorities in the region to address climate change issues should be further promoted. In this respect, the role of leading local governments and ICLEI is essential.
  • (c) National governments should encourage and support local governments to initiate appropriate local level actions.

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8. Future modality and functions of the Seminar

29. Participants considered that the Seminar been playing a positive role and fulfilling necessary functions since the first meeting in 1991, prior to the enactment of the Convention, and noted with satisfaction that the Seminar should generally keep its present arrangements but could be reinforced after COP3. It was suggested that broader participation in future meetings be considered to involve more stakeholders including representatives from business communities, environmental NGOs, local governments, and other forums.

30 It was recommended that the outcome of this Seminar be widely publicized.

31. Participants welcomed a proposal to hold the Eighth Asia Pacific Seminar on Climate Change sometime in late 1998 in Thailand with the cooperation with the Royal Thai Government and ESCAP.

Fujiyoshida, July 10, 1997

Kazu Kato
Chairperson
The Seventh Asia-Pacific Seminar on Climate Change
Professor, Nagoya University

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