Environment Congress for Asia and the Pacific
(Eco-Asia '91)

4-5, July, 1991

Declaration & Report

  1. Preface
  2. Congress Overview
  3. Declaration
  4. Summary of Plenary Sessions
  5. Summary of Working Group I Discussions of
  6. Summary of Working Group II Discussions of
  7. Programme
  8. List of Participants

July 4 & 5,1991
Tokyo, Japan
Environment Agency of Japan
Tokyo Metropolitan Government
<Co - organizers>
ÆON Group Environment Foundation
Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC)
Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF)
<Supported by>
Ministry Of Foreign Affairs
The Japan Committee for Global Environment
Global Environment Forum (GEF)
Overseas Environmental Cooperation Center, Japan (OECC)

1. Preface

Kazuo Aichi
Minister of State,
Director-General, Environment Agency
Minister of State in Charge of Global
Environmental Problems

2. Overview of the Congress

3. Declaration

4. Summary of the Plenary Sessions

5. Summary of Working Group I Discussion on

  1. Technology Transfer
    There was general agreement on the need for technology transfer although there were many opinions about how technology transfer is supposed to occur. The discussion may be summarized in five broad, and somewhat overlapping categories: (1.1) organizations for technology transfer; (1.2) training; (1.3) technology transfer assistance fund; (1.4) direct investments and technology transfer, and (1.5) summary of the different attitudes of participants.

    1. Organizations for technology transfer
      Many people praised the recent announcement to establish the UNEP International Center for Environment Technology in Shiga Prefecture and Osaka. Similarly, it was mentioned that a second center in Japan for environmental technology transfer has been initiated between industry and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), that ESCAP has started a center far environmental technology in Bangalore, India, and that the new South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) will focus on technology transfer as one of its roles.

      The missions of these various organizations, and others like them that may exist or are being planned, are not clearly specified, and may include personnel training, identification and characterization of harmful or appropriate technologies, market studies, monitoring of previous or ongoing technology transfers, acquisition and diffusion of intellectual property rights, preferential or specialty financing, etc. In addition, Japan's Environment Agency and ODA program are working to establish new national environmental research centers in other countries to support those countries' environmental regulatory agencies. The first of these are in China and Indonesia, respectively. The intergovernmental organizations in the region, including ESCAP, can assist the organizations conducting these various activities to communicate and interact.

    2. Training
      Training of personnel is thought to be an especially important way to improve the effectiveness of technology transfer. Indeed, training seems to be the initial focus of the two new centers in Japan, the UNEP Environmental Technology Center and the joint industry-MlTI center. In addition, universities and companies both provide useful existing facilities for training.

    3. Technology transfer assistance fund
      Several participants urged the establishment of a mechanism to provide technology at preferential or favourable terms. Although the working group did not have time to elaborate this idea, there were two variants in this idea. One possibility would be the creation of a special fund that would acquire technology (presumably as intellectual property rights) and make it available on favourable terms to poor countries. Another possibility would be the creation of a specialized development finance institution (perhaps like the specialized technology development banks supported by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank) which would assist in the identification and selection and financing, at confessional terms, of environmental technologies.

    4. Direct investments and technology transfer
      Technology transfer, comprising equipment and know-how is accomplished not simply by the acquisition of patents and intellectual property, but by the efforts of participating enterprises. Therefore, direct investments, often in the form of joint ventures, are one of the major channels for technology transfer. The environmental impact of direct investments have typically not been monitored, or subject to environmental guidelines. This may be changing. Keidanren and various NGOs have proposed guidelines for the activities of multinationals, activities which would include technology transfer. But as mere guidelines, they still lack systematic measures to hold enterprises accountable, such as monitoring and performance disclosure requirements.

    5. Additional remarks
      Many people urged the transfer of new technologies and the restraint of the transfer of those technologies that are obsolete or environmentally inferior to others that are available. For effective technology transfer, training of operating personnel is especially important. Indeed, technology can not be thought of as mere equipment, but rather as a system, a system including the rules of operation of the facility and the management and regulatory standards of the facility. Other people mentioned that technology transfer is not a one-way street from highly industrialized countries to less industrialized ones, but rather, there are many opportunities for bilateral exchange, and for exchange among developing countries. The agents involved in the exchange are not simply countries, but generally enterprises within those countries, and therefore partnership may be a mare fitting concept than mere transfer.

      Harmonization of environmental standards may assist smooth technology transfer, and make it easier for enterprises and governments to identify suitable technologies.

      Related to technology transfer is the need for countries to develop indigenous and appropriate technologies. Japan's environment agency offered to assist in these activities.

      Two examples of such grass-roots initiatives from Japan were mentioned, one by the Japanese International Association for Mangroves which is working to protect and re-establish mangrove forests in tropical regions, and another by the Japan Volunteer Center, an NGO that dispatches youth overseas on rural development projects.

      The stress on rural and appropriate technologies by some Japanese participants was echoed by others in developing countries. Specifically, research on and the dissemination of the know-how concerning low input sustainable agriculture is essential for ensuring and enhancing the long-term productivity of lands in the Asian and Pacific region.

      Developing and developed countries have mutual responsibilities concerning, on the one hand, the transfer and promotion of environmentally-friendly technologies, and on the other hand, the restraint of the transfer of obsolete or environmentally- inferior technologies. Several participants urged developed countries to monitor and report technologies transferred, and to restrict those that are environmentally harmful The monitoring of direct investment was recommended, and may be implicitly urged but is not required under the guidelines for corporal activity adopted by Keidanren. Further, where exports from resource-based industries in developing countries are criticized for causing environmental degradation, developed countries and trading companies, as importers, have responsibilities for the impacts of their consumption. Japanese participants advocating this, including Japan's former ambassador to Britain, generally spoke in a modest manner of the need for "enterprises to practice self- discipline."

      In summary, there are roles for various actors in technology transfer. Intergovernmental organizations appear prepared to coordinate activities of various training and technology transfer organizations in the region. Development banks' efforts to promote sustainable development may include specialty financing of technology transfer among their new activities. National governments may assist the formation of new organizations. However, mindful of existing organizations for training, finance, etc., it may be more important to strengthen the environmental technology transfer aspects of their current activities. Community organizations and NGOs also have important roles in monitoring technology transfer and disseminating information, and in hands-on grass-roots development projects.

  2. New Financial Mechanisms

    1. The need to integrate environmental considerations into development and development finance
      The context for this discussion was set by opening remarks by Mr. K. Tarumizu, the President of the Asian Development Bank He remarked that "few of us have let this important issue [of environmental change) fully penetrate our minds ... [and that we] may require a re-thinking of the relationship between nature and people." He spoke positively of the need to strengthen domestic financing of environmental protection agencies and also of new mechanisms for multilateral financial assistance including special environmental funds, and debt-for-nature swaps.

      The deputy director of ESCAP mentioned highlights of the recent ESCAP general assembly including the claim that it is the moral responsibility of the rich countries to ensure that financial resources are available for environmental protection in poor countries. Indeed, many remarks by several participants concerning financial mechanisms were prefaced by comments placing the blame for much environmental change on developed countries.
      Undoubtedly this is true for many issues, including climate change, but the burden of responsibility for, several issues, and even climate change, is shifting more and more to the Asian region. Thiefec, it is important to think of how to act from now on. In this respect, a recently completed study from Japan provided a concrete lesson. The report (by the Study Group for Global Environment and Economics at the Japan Environment Agency) showed that the costs of compensation and clean-up expenses of pollution incidents in Japan exceeded the costs of the pollution control investments. According to the study, the tragedy of the Japanese experience was not just the irreversible damages caused, but that in addition it cost Japan more to cleanup and compensate after than if preventive measures had been adopted initially.
      Although this is not a new idea, the recent study underscored the economic folly of neglecting pollution prevention. However desirable, useful, and just international development finance may be, even without it, countries will save money by investing in pollution prevention.

    2. New financial mechanisms
      Many participants requested a new regional facility, or a new loan window existing finance institutions, so that additional finance, explicitly for environmental projects can be provided. The Asian Development Bank did not announce any new fund for environmental activities, although its current efforts are substantial. It is actively supporting studies and strategies for sustainable development in countries and at a sub-regional level within the Asian and Pacific Region, and impact studies of climate change.

      ESCAP proposed the establishment of environmental levies on various kinds of "environmentally unfriendly" production and consumption to serve as an incentive to change the behavior of industry and consumers and accrue financial resources. The regional Commission also urged the establishment of additional grants and low-interest loans, with a greater emphasis on grants, for supporting environmental projects.

      There were repeated requests for new, additional, and adequate financial resources for sustainable development, a request that few can disagree with, but which remains rather vague. One specific suggestion that is being addressed by the bilateral and multilateral development assistance programs, and needs continuing emphasis, is the finance of safe water supply. Water supply and sewage treatment facilities need to be established, in rural and urban areas, so that people in the region can have safe water and so that environmental damage from sewage runoff can be reduced.

    3. Specific and practical short-term suggestions
      The following specific suggestions for support would be useful in preparation for UNCED '92. These we pragmatic suggestions and were endorsed in general terms in relevant paragraphs in the Declaration of the Congress.
      1. Finance the activities of sub- regional groups like SPREP to preps studies on behalf of the region and to attend conferences preparing for UNCED such as the Aug. 199 l third UNCED preparatory committee meeting (PrepComm).
      2. Finance the activities of NGOs likewise to prepare materials, submit reports and send representatives to the PrepComm meetings and UNCED.

    4. New Mechanisms of International Cooperation

      1. Context
        The tone of this topic was framed by two profound comments, one mentioned just below, and the other at the end of this section. To look ahead, one needs a sense of history. To look far ahead, one needs a suitably long historical vantage point. The setting of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in the year 1992 comes on the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Columbus, and thus marks the past five hundred years of western modernization. A type of modernization which, in this century, has swept over much of the world. What sorts of international cooperation will assist human civilization to continue another five hundred years? What sorts of societies will enable that to occur?

        This sub-topic of new mechanisms overlapped to some dept with the discussions of technology transfer and finance. To avoid repetition, the points summarized below are those relating to new organizations or international action, and specific epics of environmental change. Though the title of this sub-topic was "new" mechanisms, many participants urged the strengthening of existing legal instruments, organizations, and other mechanisms of cooperation.

      2. Environmental charters or agreements
        One of the first suggestions was that of a regional charter for the environment, which would be a complement e an international charter planned for the UNCED, with more specific focus on the issues pertinent to the Asian and Pacific region.

        Similar to this charter, or perhaps as a supporting document, some participants, concerned about biodiversity and tropical forests, including mangroves, recommended an agreement on forest management and forest products trade in the region. Opinions of the participants were divided over the strength such a document might take: some participants from supplier countries wanted only a mere statement of concern, while others from consuming countries suggested a stronger, legally binding document. The Japanese Ambassador Akao mentioned, however, that if the forestry charter were negotiated at a global level as part of the UNCED, Japan would recommend as a first step a general statement of principle.

        The discussion of shared responsibility of suppliers and consumers, referred to earlier under technology transfer, was mentioned concerning a regional agreement on forests. A participant from the Philippines, which is suffering vast mangrove destruction, told of how the mangrove forests are being converted into shrimp farms, the output of which is exported primarily to Japan. A strong convention on forests, particularly at a regional level, may need to consider the possibility of mutual control by the suppliers and the consumers.

        A participant from Malaysia complained that some countries have initiated unilateral actions which hurt countries that export wood products. Malaysia would prefer coordination through the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). Malaysia's request to the ITTO for an objective study of Malaysia's forest management and deforestation problems was noted as a worthy example of international cooperation. Despite the ITTO's good efforts, a remark was also made as to why the ITTO is waiting until the year 2000 before it hopes to have all topical timber produced from sustainable forests.

        These many issues reveal that gaining consensus on an agreement on forests would take considerable diplomatic initiative and effort on the put of all countries in the region. Such an effort would be one exemplary sign of new international cooperation.

      3. From the grass-roots
        Environmental charters were also proposed as a pragmatic step in local education, specifically oriented towards the young who make up the bulk of the three billion people population in the Asian and Pacific region. Village charters for nature could be prepared by each school, and supported by curriculum requirements by national and local education authorities. Such activities would provide the roots at a local level that would support the UNCED's proposed Earth Charter.

      4. SPREP
        The new efforts and ambitions of the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP) were mentioned and welcome It will be a coordinating body for small island states in the Pacific to promote climate change impact studies, identify technologies needed in the region, develop policy positions for the nations concerned, and represent the member countries in specialized meetings on environment.

      5. Population
        The rise in population in the Asian and Pacific region over the next 35 years is awesome, a rise from 3.1 billion persons to 4.8 billion. The consequences will be many, not least being the need to provide for the poor and the youth, who will make up the majority. International cooperation to provide safe water and the basis for local food production, and education for the one to two billion poorest people in Asia is as essential and urgent as efforts to provide couples the means to plan their family size.

        Though population will rise most in developing countries, the high rates of natural resource consumption in the developed countries give strong reason to limit or reduce population even in developed countries. Several participants euphemistic ally called for modesty in consumption.

      6. Climate change
        A regional framework for climate change was urged by same participants. If a framework is eventually obtained, its success will depend in part on the transition period between now and the time actions required under a framework would take place. In this interim period, the efforts of researchers in the region, supported by the ADB, other intergovernmental organizations, and national research budgets, will provide a deeper understanding of the nature of and impacts of climate change. Research cooperation has already begun, and more is planned.

      7. Media
        The new association of environmental journalists in Japan was welcomed, and encouraged to interact with the Asian-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists which is supported by ESCAP.

      8. Closing remark
        This working group on new institutional arrangements for international cooperation had a large task, and a long range vision appropriate for the task. That vision was captured in one Chinese saying mentioned by one of the participants.
        "If you are going to think 1 year ahead, plant rice.
        If you are going to think 10 years ahead, plant trees.
        If you are going to think 100 years ahead, educate the people."

6. Summary of Working Group II Discussion on

  1. The term "eco-industrial revolution" proved difficult to define with any precision, but many valuable ideas, insights and proposals were put forth nonetheless. Perhaps the most significant issue regarding which there was some conflict of opinion dealt with reconciling the need to protect the environment with the need [desire?] of LDCs for further industrial development in order to improve their people's standard of living.

  2. However, there was broad consensus on many of the basic components of the necessary "eco-industrial revolution":

    1. Wide agreement on the basic urgency of the problems we face and of the immediate need for cooperation to find solutions [but it could be said that perceptions of the degree of urgency, and of which problems are the most urgent, often differs depending on the level of development of the speaker's country.]

      1. Population growth, global warming, poverty, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, acid rain, export of pollution from DCs to LDCs, were some of the most serious problems noted as facing the countries of the Asia/Pacific.

      2. There was furthermore broad agreement that solving these problems will require the cooperation of North and South, of governments, the business sector, NGOs and individuals. Many environmental problems are worldwide in scope. We can no longer afford to view each other as adversaries or competitors in the preservation of our planet.

    2. Energy: It was noted by several speakers that many of the environmental and social crises now confronted by both individual countries (developed and less developed), and the planet as a whole, are tied directly or indirectly to the issue of energy choices.

      1. Many agreed that if the concept of sustainable development is to have any meaning, polluting sources of energy such as coal and nuclear energy must be regarded as transitional, toward the eventual situation where virtually all energy is derived from sustainable sources.

      2. Promising examples of renewable energy: hydropower, plant-based fuels (Brazil), solar, wind. Many of these are economically competitive with fossil fuels even now.

      3. Two other crucial components of any strategy toward sustainable development of the energy sector include increases in the energy efficiency of industrial processes, and increased recycling of both raw materials and waste, leading eventually to the ideal of an entirely closed production process.

    3. Economic Reform: several participants pointed out the urgent need to reform the basic economic principles underlying environmental policy decisions.

      1. Under the current economic paradigm, we perversely view the consumption of our fixed stock of planetary "capital" as the generation of income.

      2. Must reform pricing of commodities and energy so that the market properly reflects their teal costs. One promising-sounding method involves the creation of a "sustainability index" which would actually measure the level of sustainability of a given economic activity so as to ensure that economic costs are not treated as income.

      3. Excessively low prices in DCs for petroleum-based fuels such as gasoline were cited as one type of environmentally destructive economic distortion, while some LDCs for their part came under criticism for subsidizing the sue of polluting energy sources such as coal.

      4. Many participants were impressed with the important study recently published by the Japanese Environment Agency showing that the benefits of crying out policies to prevent the occurrence of environmentally-related health damage to citizens far outweigh, even in a purely economic sense, the costs of such policies. It was hoped that this study would serve to focus the attention of LDCs on the economic sense of taking action e prevent environmental damage before it occurs rather than simply waiting for a disaster e happen and cleaning it up afterward.

      5. It was also noted that environmental problems are often exacerbated by the prevalent short-term focus of capital markets, which must be encouraged (or forced) to take a longer-term perspective.

    4. Technology Transfers and Other Assistance

      1. One aspect of the "eco-industrial revolution" regarding which there was unanimous agreement concerns the need for DCs to provide LDCs with cutting edge technology for the mitigation of pollution, so that they may avoid experiencing the high levels of pollution suffered by many developed countries during their own processes of development.

      2. A major issue which arose in the discussion, however, concerned the terms on which this technology should be transferred. Several participants from LDCs pointed out that they often found themselves in the Catch-22 situation of needing to destroy their environment in order to obtain the foreign exchange to purchase the technology to protect it. They noted the inherent conflict between the interests of the creators of the technology, who are usually private parries seeking a fair return on their costs of developing the technology, and the interests of the recipient countries, who want very much to use the technology but lack the financial means to acquire it.

      3. There was also full agreement among the working group that whatever technology is provided should be properly tailored to the needs and level of development of the recipient country. (India: couldn't use incinerator technology because quality of garbage wasn't high enough.)

      4. Many members mentioned the necessity of including in any technology transfer the proper "software", such as any accompanying intellectual property rights, as well as providing adequate training of the people who will use the technology.

      5. Other possibly important farms of assistance mentioned include the creation of (1) regional technical cents perhaps modeled on the technology center recently established by UNEP, and (2) international databases or clearinghouses of technical data and other information.

    5. Equity
      Though not relating directly to the notion of an "eco-industrial revolution", the issue which probably aroused the strongest statements in the discussion was the need for equity. This concept of equity, which was advocated by several participants, took two basic forms.

      1. Equity among nations

        1. DCs should look at the issues from LDCs' perspective, focus as much on the need for development as the need for environmental protection.

        2. Sang feeling among many participants from both DCs and LDCs that LDCs ac being unfairly asked by DCs to bear the most of the burden of dealing with our global environmental problems, even though it is the actions of the DCs themselves which have caused the vast majority of the problems in the first place.

        3. Consensus among LDC participants that DCs should provide technology transfers and other assistance at an affordable price, or should provide enough financial assistance e make it realistic for LDCs to purchase it.

        4. We must also recognize that it is inappropriate under basic principles of fairness for DCs to permit their industries to "export" pollution to LDCs having looser environmental standards or lacking the ability to adequately enforce environmental regulations. Uniform international standards are required to prevent LDCs from being forced to seek scarce foreign exchange by offering their shores as dumping pounds for the richer developed countries. Such uniform standards would also assist policymakers in developed countries with relatively strict environmental controls who face the continuous threat of losing jobs to countries with more lax environmental controls.

        5. Ultimately, it was strongly argued, equity among nations will not be achieved simply by developed countries giving cash handouts to less developed ones, but through fair trade at reasonable prices, free from the tariffs, trade restrictions and other distortions imposed by developed nations. Such barriers often prevent resource-rich but relatively undeveloped nations from earning a fair return on the natural resources which may constitute the main or sole source of their export earnings.

      2. Equity among generations: Finally, we must realize that "we do not inherit the earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children" For our children's sake, as well as that of the millions of other species of living things sharing our planet with us, we must act now to radically reform our habits and practices before it is too late.

7. Programme

8. List of Participants