"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Initiatives for Sustainable Development (ISD) Toward the 21 Century, Denver Summit

[Place] Denver
[Date] June 21, 1997
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

1. Achieving the Goals of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Developmen

At the time of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, Japan announced that it would substantially enhance and increase its official development assistance (ODA) in the environmental sector. This assistance would be on a scale of 900 billion to one trillion during the five-year period from fiscal 1992, and would be for the purpose of contributing to the goal of achieving "sustainable development."

Subsequently, Japan has made considerable efforts in this sector, including more substantive environmental policy dialogs with developing countries, and the total assistance during the five years through fiscal 1996 was 1.44 trillion, exceeding the initial goal by more than 40 percent.

Japan intends to continue to strengthen its efforts in environmental cooperation, mainly through ODA programs, and the government is therefore making this announcement of our Initiatives for Sustainable Development (ISD) Toward the 21st Century. These initiatives present our basic philosophy on environmental cooperation, and constitute an action plan which will become the central framework for future cooperation.

2. Philosophy of ISD

Environmental cooperation extended by Japan will be executed in accordance with the following ideas:

(1) Global Human Security

Environmental issues threaten the human existence, and constitute a security issue under the broad meaning of the term.

(2) Ownership

Environmental issues in developing countries cannot be resolved solely through assistance from industrialized countries. It is vitally important that developing countries assume the primary responsibility and role in taking action on their own initiative, and that industrialized countries assist developing countries in undertaking these self-help efforts.

(3) Sustainable Development

Sustainable development to accomplish both economic development and environmental conservation concerns the entire world. For developing countries to achieve sustainable development, it is extremely important that industrialized countries provide assistance for the necessary environmental consideration in development, and extend cooperation in environmental protection, paying attention to the different economic and social conditions of the country concerned.

3. Program of Action (International Environmental Cooperation by Japan, Centering on ODA)

(1) Atmospheric Pollution (Acid Deposition, etc.), Water Pollution and Waste Disposal (Brown Issues)

(a) Building Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia

(i) Purpose of the Network

Sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide are released into the air from sources such as coal burned in factories and in the home. These substances are then dispersed over a wide area, and are dissolved by rain and snow, whereupon they fall to the earth (in the form of acid rain and acid snow). This makes acid deposition an issue which must be resolved through the cooperative efforts of the countries involved. This problem of transboundary atmospheric pollution was also mentioned in Agenda 21, which was adopted at the time of UNCED in June of 1992. Agenda 21 warned that "transboundary air pollution has adverse health impacts on humans and other detrimental environmental impacts, such as tree and forest loss and the acidification of water bodies," and further stated that the programs adopted by Europe and North America for transboundary air pollution need to be continued, and that their experience needs to be shared with the world.

Japan will take an active initiative involving acid deposition in the rapidly industrializing region of East Asia. Through this "Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia", we will build a common understanding concerning the actual situation for acid deposition by sharing data accumulated on acid deposition and related information among all participating countries. In addition, we will seek to create a basis to promote programs to combat this issue, including future measures to address the pollution sources.

(ii) Form

Participating countries would designate National Centers to collect and analyze data on acid deposition, and to evaluate the status of acid deposition within the country concerned. Each National Center would therefore provide data and other information to the Network Center (planned to be built in Niigata). The Network Center would collect and analyze data that has been provided, and would provide participating countries with feedback on the results of this work.

Projected participants include China, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(iii) Details of the Initiative

A committee of specialists has examined this initiative in the course of four sessions convened since 1993. Based on the results of this examination, an intergovernmental meeting will be held in March of 1998, at which time a decision on establishing the network will be made.

For developing countries, training courses in monitoring acid deposition will be started in Japan from fiscal 1997, with due regard given to the conditions of the country concerned. On request by the country, further assistance through ODA, including the dispatch of specialists and provision of equipment related to monitoring will be considered.

(b) Atmospheric Pollution, Water Pollution and Waste Disposal

Environmental cooperation with developing countries must progress the country itself, enhancing the effectiveness of its environmental regulations and increasing incentives for private companies to develop their own environmental measures. This will create domestic environmental industries and markets, to formulate a system through which improvement of the environment will proceed automatically, as part of normal economic activity. Indeed this has been Japan's experience.

Therefore, it is important for developing countries themselves to set up appropriate levels of regulations, and strictly enforce them to address their environmental issues in reference to industries. Financial and technical assistance would then be considered on this basis. Japan wishes to strengthen the capacities of developing countries themselves to handle these issues, through environmental centers in Thailand, Indonesia and China etc., and to build mutual relationships between these centers. As required, these centers would also provide third country training programs, thereby improving the problem-solving abilities of countries in the surrounding region as well. The Green Aid Plan is another program focused on developing countries for human resource development, basic surveys, R & D and technological verification surveys. The countries involved in this plan are China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and India. This program will be enhanced to disseminate its results, in coordination with ODA.

Assistance through financial and technical cooperation will also be provided for actual programs, both public and private sector, to combat sources of pollution. One effective example of assistance is that of providing "two step loans" (financial intermediary loans) of funds required for programs to be executed by local governments or the private sector. Japan's ODA loans for this purpose have already been provided to countries including Indonesia and Thailand. Furthermore, low-cost, simplified technologies will be developed and transferred to meet the needs of developing countries, and assistance will be provided to these countries to build a technological foundation in engineering, recycling technologies, and human resources so that technology can be transferred from industrialized countries to developing countries. One additional contribution is the Asia Productivity Organization (APO) which appeals for "environmentally sound productivity (Green Productivity)" to accomplish both environmental protection and increased productivity at the same time. The Government of Japan will also pursue cooperation with developing countries in conformance with this concept. The main items of action devoted to green productivity are (1) promotion of cleaner production (improvement of manufacturing processes) (2) supporting small and medium enterprises and (3) building networks.

(2) Efforts to Address Global Warming

The problems presented by global warming affect all countries throughout the world, both industrialized and developing and cannot be solved solely through the efforts of industrialized countries. To encourage developing countries to address this issue, initiatives to combat global warming must form an integral part of sustainable development. It is also necessary to raise the level of consciousness concerning the problem of global warming, to increase the ability to address this issue from social, economic and systemic perspectives, and to transfer and spread the technologies of countermeasures. A particular priority should be placed on pursuing measures within Asian regions, in which rapid economic development can be expected over the short term.

(a) Improving Capabilities on the Part of Developing Countries

Japan will cooperate with the governments of developing countries to increase awareness within these countries on the global warming problem. This cooperation will include compiling various publications related to global warming, as well as holding workshops on this issue. Japan will also use schemes such as JICA's training programs to improve the ability of developing countries in addressing global warming issues.

(b) Global Diffusion of Technologies to Counteract Global Warming

It is urgently needed to promote worldwide diffusion of technologies in energy conservation and new energy, in order to reduce CO2 emissions over the short term. Energy conservation and new energy sources will not only reduce CO2 emissions by developing countries, but will also contribute to improved economic performance and energy security on the part of these countries. Consequently, transferring energy conservation and new energy technologies to developing countries would be an effective means of reducing CO2 emissions, and the government of Japan will enhance programs of this type. In particular, Japan will actively consider using the framework of ODA, including grant aid, for projects that are appropriate in view of the energy situation in the developing country concerned. Furthermore, the Green Aid Plan will expand initiatives particularly for the purpose of disseminating the results thereof. For promoting Activities Implemented Jointly(AIJ), both the public sector and the private sector will cooperate with developing countries through the so called Japan Program, a basic framework for assisting AIJ in Japan. Japan will continue to provide ODA funding for forestation and forest conservation projects throughout the world in view of their contribution to CO2 absorption from the atmosphere.

(3) Natural Environment Conservation(Green Issues, Blue Issues)

(a) Initiative for Biodiversity Conservation

(i) Biodiversity at Present

Tropical rain forests, which are home to 50-90% of all species in the world, have declined since 1990 at a rate of 12.6 million hectares per year. If this deforestation continues, 25% of the world's plant species will be exterminated over the next 30 years, and it has been estimated that in 200-300 years, half of the world's bird and animal species will be extinct.

(ii) Cooperation Efforts

Cooperation Through the Indonesia Biodiversity Center -- Assistance will be provided to agencies responsible for protecting the natural environment, using the Indonesia's Biodiversity Center as a base for activity. This assistance will take the form of collecting information and creating databases on the rich and still unknown natural environment of the region, and testing biodiversity conservation programs as a model project for East Asia. Furthermore, coordination with other countries in Southeast Asia will be sought as the model project as Indonesia progresses.

This would include assisting networking among specialists in biodiversity throughout East Asia, by conducting training programs and holding workshops for the purpose of assisting activities to preserve rare species in these countries and to improve the technical abilities of the specialists concerned.

Parks-in-Peril Program-- Japan will continue to support projects involving park management and environmental education, which are pursued mainly by NGOs, in the framework of the Parks-in-Peril Program. Japan and the United States are cooperating in this program to help protect 100 million acres of the richest ecosystems in Central and South America, and the Caribbean by the year 2000. . Japan intends to expand this program to the Asia-Pacific region, and will continue its efforts in this area.

(b) Coral Reef Conservation Network

(i) Coral Reefs at Present

Coral reefs are referred to as the "tropical forests of the sea." Almost 10% of the world's coral reefs have already been destroyed. If this process continues, 40% will face the possibility of further destruction over next 20 years. The figure will rise to 60% over the next 40 years.

(ii) Cooperation Efforts

Japan is studying the possibility of establishing a regional center for preservation and research of coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. In the future, Japan will assist in building a research network between countries with abundant coral reef resources within the Asia-Pacific region, with this regional center is functioning as a core. At this time, emphasis will be placed on accepting trainees for courses in reference to coral reef preservation, and convening workshops to be held in places such as Okinawa, as well as on activities within the framework of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).

(c) Promotion of Sustainable Forest Management, and Increased Cooperation in Combat-Desertification Programs

(i) Deforestation and Forest Degradation , and Desertification

Forests have environmentally important roles as carbon sinks and reservoirs, habitats for diverse wildlife and as suppliers of clean water, however, tropical forests constitute more than 40% of the world's forests. With expansion of agricultural land, including disordered shifting cultivation, excessive logging for fuelwood and charcoal, and overgrazing, tropical forests are being depleted at a rate of 12.6 million hectares per year, which is equivalent to one-third of the area of Japan, and one-half of Japan's forested area (average for 1991 through 1995)

Moreover, desertification affects one-sixth of the world's population and 70% of all arid regions. This is caused by overcropping and overgrazing, and has created a vicious cycle of falling productivity, which in turn increases poverty and invites unrestricted expansion of cultivation of new farmland.

(ii) Cooperation by Japan

Since social, economic and policy factors such as poverty and land use policies are behind the deforestation and forest degradation, and the spread of desertification, comprehensive and long-term efforts are required, including establishing environmentally sound sustainable agricultural production which involve both local communities and local governments. Based on the results of large-scale participatory forestation projects through its ODA loans in countries such as India and Indonesia, as well as social forestry projects through technical cooperation in countries such as Nepal, Japan will strengthen its cooperation in these ways. Japan will also promote projects, which demonstrate sustainable forest management at operational level through comprehensive and concentrated implementation of various cooperation schemes in collaboration with NGOs and international organizations.

Further measures will include enhancement of the "Afforestation Cooperation Project" (in countries such as Senegal and Niger), which combine Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and experts. In addition, verification studies and cooperative programs have been performed for establishing technologies to combat-desertification through agricultural and rural development in the Niger river basin of Africa, and cooperation in various forms will be promoted based on the results of this project.

Cooperation Through the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

Japan has been extending considerable assistance to the activities of the ITTO, as the host country, since inviting the headquarters to Japan. Japan has provided approximately 80% of funding for policy formulation activities and project implementation for this organization. The major tropical timber producers (Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil) have expressed great appreciation for ITTO activities, and Japan intends to continue to enhance its active contribution.

ITTO's objective for the year 2000

The new International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) was adopted in 1994, and came into force on January 1, 1997. Japan will assist in a variety of ITTO tasks aiming at the stated goals of this agreement, which are the protection of tropical forests in consideration of environmental needs, and the implementation of a strategy for achieving exports of tropical timber and timber products from sustainably managed sources by the year 2000.

(4) Fresh Water Issues

(i) Present Status

It is estimated that at present approximately 1.1 billion people throughout the world do not have access to safe water, and that approximately 2.9 billion people do not have sufficient access to sanitary facilities. This situation is estimated to cause at least 3 million deaths a year in children under five years of age. In some developing countries, people depend on ground water both for drinking and for irrigation, and the use of polluted ground water causes both health damage and problems in the living environment. Moreover, where irrigation water is the main demand for water in developing countries, improper management of this irrigation water causes salinization and other problems, which reduces the productivity of arable land.

(ii) Cooperation Efforts

The main cause of water pollution comes from toxic substances such as heavy metals, as well as household effluent containing human waste discharged by people with diseases, which contaminates water sources. Countries that do not have water and sewage systems face problems of contamination of water sources from sewage. Resolving these water problems for a country requires the implementation of both water and sewage programs that take into account the characteristics of that country's urban and rural areas.

Japan's cooperation in the living environment sector consists mainly of water and sanitation systems, and constitutes approximately 10% of its bilateral ODA. Assistance in the field of water supply includes developing water resources and building purification plants and water supply systems through ODA loans and grant aid, and constructing wells by the JOCV as well as through grant assistance for grassroots projects. Assistance in the sewage sector includes building sewage treatment plants and sanitation systems through ODA loans and grant aid. Providing safe water through such measures as building water and sewage systems yields very substantial results in health protection, including protection against infectious diseases. Thus, developing countries have expressed a strong desire for this type of assistance, which Japan will strengthen in the future.

Assistance in this sector is not restricted to physical facilities. There is also a substantial need for knowledge-based assistance to protect water quality, including administrative know-how to combat water pollution (such as effective regulatory measures to protect water quality), water quality monitoring, technology to detect underground water pollution, and water purification technology. Japan will strengthen its cooperation in these areas. Cooperation is also required for sustainable development of irrigation water, and for extending know-how in areas of management and control, in order to increase food production and to manage natural resources in a sustainable fashion. Japan will strengthen technical cooperation with the participation of local people utilizing the experience accumulated by water users' associations in Japan.

Following the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), Japan announced that from fiscal 1993 through fiscal 1995 it would double its assistance to underground water development and other water supply projects mainly in sub-Saharan African countries over the levels it provided in the preceding three years, to a scale of between US $250-300 million in grant aid. Since then, Japan has already provided US $270 million.

(5) Assistance in Enhancing Environmental Awareness

Japan believes that developing countries themselves need to develop the ability to address environmental issues, and put these abilities into practice. Increasing environmental awareness among people in developing countries will be the key to achieve such goals.

(a) Policy Dialogs

Even though developing countries have a substantial need for assistance in the environmental sector, development tends to assume a higher priority than the environment. In many cases, therefore, local needs in the environmental sector are not reflected in specific project proposals. For this reason, Japan has been promoting developing countries' ownership of this issue through policy dialogs based on the fundamental concepts of the New Development Strategy of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and its results-oriented development targets. Such policy dialogs create a deeper understanding of environmental protection in developing countries, and encourage the formulation of assistance projects in the environmental sector.

Based upon these perspectives, Japan has sent environment policy dialog missions abroad since 1989. To date a total of 11 teams have been sent, including missions to Brazil, Mexico, Southeast Asia, East Africa and China. Moreover, Japan has exchanged opinions on environmental cooperation at various policy forums concerning ODA, including high-level missions on economic and technical cooperation. Also Japan has held policy dialogs from the perspective of implementation of Green Aid Plan since 1992. In June of 1996, the first meeting of the "Japan-China Comprehensive Forum on Environmental Cooperation" was convened in Beijing, as the beginning of a comprehensive policy dialog process involving both the public and private sectors in Japan and China, at which time efforts were made to strengthen the bilateral environmental cooperation. Finally, Japan has held Eco-Asia since 1991 for the purpose of policy dialogs among environmental ministers in the Asia-Pacific region and representatives of international organizations. Japan intends to continue these efforts in the future.

(b) Environmental Education

In order to increase the ability of developing countries to handle environmental issues, it is important to raise environmental awareness on the part of citizens of developing countries through environmental education. Japan will utilize appropriate schemes, such as grant assistance for grassroots projects, to provide assistance in promoting environmental education programs. Japanese efforts in this area will also be coordinated with GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment), which has been promoted by American Vice President Albert Gore Jr. As part of environmental education efforts through UNESCO, Japan will hold an international seminar, on environmental education in Japan in fiscal 1997. Japan will also assist the development of education materials on the environment through the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre to UNESCO, Tokyo, which specialists on environmental education will participate and contribute to the diffusion and improvement of environmental education in the Asia Pacific region. Finally, an "Asia-Pacific Environmental Education Forum" will be established under the rubric of the U.S.-Japan Common Agenda, and will develop and promote programs in line with the results of the "Asia-Pacific Environmental Education Symposium" held last year with Japan-US cooperation.

(6) Promotion of Global Environmental Strategies Towards Sustainable Development

The role of strategy making institutions which are policy oriented and practical are becoming extremely important. For addressing the global environmental crisis and achieving sustainable development on a global level, regional cooperation and intergovernmental policy coordination needs to proceed smoothly to foster this. What is needed is a strategy followed by the policies of national/local governments and international organizations and by actions of business communities and NGOs. Such a strategy needs to be developed from a neutral position independent of conflicts of interests among countries and various social sectors. Japan takes the initiative for building such an international network in strategy creating "The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies", the activities of which include the development of new policy implementation methods to tackle global environmental issues.