21 June & 22 June, 1994
1. CONGRESS BACKGROUND
The region's current economic growth and development are expected to continue well into the 21st; century. However, it has not been shown that they will be truly sustainable, nor is it clear exactly how the environment will be protected. Many questions also remain unanswered as to the impact of this economic expansion on the global environment. Between 1985 and 2025 the region's population is expected to increase by about 50%, urbanization will grow and energy consumption is likely to triple. This picture of the future is extremely disturbing.
As such, it is considered necessary to seek out appropriate strategies for equitable and sustainable futures for Asia-Pacific that do not destroy or degrade the region's natural ecosystems and the resources that they provide. They should also be linked to similar global policies and practices, and fully and effectively implemented.
The work of environmental policy-makers in Asian-Pacific countries is becoming increasingly important, as they are expected to play a pivotal role in determining priority issues for the region and examining the most appropriate future directions for both intra- regional and international cooperation.
If cooperation on sustainable development is to be advanced, then it is essential that policy-makers share a common understanding of the relationship between the region's current economic situation and its natural environment, as well as the future outlook. This requires the collection and analysis of large amounts of information.
To this end, the Environment Agency of Japan sponsored the ministerial-level congresses ECO ASIA '91 and ECO ASIA '93, held respectively the year prior to and the year after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). The first; of these congresses produced contributions to the Summit., while the latter pursued directions and methods for regional cooperation aimed at implementing the. agreements reached during the Summit.
ECO ASIA '94 provided a forum for discussions of the role of people in the Asia- Pacific region in attaining sustainable development. These discussions covered the current state of environmental protection and economic development, in Asia-Pacific, as well as the future of cooperation schemes. The Congress also aims to contribute to the development of new work on global environmental conservation, so there was a presentation and discussion on the progress of the ECO ASIA project, "A Long-term Perspective on Environment and Development in the Asia-Pacific Region", which was welcomed by the participants of ECO ASIA '93. It is expected that the results of this project will be part of the input from Asia-Pacific to the 1997 United Nations General Assembly which will conduct. an overall review and appraisal of Agenda 21.
ECO ASIA '94 Congress participants included senior officials from 17 governments including 5 ministers, plus representatives from 10 international organizations and many other guests. Their involvement in ECO ASIA will contribute to the promotion of environmental conservation throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
ECO ASIA '94 was chaired by H. E. Ms. Toshiko Hamayotsu, Minister of State, Director-General of Environment Agency, Minister of State in charge of Global Environmental Problems, Japan.
"Global and Regional Initiatives for Sustainable Development".
"The Role of Asia and the Pacific in UNCED follow-up".
Clearly, each nation must make its own independent efforts to achieve sustainable development, but coordination within the region will help ensure such efforts are more efficient and effective. The creation of a framework for cooperation which transcends national interests is essential.
In this session views were exchanged on the following topics:
"The Status Quo and the task of Asia and the Pacific".
In this session, the following topics were discussed:
There were three major issues of concern in this session.
(A) The Project "A Long-term Perspective on Environment and
Development in the Asia-Pacific Region"
If regional cooperation on environmental protection is to be pursued, it is vital that decision-makers in Asia and the Pacific share an awareness of the issues involved. It was for this reason that the Long- term Perspective project was proposed by the Environment Agency of Japan at ECO ASIA '93. The proposal was welcomed by Congress participants.
The project's basic guidelines were discussed by relevant experts from around the region at a workshop held in Tokyo during March 1994. However, it was realized that if the project is to proceed to a more useful stage much greater discussion by policy-makers, researchers and others was needed.
Urbanization is having an extreme impact on the Asian-Pacific environment and its human inhabitants. According to the World Bank, over half the population of east Asia will live in urban areas by the year 2005. Such rapid urbanization is the cause of a variety of social and economic problems as well as human and industrial waste disposal problems that degrade the human living environment and produce serious land, air and water pollution. An effective response to this situation is imperative.
(C) The Role of Local Government
Environmental problems can be tackled at individual, local, national, regional and/or global levels. The capacity to solve regional and global problems is highly dependent on efforts at the individual and local levels.
For example, the devastating industrial pollution that occurred in Japan from the 1950s to the 1970s was largely alleviated by the great efforts and initiatives of local governments. This in turn lead to an improvement in industrial pollution levels nationwide. In the same way, countering climatic changes and other global environmental problems is dependent on sure but steady progress at the local level. It is the local governments who are able to implement these measures most effectively.
This session discussed the following:
The summaries of these sessions should be read in conjunction with the report of ECO ASIA '93, as quite a few of the discussions (such as that on 'sustainable development'), issues, problems and recommendations made at that Congress are also relevant to the discussions of ECO ASIA '94.
3. OPENING SPEECHES
In their addresses, both speakers pointed out that current environmental problems have wide-reaching effects-from daily, personal issues to matters of global consequence, and from us here now on to future generations. They emphasized the need for all people to take positive cooperative action to tackle these problems and create sustainable development.
Dr. Ichiro Kamoshita said that, "Finding appropriate responses for dealing with those problems is now recognized as a crucial issue for the very basis of human existence. What we should be doing now, two years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janiero, is to be implementing action plans for sustainable development and ensuring that every one of us plays a part."
He noted that the complexity of the problems in the Asia-Pacific region requires that we "move beyond the conventional regulatory approach and adopt a more varied approach, which would include economic instruments and provision of environmental education. It is considered essential that individuals, not only the national government, participate in environmental action. It is, therefore, extremely important that the national government cooperates with local people, nongovernmental organizations and local governments."
H. E. Mr. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya expressed his gratitude for the gathering of so many people from Asia and the Pacific region for ECO ASIA.
He said," Humanity is ready to cooperatively move towards solutions to environmental problems, and I believe that the time has come for us to confront environmental issues without being bound by borders between nations, race or ideologies."
He gave the experience of Saitama Prefecture as an example of local initiatives that could be taken to counter the problems created by rapid population growth and urbanization. It adopted its own environmental charter, and has been working to establish local environmental protection regulations and prepare a long-term environmental protection plan. Last year the prefecture also became a member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).
The words of H. E. Ms. Toshiko Hamayotsu expressed the underlying philosophy of both speakers. "I believe that solving environmental problems is to protect human life and health as well as Nature beyond national and generational boundaries. By appreciating the majesty of Nature as well as understanding human life and health, surely people can look beyond the borders around them to take a long term view of the future and work together for the sake of mankind."
Both speakers hoped that ECO ASIA would encourage understanding and cooperation for environmental protection, especially in the Asian-Pacific region.
Two keynote speeches were presented. The first was by Saburo Kawai, a member of the High-level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development of the United Nations. He spoke on "Recent International Trends with regard to Sustainable Development.". The second was by H. E. Mr. Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, Indonesia's Minister of State for Environment, who spoke on "Global and Regional Initiatives in Sustainable Development.".
Mr. Kawai's presentation included an overview of the international issues directly related to, and influencing, global environmental problems.
The first such issue is the increasing difficulty in coping with the burgeoning impacts of human activities. He saw population growth being at the base of this problem, in particular creating a critical situation with food supply. The current world population of 5.5 billion is expected to increase by another 3 billion by the year 2025. With most of this increase to occur in the developing countries, it is expected that there will be severe food shortages as population growth exceeds regional production levels. The reliance on industrial countries for food supplies will deepen.
Related to population growth is the problem of urbanization. Over half the world's population is expected to live in cities by the end of this century, and over 60% by 2025, it is also predicted that, by the end of this century, eight, of the world's ten largest cities will be located in developing countries. Expansion of the infrastructure-particularly sewerage systems, waste disposal facilities and transportation systems-in these cities not keeping pace with growth and fears are held that urban populations will explode and air and water pollution become more severe.
If these people follow the "wasteful urban lifestyles and consumption modes of Japan, Europe, America and other industrialized nations", then "CO. output would skyrocket, inevitably having a major effect on global warming". Continuing growth in per capita consumption of energy and other natural resources is another cause of environmental damage. Mr. Kawai reminded participants that, changing their own socioeconomic systems and lifestyles is essential for the creation of sustainable patterns of production and consumption.
Other important issues are the growing international economic interdependence and the disparities between developing and industrialized nations. He said it is still necessary to design a global trade structure that will encourage sustainable development in developing nations, and a multilateral trade system that will make trade and environmental policies mutually supporting. Also, the substantial discrepancy between the per capita Gross Domestic Product of the industrialized and developing nations shows no sign of shrinking, but the gap between their extremes is likely to widen. If the foreign debt of developing nations increases, then there will be less money for tackling poverty and environmental problems.
Many other factors, such as the escalation of regional conflicts, are also important, so if this plethora of social and economic issues and the environmental problems they create are to be solved, major cooperative efforts are needed.
Mr. Kawai said that the United Nations created the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to follow up on achievements made at the Earth Summit, and a High Level Advisory Board, which advises the Secretary General on the activities of the CSD, sustainable development and other matters.
He pointed out that, despite various pro-environment initiatives, there has been a lack of progress in following up on Agenda 21 of the Earth Summit. In particular, the logic of sustainability has still not been clarified. While some of the tools of sustainable development (e.g. renewable energy sources and cleaner production) exist, new courses for future development are necessary - ones different from the earlier developmental models that have created the current environmental problems.
He considered that initiatives that might lead to such new courses, that can be taken in most countries in Asia and the Pacific, and a sustainable future depend on several things.
The first is obtaining a global consensus on what sustainable development is and what a sustainable society will look like. In this regard, Mr. Kusumaatmadja was pleased to note that people are now scrutinizing patterns of production, consumption, energy use and lifestyle. He felt it to be necessary that efforts are made to effectively change those patterns, and to do this the logic of sustainable development has to be understood.
The second is a commitment to equitable distribution of development benefits arising from a universal sense of global responsibility to the environment. This would produce "win-win" situations for all countries.
The third is the recognition of the different nature of environmental concerns between developed industrial nations and developing nations. He pointed out that developing nations are concentrating on institutional and capacity building so they can address national environmental issues. He felt that developed nations have the responsibility for launching new global initiatives, but that they must advance these initiatives in such a way that they can still contribute to assisting the developing nations with their requirements.
Mr. Kusumaatmadja said that in the Asia-Pacific region the delicate nature of the influence on the social and political environment, of economic development has been recognised. He therefore urged that an ECO ASIA workshop analyse the social environment brought about by the economic development.
He also pointed out that political courage and determination are needed to achieve sustainable development by following through on the true meaning of Agenda 21. This would require the introduction of an effective mechanism by restructuring of the organizations dealing with environmental issues.
The Co-ordinator of this session was Professor Akio Morishima of the Law School, Nagoya University.
Panelists described some of the environmental-related problems that the region faces, as well as some of their own experiences in tackling these issues. Suggestions were also made as to initiatives needed in following up on the Earth Summit and moving towards sustainable development, particularly through cooperative action. ECO ASIA was seen to have an important role to play in promoting these initiatives.
H. E. U Ohn Gyaw of Myanmar stated that the Earth Summit's Agenda 21 makes clear the importance of this era in human history, It shows "that humanity now stands at the crossroads. We can either continue old ways which serve to widen the economic gap within and between countries, and which cause the degradation of the ecosystem on which we all depend. Or we can change course..............Our choice must be to change direction and to implement Agenda 21 at the local, national, and international levels."
Many commitments were made at, and since the Earth Summit, to advance institutional and other arrangements for environmental protection and the creation of sustainable development. However, as H. E. Mr. Clifford Lincoln of Canada stated, "The challenge before us is to explore how we can take those commitments and translate them into real and substantial action that leads to real and substantial change."
Mr. Wang Yuqing of China pointed out if cooperative efforts are to be effective in tackling the region's environmental problems, then they must recognize the unique characteristics which underlie them:
Panelists agreed that the Asian-Pacific region have a major role to play in the UNCED follow-up. H. E. Mr. Datuk Law Hieng King of Malaysia expressed the widely held view that "success and failure of the application of the concept of sustainable development will be tested in the region".
He also made the important point that one of the essential factors for the success of sustainable development on a global level is the maintenance of peace throughout the whole planet. Asia-Pacific is considered to have a major role to play in this regard. Directly related to this is the need for the region's nations to improve their understanding of their neighbors' aspirations for economic development and environmental protection. The strong economic linkages between nations and their physical proximity mean that the impacts of one nation's activities is likely to be felt by many others.
Identification is needed of both essential policy changes that will alter the status quo and elements of commonality in issues that allow cooperation. Mr. John Gilbert of New Zealand explained that even though there are strong commonalities between many of the region's environmental problems, "it is equally clear that there will be no one set of regional policy solutions." If progress is to be made on sustainable development then two important principles will need to be followed. "The first is the principle of national responsibility. The second is that of partnership."
In 1991, New Zealand integrated its laws governing land, air and water resources into one piece of legislation that seeks to allow economic use of those resources while guaranteeing their future availability. Mr. Gilbert felt that while this is one example of a country's ability to share new approaches and initiatives, we can still expect to gain much from the sharing of successful experiences in diverse aspects on legislation and administration as well as businesses. He considers that in the two years since UNCED there has been an increase in regional cooperation on environmental matters. This has taken place through the region's many organizations, the sharing of information and experiences between individual nations, and the sharing of "a common recognition that their future economic, social and environmental well-being is intertwined."
Mr. Umezu of Japan commented on the issues of environmental administration Japan has been pursuing and on its cooperation with and contribution to CSD. He reminded us of the variety of nations and races that have taken part in the historical, geographic and economic development of the Asia-Pacific region and pointed out the importance of taking into full account the diversity of the region when promoting regional cooperation. This makes the policy-mix type of approach-in which countries have a process established for sharing their experiences and for combining or selecting aspects of administrative measures described in other countries' experiences-particularly significant for the region.
Overall, it, was clear that participants felt that the Asia-Pacific region has the opportunity and ability to play a substantial role in the promotion of global sustainable development, especially as a model for regional cooperative approaches on environmental protection. This has arisen because the region's rapid economic growth has not only created many environmental problems, but has also generated the financial capacity for tackling them. The region has valuable experiences to offer the world in terms of how environmental problems have been created and solutions handled. These experiences need to be collected and analyzed for use by Asian-Pacific countries as well as other regions.
Reference was made to three projects promoting environmental protection of the Great Mekong Region discussed at the Third Conference on Subregional Economic Cooperation held in Hanoi during April this year. It was felt that projects such as these which encompass institutional strengthening, management of wastes and hazardous substances plus environmental monitoring would be equally useful if applied to the Asia- Pacific region as a whole.
Another potentially useful experience was that of New Zealand, which is finding companies that adopt the principle of 'cleaner production' are able to reduce the environmental impacts of production and service activities as well as save money. This reflects one of the key messages of UNCED - that business needs to employ good environmental practices because their 'bottom line' commercial success will increasingly depend on it.
Panelists felt that ECO ASIA has a critical role to play in the region and should be involved at a variety of levels in a number of activities, including:
6. SESSION 3 - REPORT AND DISCUSSION
H. E. U Ohn Gyaw was the Co-ordinator of this session.
As economic growth in the region continues, new environmental and social problems will arise as the previous social and economic relationships are forced to respond to the changed circumstances, and production and consumption increases. If the trends are allowed to continue, current problems will worsen.
The World Bank illustrated the enormous the expected changes with some simple statistics. If expected trends continue, then by 2010, 85% of all industry will be 'new', as will 70% of all energy demand, while by 2025 the population of just Asian cities will be equal to the current population of all Asia.
Participants mentioned some of the environmental issues whose importance will increase as economic activity expands.
Trade and environment related problems will become prominent, as trade liberalization acquires greater momentum. It is also considered that the World Trade Organization (WTO) will become more involved in trade and environment issues.
The view was expressed by Mr. I. A. Sahibzada of Pakistan that. discussions of trade and environment should neither endorse 'green protectionism' by the north, nor inhibit attempts by countries of the South to conserve their natural resources. Rather, they should be aimed at allowing countries of both North and South to engage in dialogue and consensus-building on environmental conservation, economic. development, and trade liberalization.
The increasing flow of hazardous wastes and materials into the region is developing as a major issue of concern. Papua New Guinea has made an appeal through the South Pacific forum for the tightening of controls on the movement of hazardous wastes into the South Pacific region.
Expanded trade flows in the region will necessitate preparation of strategies to handle oil spills, shipping disasters and improve navigational safety.
The recycling of wastes in the region will grow in importance as production and consumption of all products increases, but it was realized that unnecessary production should not be encouraged.
Forest, management problems, although not new to the region, will continue and expand in some areas as countries use forests as a source of foreign exchange, while local people, especially the poor, exploit them to satisfy their basic needs. Several speakers expressed the need for international assistance in integrating forest conservation efforts into their economic development programs. There was also a call for developed countries to ensure. their logging companies operating in the region's forests obey the relevant laws.
The recent collapse of Canadian fisheries was taken as a warning to countries of the region that they must not be complacent over ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources. They need to act decisively now, rather than waiting for new problems of resource availability and ecosystem failure to appear.
[OBSTACLES TO COOPERATION AND THEIR REMOVAL]
If the region's environmental issues are to be successfully addressed on the scale needed to reverse the current trends, then substantial changes in perspectives and the foci for action are needed. Rather than treating symptoms, countries need to concentrate on the forces that are driving the environmental destruction in the region. These include:
* Export-led growth without sufficient environmental safeguards;
* Unprecedented levels of per capita resource consumption;
* Rapid population growth;
* Inappropriate land use policies; and,
* Inefficient energy policies.
It was recognized that the developed countries need to be aware of, and accept responsibility for, their own inappropriate patterns of development that are damaging the regional and global environment. With 25% of the population, they need to change their excessive lifestyles which are consuming 75% of the world's resources. They should encourage frugality in their own living standards and willingly assist with technology transfer and the sharing of expertise with developing countries. It was pointed out that because of their history they often have great experience to offer in dealing with environmental problems that can be used by other countries in trying to build sustainable societies.
Developing countries need to eliminate poverty and the related environmental destruction, and use the achievements of economic development to improve their environments, as well as to strengthen environmental education and management of natural ecosystems and resources. However, they should not seek to emulate the patterns of the industrialized nations. Mr. Snidvongs of Thailand reminded participants that; developing countries usually face the problem of dual economies - one is a subsistence economy that includes rural people and city poor, the other comprises the urban rich - and the gap between the two is widening. Action for sustainable development must address this problem.
Participants noted many cross-sectorial constraints to achieving the level of cooperation needed to effectively tackle problems in this fashion and implement sustainable development.
Institutional constraints include:
The major technical obstacles relate to:
Lack of finances continues to be a major problem and one that underlies many of the institutional and technical obstacles. It was noted that the funds available to implement Agenda 21 are still meagre. Very little of the $4-5 billion pledged at the Earth Summit has materialized.
Information, Expertise and Technology Transfer
Information exchange was regarded as being critical if the region and its countries are to set objectives in relation to sustainable development and toke suitable actions to achieve those objectives.
The view was expressed that a suitable mechanism for exchange of scientific and technological information and experience has not yet been established. If the objective of information, expertise and technological transfer is to 'enable' the South to advance in its quest for sustainable development, then it should be tailored to the needs of the South. Private companies should not be ignored as a conduit for transferring environmentally sound technologies to their counterparts in developing countries.
Within developing countries, the skills and strategies for sound environmental management are still being developed, and they look to the developed countries for assistance in this regard. The cultivation and development; of regional expertise, with the help of core teams from more advanced countries, particularly in environmental management and planning, would be most useful.
One concern about information transfer was that too many Ministerial level meetings would divert potential resources away from technical meetings that could be used to determine how to tackle basic. problems. More emphasis needs to be given to meetings that encourage action.
It was suggested that the current efforts of the Organization for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD) in trying to expand the distribution of information about the experiences of the advanced industrialized societies might be of interest and use to regional countries. An example of this is the establishment of the Center for European Countries in Transition within the OECD. As well, there has been increased dialogue with dynamic non-member countries, and this is planned to continue. The OECD has also been conducting much multi-disciplinary research that is providing a great deal of data on a variety of areas, such as trade and environment, integration of environmental and economic policies and the impact of future changes in consumption and production.
Participation in Cooperative Activities
The actual ability to participate in international cooperative activities for sustainable development is also an important obstacle that needs to he removed. While it might be assumed that every country in the region is readily able to fully participate, this is not the case.
The inability of NGOs to fully participate in regional activities was addressed by Professor S. Iwasaki of Peoples' Forum 2001. He said that in the Asian-Pacific region, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have not had the same standing as Governments, so their voices have not been heard. This situation needs to be improved as NGOs often represent the interests of the rural people. People living agrarian lifestyles still make up two-thirds of the region's population. He made several suggestions for changes - providing NGOs with legal status and financial support, as well as reforming the tax system.
He said that NGOs can be important as a mechanism for technology transfer, provision of independent experts and the creation of human resource networks.
Mr. Reid of the World Resources Institute explained that from his experience the involvement of strong local and regional policy research groups in cooperative activities would provide great benefits not only for the region itself, but, also for similar activities at the global level.
Ms. Neva Wendt of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme requested that the Secretariat ensure more Pacific Island states attend ECO ASIA to provide a more balanced representation of participants.
Greater awareness is needed at all levels and in all countries on the impact of future economic growth on the region and on the need to move towards sustainable development. All people are entitled to information that would enable them to better appreciate the natural environment, the social and environmental problems being created and the potential actions they could take to enable them to live non-destructive lifestyles in a sustainable society.
In the words of Agenda 21; "Both formal and non-formal education are indispensable to changing people's attitudes so that they have the capacity to assess and address their sustainable development concerns. It is also critical for achieving environment and ethical awareness, values and attitudes, skills and behavior consistent with sustainable development and for effective public participation in decision-making."
Such information on environmental problems, political commitments and solutions as well as lifestyle requirements must be presented in a language that common people understand so that they will want to cooperate and participate.
Hon. Mr. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya, Governor of Saitama Prefecture said that because pollution and waste generation are products of our socio-economic system and lifestyle, the average citizen is the victim as well as the perpetrator of environmental destruction. He felt that the key to resolving these conflicting issues is to deepen our concern for the environment through everyday experiences and convert that concern into action. Thus, it is very important to promote environmental studies from childhood so that people have the opportunity to develop an understanding of nature and environmental problems from an early age.
The involvement of NGOs, local governments and the media wore all seen as important in this educational process. However, it was recognized that all social groups need to be involved if attitudes are to change.
It was considered essential for the region to generate new developmental models to follow that allow correction of past mistakes and promote the adoption of new strategies.
As part of this issue is the question of whether to adopt technological options aimed at addressing problems after they arise or preventive measures. While technological methods was considered to he important, it was felt the development and implementation of preventive measures is far more desirable. These include the expanded use. of economic tools, such as the polluter pays principle and enhanced environmental impact, assessment procedures.
If the environment, is to he factored into each country's way of thinking about economic development, then the way national account consider natural resources and express national income must be altered. Natural resources and the environment must be regarded as assets that are subject to depreciation with use, so that measures of macro- economic performance are able to reflect; the sustainability of a nation's economic development and resource use.
Environmental Aid Programs and Cooperative Projects
With the great increase in international agreements and initiatives on environmental protection, there has been a lot of new funds directed towards environmental aid projects.
Since 1989, the World Bank has lent US 8 6-7 billion for such programs and in the process learnt a great deal about the problems surrounding their implementation, and the methods for reducing them and making the program more effective.
Dr. Koch-Weser of the World Bank said it found that because of the unique characteristics of environmental projects, they require a different methodology to the more usual infrastructure and engineering projects. If the procedures normally used for these projects are followed then environmental projects are delayed, community participation is reduced, new approaches cannot be tested and resources are committed with uncertain outcomes. The procedure the Bank now uses provides seed money for identification and consensus building, then it supports initial action programs plus project design and development before finally funding the full program.
The experiences of the World Bank provide useful lessons that might be able to be applied by other lending institutions, governments and other organizations involved in promoting or financing sustainable development projects.
Participants felt that more multilateral environmental projects involving many countries within the region are needed, and that cooperation within the framework of the major international treaties and conventions would bring good results. Examples of the kinds of projects felt to be needed include regional environmental monitoring systems, the development of common sustainable development indicators and the creation of regional training centers.
The Co-ordinator of this session was H. E. Mr. Law Hieng Ding of Malaysia. Two speakers made presentations. Mr. H. Sawamura, Director-General, Global Environment Department, Environment Agency of Japan, who spoke about the ECO ASIA long-term project, the problem of urbanization and the role of local governments. Hon. Mr. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya, Governor of Saitama Prefecture spoke in some detail on the role of local governments in promoting sustainable development. Following these speeches, Congress participants made a variety of comments, mainly related to the ECO ASIA Long- term Project.
(A) ECO ASIA Long-term Project
Mr. Sawamura reported on the "Long-Term Perspective on Environment and Development in the Asia- Pacific Region" project, which had been proposed by the Environment Agency of Japan and welcomed by Congress participants at ECO ASIA '98.
The main objective of the project is to identify options for environmental policies that promote the long-term sustainable development of the Asia-Pacific region by;
* identifying the major environmental issues confronting the region,
* examining their links with social and economic issues, and
* forecasting the future social, economic and environmental issues that can he expected from different development scenarios in the region.
It will also seek to enhance the human resources and institutional capacities of participating countries to address the issues identified by the project, and provide an example of regional action in the pursuit of global sustainable development.
As the project is a Japanese initiative, Japan will provide the Secretariat and be responsible for report preparation. However, it will be conducted with the cooperation of ECO ASIA participants. The project is seen as being particularly useful for decision makers in this region as it will provide them with a factual basis for proper policy formulation.
A draft workplan for the project was presented and discussed at a workshop held in Tokyo during March 1994. It was revised, and together with a project schedule, presented to ECO ASIA '94.
The final report of the project will he presented to ECO ASIA '97 and so it may form part of the ECO ASIA contribution to the United Nations General Assembly in 1997.
Based on these scenarios, projections will be prepared on socioeconomic growth and the environment. The results of those projections will form the basis for an assessment of the future state of development and the environment which will identify imoirtant, policy issues to be addressed.
By examining policy options for the region founded on these policy issues, more environmentally friendly "alternative scenarios " can be prepared. Similar projections would also be prepared for these, and evaluation would then be made of the policy options. Finally, the results would he consolidated and recommendations made for future policy directions.
An important aspect of this whole process is cooperation and participation, so the opportunity for input and peer review would be provided throughout the whole work program and will be open to all ECO ASIA members.
Congress participants welcomed Mr. Sawamura's report and continued to express their enthusiasm for the project, and stressed that without the strong intellectual, political and financial support of ECO ASIA members the project will not be a success. It was hoped that the participation of all countries and groups in the region would he maximized so making this a most dynamic project. With that thought in mind some recommendations were made by participants.
A strong recommendation was the establishment of a small committee to take responsibility for the work of the project and ensure its coordination. In relation to this, it was felt that the project's focal points and the nature and uses of its specific outputs need to be more specifically defined.
There needs to be identification of priority areas, such as the urgent national issues being faced by the countries of the region, the green technologies that could be applied to solve problems of each country, plus the cooperative actions that could be adopted to tackle the national and regional problems. Prioritization of the feasible actions that could be taken is also needed. There should be a review of currently existing reports and information that can be used in the project for these purposes, so that duplication can be avoided.
More working level contact may be needed, and this could be achieved by extending the length of the workshop meetings.
It was also recommended that the project's methodology should include the collection of positive examples of environmental management that can be found in the region.
Furthermore, analysis might be made of the changes in social environment caused by economic development and growth.
It was also suggested that consideration be given to providing assistance for information collection by participating countries.
Mr. Sawamura of the Environment Agency of Japan spoke on this topic. He noted that by the year 2005 the urban population of East Asia will be more than half the total world population, and that this gives rise to concerns about air and water pollution, particularly in the developing countries. Another concern is that the introduction of the required urban infrastructure lags behind the population growth rate and the influx of new inhabitants. Add to this factors such as the projection that the number of automobiles will double every 7 years, and the increasing pollution problems facing the developing countries are evident.
Meanwhile, cities on the developed countries are effecting the entire global environment with their emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and creation of hazardous wastes.
Urbanization is a problem common to all regional countries and it needs a cooperative approach which can improve the lifestyles of all their people. Mr. Sawamura expressed his hope that ECO ASIA would provide a forum for discussion to tackle this.
It was proposed that there should be an examination of model cities and the measures, approaches and technologies, both successful and unsuccessful, used in them to create sustainable cities.
(C) The Role of Local Governments
Mr. Sawamura of the Environment Agency also began the discussion on this topic by saying that many of the Agenda 21 undertakings are based on local action and that without participation and cooperation of local governments it will not be possible to meet Agenda 21 objectives and realize sustainable development.
Being that level of government closest to the average citizen, local government has a central role to play in educating citizens about sustainable development and generating consensus between citizens, government and industry.
He said the importance of this was shown in Japan when there was serious industrial pollution during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It was the local governments who first addressed this issue because they were closest to the people being affected and were also able to act more quickly than the central government,. I however, the national government provided legal and financial support to assist with their activities and through this combination they were able to relieve some of the industrial pollution problems.
This experience and knowledge is still stored at the local government level and could be accesses and used for the solution of environmental problems in developing countries.
Dialogue between the local, national and regional level is important to tackle environmental problems in the region and achieve sustainable development.
Hon. Mr. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya, Governor of Saitama Prefecture, also spoke on the role of local governments. In particular, he used the experience of Saitama Prefecture to illustrate what initiatives local governments can take to manage environmental problems and how they could make a contribution to sustainable development. He made the point that unless local regions prosper and provide good quality environments for their residents it will not be possible to achieve satisfactory results at the national level. It is important to enhance the linkages between the national and local levels.
Located as it is within the National Capital Region, Saitama Prefecture has experienced rapid population growth and burgeoning industrialization since the 1960'. This gave rise to a whole range of environmental problems, such as atmospheric and water pollution, from unplanned residential developments and loss of forests and farmland.
In response, the Saitama Government amended statutes concerning pollution and enacted various regulations, as well as relocating factories into industrial parks. In addition, it began to monitor pollution and establish other relevant indices to serve as a basis of further necessary actions.
Saitama Prefecture established an Environment Department that is interested in local and global environmental issues, and this could serve as a model for local governments in the region. Employing 365 people, the Department comprises a head office that deals with drafting, planning and regulating environmental policy, and management offices that coordinate and implement the environmental administration of regions within the prefecture. Approximately 1% of Saitama's annual budget (US $20 billion) is spent on environmental protection activities.
In February this year, the mayors of ten of the Prefectures's cities decided to establish a local action program to jointly tackle global environmental problems. This action is an expression of local government's desire to take a more active cooperative role in improving the lives of their residents through resolving problems of environmental protection.
In relation to this, Mr. Tsuchiya pointed out the importance of communication and information exchange between local governments in the pursuit of global environmental protection and proposed that a forum be established to promote such exchanges. This would allow more integrated actions on problems that operate at all levels.
Congress participants stressed once more the value of actions at the local community level and pointed out the importance of establishing methods of sharing and circulating information for that purpose.
[ China, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand ]
The Japanese Government establish a permanent ECO ASIA Secretariat in Tokyo for the purposes of coordinating and implementing the decisions which the Congress may make.
Set up a special committee to carry out a joint study on the State of the Environment in all the participating countries so as to create a data bank for the purpose of identifying possible priority areas of cooperation on national and regional levels, with particular emphasis on marine and forest conservation, biodiversity, poverty alleviation through equity participation, and natural resource management for sustainable development.
Conduct a study into the formation of an Asia-Pacific Recycling Network to promote waste recycling, especially of hazardous and toxic wastes, and environmentally sound management at, the source. Establish a technical committee to formulate specific plans for Capacity Building with particular emphasis on human resources development and clean technologies.
This particular suggestion was the subject of considerable discussion by participants. The necessity of considering interaction with the undertakings of other forum led to a proposal that the Japanese government and the Environment Agency take a central role in continuing to study these matters.
10. PARTICIPANTS LIST
Mr. Cliford Lincoln
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Environment and Deputy Prime Minisiter
Mr. Wang Yuqing
Deputy Administrator of National Environmental
Mr. Bhaskaran Nair
Deputy Secretary for Housing, Urban
Development and Environment
Mr. Sarweshwar Jha
Joint Secretary of Ministry of Environment and
H. E. Mr. Sarwono Kusumaatmadja
State Minister for Environment
Ms. Toshiko Hamayotsu
Minister of State, Director-General of
Environment Agency, Minister of State in charge
of Global Environmental Problems
Dr. Ichiro Kamoshita
Parliamentary Vice Minister of Environment
Mr. Hiroshi Sawamura
Director-General, Global Environment
Department, Environment Agency
Mr. Itaru Umezu
Deputy Director-General, Multilateral Cooperation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
H. E. Mr. Hyung Cheull Kim
Vice Minister, Ministry of Environment
Hon. Mr. Law Hieng Ding
Minister of Science, Technology and the
Hon. Dr. Tserendulam Shiirevdamba
Doctor of Science
H. E. U Ohn Gyaw
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of
National Commission for Environmental Affairs
Hon. Mr. Bir Mani Dhakal
State Minister for Forests and Soil Conservation
Mr. John Thomas Ellis Gilbert
Deputy Secretary for the Environment
Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad Sahibzada
Secretary to the Government of Pakistan
H. E. Mr. Aiwa Olmi
Papua New Guinea Ambassador to Japan
Mr. Kasem Snidvongs
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science,
Technology and Environment
Mr. David H. Strother
US-Japan Joint Planning and Coordination
Committee on Environmental Protection
U. S. A.
Hon. Dr. Dang Huu
Minisiter of Science, Technology and Environment
Mr. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya
Governor of Saitama Prefecture
Mr. Ichiro Sekiguchi
Vice Governor of Saitama Prefecture
Dr. Kazi F. Jalal
Chief, Office of the Environment
Asian Development Bank
Ms. Seiko Takahashi
Deputy Executive Secretary
Economic and Social Commission for Asia. and
Dr. Terry Rambo
Director, Program on Environment
East West Center
Dr. Maritta R. V. Bieberstein Koch-Weser
The World Bank
Dr. B. C. Y. Freezailah
International Tropical Timber Organization
Dr. Joanne Fox-Przeworski
Co-ordinator for Sustainable Development
Organization for Economic Co-operation
Ms. Neva Wendt
National Environmental Management Strategy
South Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Dr. Hideki Kaji
United Nations Centre for Regional Development
Dr. Richard Meganck
Regional Director and Representative
for Asia and the Pacific
United Nations Environment Programme
Dr. Tarcisio G. Della Senta
Vice Rector, a. i.
Academic Division, The United Nations University
Mr. Walter Van Court Reid
Vice President for Program
World Resources Institute
Prof. Michio Hashimoto
Overseas Environmental Co-operation Center
Ms. Wakako Hironaka
Member, House of Councillors
Prof. Ryokichi Hirono
Mr. Tetsuhisa Iida
Senior Research Fellow
Dr. Hidefumi Imura
Prof. Shunsuke Iwasaki
Peoples' Forum 2001
Mr. Saburo Kato
Research Institute for Environment and Society
Mr. Saburo Kawai
Chairman & President
International Development Center of Japan
Prof. Akio Morishima
Nagoya University Hon. Dr. Makoto Numata
Nature Conservation Society of Japan
Mr. Hiroshi Okazaki
Global Environment Forum
Mr. Hajime Ota
Director of Industrial and Telecommunications
Department, Director of Global Environment
Mr. Tadashi Yasuhara
Environmental Information Center