A Long-term Perspective on Environment and Development in the Asia-Pacific Region
The Asia-Pacific region has more than half the world's population and its rate of economic growth is the highest in the world. It is predicted that the region's consumption of energy and natural resources will increase sharply. Without proper environmental policy and management, the amount of pollutants and wastes will increase to critical levels, natural resources will be depleted, and consequently the realization of sustainable development of the region will be hampered.
Bearing this in mind, "A Long-term Perspective on Environment and Development Asia-Pacific region" (hereinafter referred to as "ECO ASIA Long-term Perspective Project" or "the Project") was proposed by the Environment Agency of the Government of Japan at the second meeting of Environment Congress for Asia and the Pacific (ECO ASIA '93), and welcomed by all participants in the Congress. The Project will cover the period up to the year 2025. It was understood that the Project would be useful in providing decision makers in this region with a scientific basis for proper policy formulation. There was agreement that the Project would be conducted with the active cooperation of ECO ASIA participating countries and organizations such as research institutes and international organizations.
To initiate the Project, the first International Workshop was held in March
1994 in Tokyo with the participation from 12 governments and 9 international
organizations and research institutes (see Attachment 2). They discussed important
elements of the Project, including objectives, implementation arrangements and the
work plan. At the first Workshop, it was agreed that the objectives of the Project
a) to identify options for environmental policies that promote the long-term
sustainable development of the Asia-Pacific region by
i) identifying the major environmental issues confronting the region,
ii) examining their links with social economic issues, and
iii) forecasting the future social economic and environmental issues that can be expected from different development scenarios in the region;
b) to enhance human resources and institutional capacities of participating countries to address the issues identified by the Project; and
c) to contribute to the pursuit of global sustainable development within the context of economic, social and environmental factors by providing models of regional action.
It was also agreed that Japan would provide the Secretariat for the Project,
with the role of:
a) preparing reports for ECO ASIA;
b) organizing necessary activities for that purpose; and
c) securing a financial base for these activities. It was further agreed that, in the preparation of documents for the Project, the input of ECO ASIA participants will be sought at all important stages throughout the Project to ensure consideration of relevant viewpoints, and reports will be made available periodically to ECO ASIA for comments and suggestions as the process advances.
In accordance with the views received at the first Workshop, the Secretariat established a Steering Committee consisting of four people from participating countries (see Attachment 6). The first meeting of the Steering Committee was held in November 1994 in Tokyo, and discussed a draft inception report and the structure of the second Workshop.
The second International Workshop was held in February/March 1995 in Tokyo with the participation from 12 countries and 4 international organizations (see Attachment 3), and discussed methodologies and information gathering process for the Project. The Workshop heard presentations on potential models for the Project by three Japanese resource persons, and recognized that these models would be useful tools as the Project methodology. It was agreed that data collection for the Project modeling forms a basic component of the Project methodology and that the ECO ASIA Secretariat would request participating countries to provide readily available existing information on their countries.
In November 1995, the second meeting of the Steering Committee was held in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and discussed an outline of a draft report of the Project.
The third International Workshop was held in March 1996 in Tokyo with the participation from 13 countries and 5 international organizations (see Attachment 4). The Workshop discussed in detail a draft report on the Project drafted by Japanese Project Team/resource persons (see Attachment 1). The Workshop agreed that further work was needed for formulating the draft report which would be submitted to ECO ASIA '96, a ministerial level conference, to be held in May 1996, and that additional information needed to revise the draft would be forwarded to the secretariat.
The draft report of the Project was then submitted to the participants of the Fifth Environment Congress for Asia and the Pacific (ECO ASIA '96), held 26 - 27 May 1996 in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. The participants welcomed the draft report and the recommendations contained in it, and requested that the Secretariat arrange to finalize it, taking into account the comments made during the discussion. It was also suggested that this cooperative work be continued to further develop and make more concrete the concepts and proposals contained in the draft report.
In August 1996, the third meeting of the Steering Committee was held in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, and discussed how to revise the draft report and finalize it, and the future of the Project.
The fourth International Workshop was held in October 1996 in Tokyo with the participation from 11 countries and 7 international organizations (see Attachment 5). The Workshop discussed the draft final report focusing on chapter 4 which deals with the conclusions, recommendations and follow-up activities of the ECO ASIA Long-term Perspective Project, and the Workshop agreed upon a revised draft of chapter 4 after intensive discussion. It was requested that the secretariat finalize the report, taking into account the comments made during the session and those to be submitted by participants. The participants appreciated the offer from New Zealand to assist with editing of the final report.
This report has been prepared by Japanese Project Team/resource persons listed in Attachment 1 and the Secretariat through the continuous and active cooperation of all the participants of four international workshops, members of the Steering Committee and Japanese experts. This report, the outcome of the three-year Project, is expected to be a major report for inclusion as part of the region's input to the 5th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and/or to the special session of the United Nations General Assembly.