G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting in Otsu, 7-9 April 2000

We, the environment ministers of the eight major industrialized countries and the European Commissioner responsible for the environment, have met from 7 to 9 April 2000 in Otsu as a follow-up to our last meeting in Schwerin in 1999 to discuss challenging environmental issues. Discussions centered on four key themes: I. Climate Change; II. Sustainable Development in the 21st Century and Rio + 10; III. Environment and Health; and IV. Follow-up on Previous G8 Environment Ministers' Meetings. We call upon the chair to forward this communique to the chair of the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit of Heads of State and Government.



As we stand on the threshold of a new millennium, environmental degradation is still increasing and natural resources are being depleted, threatening the foundation of our life and that of future generations. In the 21st century, things must change. We perceive a vital need to take the lead to achieve sustainable development, demonstrating political leadership as we provide models for the global community.
I. Climate change
A. A. Successful completion of COP6 for the early entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol; further promotion of global actions to address climate change
2. Climate change is an unprecedented challenge and critical environmental issue facing humankind. The world has experienced severe and unusual weather consistent with many projections of the future impacts of climate change. Temperatures in the 1990s ranked amongst the highest on record and many parts of the world experienced unusually severe droughts, floods, and storms.
3. We confirm our commitment to ensure that results achieved at COP6 help promote the ratification and entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible. For most countries, this means no later than 2002. Success at COP6 will be important in providing Parties sufficient time to meet the terms of the first commitment period. Early actions can help reduce costs.
4. We resolve to take the political leadership necessary for the success of COP6. We instruct our officials to resolve as many technical issues as possible well before COP6. We will make full use of meetings at the ministerial level to resolve political issues. We commit ourselves to outcomes at COP6 that ensure environmental integrity, environmental credibility and cost effectiveness.
5. Achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention will require much greater efforts in developed and developing countries. We reaffirm our responsibilities to take the lead in combating climate change. We also welcome the commitments announced at COP5 by some developing countries and other actions taken by developing countries and encourage other countries to strengthen their efforts in this field. Clean Development Mechanism projects will facilitate mitigation measures in developing countries and, at the same time, promote their sustainable development. We will strengthen partnerships between developed and developing countries to promote capacity building and technology transfer. We believe that there is urgent need to intensify and expand the dialogue about how developed and developing countries together can fight climate change in a manner that promotes sustainable development.
6. We commit ourselves to continue supporting adaptation measures by countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, notably small island developing states and least developed countries.
7. We continue to support the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's efforts to provide a scientific basis for international discussions on climate change. We note the importance of its third assessment report in facilitating international deliberations on future steps that all countries must take to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention.
B. Strengthening domestic actions to address climate change by G8 countries
8. G8 countries have already begun to take various domestic actions which reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We note the benefit of showing demonstrable progress in the years ahead. We recommit ourselves to taking significant domestic actions to tackle global climate change. We confirm that the Kyoto Mechanisms will be supplemental to domestic actions.
9. Using the opportunities and advantages of the market and sending the right signals to the market are important for effectively addressing climate change. G8 countries are introducing measures which may include market mechanisms and which will promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Significant business opportunities are emerging in a broad range of economic sectors as the need for new climate-friendly products and services grows. We encourage all sectors to fully utilize these opportunities.
10. We welcome the recommendations of the G8 Environmental Futures Forum in February 2000 in Kanagawa, Japan regarding best practices in domestic policies and measures. We will continue information exchanges regarding best practices in order to learn further from the experiences of other countries. We emphasize the importance of the April 2000 Copenhagen Workshop, which should also assist in the sharing of experience and the exchange of information regarding best practices in policies and measures among countries from all regions of the world.
II. Sustainable development in the 21st century and Rio + 10
A. Sustainable development in the 21st century
11. The development patterns prevailing to date continue to constitute the biggest factor placing stresses on both domestic and global environments. We must break with the unsustainable development patterns seen in the 20th century, to decouple economic development from increasing pressures on the environment, and to ensure that development occurs sustainably, incorporating a wise use of natural resources. In this regard, sustainable development indicators will help us measure progress. We commit ourselves to pursuing these goals based on a multidisciplinary approach and the integration of environmental considerations and will foster a partnership between developed and developing countries to this end. We reaffirm our Rio + 5 commitment to have in place national strategies for sustainable development by 2002.
12. The 21st century will increasingly focus on the enhancement of resource efficiency, marking a shift from the 20th century. We welcome the move towards more sustainable consumption patterns, under which consumer preferences are shifting from a focus on the possession of products to a focus on the enjoyment of services. We will continue to move towards a more sustainable management and use of natural resources, improve resource efficiency, and reduce the discharge of wastes into the environment. We will encourage the lifecycle approach and therefore promote waste reduction, reuse, recycling and appropriate waste disposal that endangers neither human health nor the environment. We emphasize the opportunities for business and employment this creates.
13. Freshwater is a vital and precious resource essential for all life. We will promote the preservation of water resources and ecosystems, and provision of security from floods, droughts and other natural hazards through adopting the integrated water resources management approach, including environmentally-sound management in catchment basins. We recognize the importance of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, maximization of water usage efficiency,and elimination of subsidies which lead to wasteful use of water. We will move toward pricing water services to reflect the cost of their provision. We will promote international assessments of freshwater resources and fully utilize our experiences and expertise in water management to assist developing countries in capacity building and technology transfer. We encourage countries sharing common catchment basins to develop agreements regarding assessment, management and utilization of their respective boundary and/or transboundary waters. We welcome the Hague Ministerial Declaration on Water Security in the 21st Century. We look forward to the Bonn International Conference on Freshwater in 2002 to facilitate discussion of this issue at Rio + 10.
14. We welcome the report that the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) will submit to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session in April and support its recommendations notably those related to the future international arrangement on forests. We urge countries to immediately begin to implement the proposals for action of the IFF and its predecessor, the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.
15. Sustainable energy development and use are key in dealing with climate change and air pollution. We will further enhance energy efficiency and promote environmentally-sound energy mixes. We will promote research and development to reduce costs and enhance the marketability of renewable energies. We will promote policies and measures to improve the competitiveness of renewable energies, thereby expanding relevant markets. Sustainable energy is a critical component of sustainable development in developing countries. A number of initiatives are now in hand, but much more needs to be done to deliver substantial change. G8 countries need to work with partners to address these problems with the aim of making a step change in the provision of sustainable energy in poor countries. This will complement the CSD process on sustainable energy future, which we support.
16. As we strengthen programs to increase the environmental awareness of consumers, both central and subnational governments should themselves adopt appropriate green procurement practices, thereby creating large markets for environmentally-friendly goods and services. We welcome the international leadership of the private sector in making their activities environmentally sound. We encourage all sectors to follow suit. We will further promote environmental reporting and accounting as effective tools to this end. We note with interest recent developments regarding environmental tax reforms in some G8 countries. Policy mixes including economic instruments, regulatory measures, and voluntary approaches can enhance overall effectiveness. We also recognize the importance of phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies.
17. Sustainable development should be pursued with the full participation of all stakeholders. We welcome efforts by local governments, communities, private commercial enterprises and NGOs to promote sustainable development at the local level and encourage the exchange of experiences and best practices domestically and internationally. We continue to support and facilitate participation of stakeholders in developing, implementing, and monitoring environmental policies locally, nationally, and internationally.
18. Urban sustainable development will represent a major policy challenge for this century. Combating unsustainable trends in urban development including environmental pollution, urban sprawl, and green-field development through integrated policy approaches will contribute to a higher quality of life of citizens.
B. Strengthening of international frameworks in the field of the environment
19. We welcome efforts to strengthen UNEP and look forward to the improved integration of environmental considerations throughout the UN system and other international institutions. To this end, we look forward to the early establishment by the UN of an Environmental Management Group. To improve the coordination among international environmental agreements, we urge the UN to undertake concrete measures such as information sharing among secretariats of related agreements, enhancing scientific linkages among their areas of competence, the joint training of specialists, and the harmonization of venues and dates for conferences of the parties to these agreements. We will also strengthen our efforts to make regional environmental cooperation more effective.
20. We will strengthen our efforts to ensure that a coherent global and ecologically responsive framework of environmental agreements and institutions guarantees that globalization supports sustainable development. We look forward to the conclusion of the revised OECD guidelines on transnational corporations. We will further promote international co-operation on the establishment, general recognition and continual improvement and implementation of environmental standards and norms. We call on multilateral enterprises to set an example in promoting sustainable development and in applying best practices throughout the world. We reiterate our call on the international financial institutions to better integrate the environment dimension into their work.
C. Rio + 10
21. The success of Rio + 10 in 2002 is important as it will be the first comprehensive global meeting on sustainable development in the 21st century. We call on all regions and stakeholders to enter into the preparatory process, including comprehensive assessment of current environmental and developmental trends, and we will promote regional cooperation to this end. Rio + 10 should formulate concrete strategies and forge stronger partnerships to accelerate sustainable development as well as lay out the pragmatic modalities which will make possible their implementation. It will also provide an opportunity to give new direction to the work of the United Nations in the field of sustainable development, including with respect to the Commission on Sustainable Development.
22. Consideration should be given to having Rio + 10 attended by delegates at the head of state or government level, as was the case at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. We note with interest suggestions to hold this in a developing country.
III. The environment and health
23. The protection of human health from the effects of pollution and other forms of environmental degradation is an issue on the forefront of citizens' concerns. Our policies should be based on the precautionary approach, as set forth in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. We attach high priority to protecting children, pregnant women, the elderly, and others who are disproportionately susceptible to the effects of environmental degradation as we establish environmental guidelines, criteria, and standards. We recommit ourselves to implement the 1997 Declaration of the Environment Leaders of the Eight on Children's Environmental Health.
24. Risks posed by hazardous chemical substances are one of the greatest concerns among the people of the G8 countries. As the recent contamination of the Danube basin highlighted, without effective national policies and appropriate infrastructure for chemical management in all countries, there is inevitable damage to human health and the environment. We call upon all nations, industry, and non-governmental organizations to strengthen their support and participation in the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS). To reduce the generation of dioxins and furans we will promote comprehensive measures including waste minimization, segregation at source, and proper pollution control. We call for the furtherance of knowledge acquisition on Endocrine Disruptors through jointly planned and implemented projects and international information sharing. We seek to further the exchange of information among countries implementing pollutant release and transfer register (PRTR) schemes.
25. Pollution by chemical substances is spreading at the global level and we note, in particular, the harmful effects of transboundary pollution through the atmosphere. In considering the protection of human health and ecosystems we urge cooperative international work programs, particularly for those substances with high toxicity and persistence. We will make efforts for the early entry into force of the Rotterdam Convention. We assign particular importance to the successful conclusion of a strong and effective global convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by the end of 2000, and recognize the importance of assisting developing countries and countries with economies in transition to fulfill their eventual obligations under this treaty.
IV. Follow-up on previous G8 Environment Ministers' meetings
26. We welcome the decision of the UN CSD as regards Oceans and Seas and will work cooperatively to implement its provisions. We also welcome the recently adopted United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Oceans and Seas which called for an informal consultative process to consider all aspects of the oceans and seas. We will work to make this process a success. We will strengthen our efforts to achieve sustainable management of fish stocks, at both national and international levels. We will make efforts towards the early entry into force of the New York Agreement on Straddling Stocks and the FAO Compliance Agreement as well as the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention). We will also make efforts to further activate Regional Sea Action Plans, strengthen regional secretariats for the Action Plans, and vigorously implement the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA).
27. We stress the importance of the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in January of this year as a major event. G8 countries will make all possible efforts for its early entry into force by giving timely consideration to signature and ratification.
28. In the wake of the World Trade Organization's Ministerial Conference held in November 1999 in Seattle, we recall our commitments from our meeting in Schwerin in 1999. We need to work with our trade colleagues to advance the trade and environment agenda. It is important that environmental concerns be fully taken into account in the context of the multilateral trading system, in particular in the next Trade Round. We also need to examine what we, as Environment ministers, can do to advance the trade and environment agenda outside the WTO. In particular, we support practical international efforts to build capacity on trade and environment issues in developing countries, particularly those which bring together officials from both the trade and environment fields and foster policy integration supportive of sustainable development.
29. Every year our export credit agencies support investments worth billions of dollars around the globe. These investments may have significant environmental impacts. Export credit agencies should help promote environmental considerations in all their activities. This is a priority issue in our efforts to protect the global environment. Last year, G8 Heads called on export credit agencies to work "towards common environmental guidelines... by the 2001 G8 Summit." We must reinvigorate and intensify our work to meet this mandate. We welcome as a first step the Action Statement agreed in February this year by the OECD Working Party on Export Credits and Credit Guarantees and the proposed work plan including Special Sessions dedicated to the environment issue.
30. We recognize both the serious environmental effects of violations of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the need to combat illegal activity in this area. We will provide full support for broader participation in, and effective implementation of, and compliance with, the existing MEAs, and their mechanisms for exchange of information and for achieving their goals. We appreciate the ongoing activities by UNEP and by the Lyon Group Law Enforcement Subgroup in this area. We will continue to strengthen cooperation with other countries, in particular developing countries, who need external assistance to support their efforts to achieve the objectives of the MEAs.