Environment Section Homepage
Messages for the
from the Executive Secretary, ESCAP
from the President, ADB
from the Executive Director, UNEP
from the Governor, Fukuoka Prefecture
from the Mayor, City of Kitakyushu
from the Executive Secretary of ESCAP
The Ministerial Conference on
Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, to be held at
Kitakyushu, Japan, from 31 August to 5 September 2000, will be a
landmark in current efforts to promote sustainable development in the
region. Although the Ministers concerned will be meeting for the fourth
time, this session will carry the additional cachet of being the first
high-level regional environmental gathering of the new millenium. The
Conference will therefore provide the countries of Asia and the Pacific
with a unique opportunity to share experiences related to environmental
issues, and to initiate the formulation of urgently required strategies
for dealing with the enormous environmental challenges that will almost
certainly arise during the course of this century.
The Conference is made even more
significant by the fact that we are approaching the tenth anniversary of
the Rio Summit on Environment and Development, which was held in 1992.
It is anticipated that the participants in the Conference will develop a
Regional Message for Rio + 10 that will evaluate the gains made since
the 1992 Rio Summit while also producing insights and strategies for the
The environmentally and economically
diverse Asia-Pacific region covers slightly less than a quarter of the
world’s land area, yet it contains more than half of the total world
population. During the past century, most countries of Asia and the
Pacific have undergone social, political and economic transformations
that are unparalleled in history. Today, continuing rapid changes, both
in terms of population growth and national economies, are placing even
greater pressure on the environment and natural resources of the region.
This pressure is, in many areas, being exacerbated by poverty.
Several critical environmental issues
have emerged in the light of these transformations. The urban
environment is under serious threat from the deteriorating quality of
air and water, and is overburdened by solid wastes. Some 35 per cent of
the productive land in Asia has already been affected by desertification
through deforestation, poor irrigation and drainage practices, and
inadequate soil conservation. Most of the developing countries within
the region are experiencing steadily worsening water shortages, growing
deterioration of the quality of water resources and, as a consequence,
sectoral conflicts over water allocation. The rich biological resources
of the region have been exploited to an unprecedented degree in the past
half-century, in order to meet the demands of international trade and to
sustain the growing population of the region. In some sectors, for
example, the marine fisheries industry, such exploitation has depleted
resources to the point where sustainable development and management are
seriously threatened. These are but a few of the environmental issues
facing the region.
We are at a stage in the development
of the region where the need for rapid action on issues related to the
environment and its protection has become critical. The forthcoming
Conference will thus provide a forum for policy-makers to address these
issues and establish a strong platform of action aimed at securing a
better environment for present and future generations. I strongly urge
all members and associate members of ESCAP to actively contribute to the
deliberations in Kitakyushu as well as avail themselves of the
opportunities arising from the Conference to widen cooperation in the
fields of environment and development.
Finally, I would like to extend my deep gratitude to
the Government of Japan, Fukuoka Prefecture and the City of Kitakyushu
for hosting this very important event.
Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific ___________________________________
from the President of Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank (ADB) is pleased to co-sponsor the Ministerial
Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED)
with ESCAP, UNEP, other organizations, and the Government of Japan.
environmental management is critical to sustainable development, and as
a consequence, to poverty reduction. Economic growth will be short-lived
if it does not include protection of environmental quality and
conservation of natural resources. Although much of the past damage has
been caused by the lack of understanding and ineffective enforcement of
environmental management, the pressures of poverty and population can
also compound the problem through deforestation, overgrazing, and
overfishing. The rural poor often live in and further degrade fragile
lands and near fragile waters that require sensitive resource management
in the face of increasing degradation. The urban poor who contribute to
overcrowding and urban pollution, suffer from the resulting diseases and
illness of the degraded urban environment. It is therefore important to
empower the poor and to give them a stake in managing the environment
and natural resources.
adoption of poverty reduction as ADB’s overarching objective brings
challenges and opportunities for ADB to sharpen the focus of its
assistance in sustainable management of environmental resources and to
improve the plight of Asia’s rural and urban poor. In response, ADB
has recently embarked on a reformulation of its environment program.
assistance, through an integrated package of capacity building,
investment support and policy advice, will increasingly address the
critical issue of sustainable resource management. It will promote the
conservation of the ecological base of rural livelihoods, including
biodiversity resources; protection of coastal and marine resources; and
prevention of desertification and land degradation. Such environmental
strategies will entail special emphasis on the rights and
responsibilities of indigenous peoples and traditional users and in
turn, may require support for tenurial rights and traditions, and for
moving resources management from government control to co-management by
the government and the people who depend on the resources.
the twin objectives of poverty reduction and environmental protection,
which will lead to sustainable development, is not an easy task.
Extensive work on a massive scale through various stakeholders will have
to be undertaken. Both objectives should be integrated into national
development strategies, sector development policies, and regional and
local development master plans.
holding of the Ministerial Conference is, therefore, a timely
opportunity to discuss the regional state of the environment and the
challenges of sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. The
discussion on a new paradigm of sustainable development for Asia and the
Pacific into the 21st century during the Conference will serve as a
substantive input to the Rio+10 to be held in 2002. I hope that the
policy-makers in the region will also discuss the critical issue of the
environment and social policy integration, which will enable the region
to reduce poverty through environmental improvement and management.
from the Executive Director of UNEP
The United Nations Environment
Programme is pleased to be working in partnership with the United
Nations Economic and Social Commission, the Asian Development Bank and
others in preparing for this conference. We particularly thank the
Government of Japan, the Fukuoka Prefecture and the City of Kitakyushu
for their generous support in hosting the event.
In his recent Millennium Report
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan defined the major challenges
facing the world in the twenty-first century.
He called on heads of State to
spread the benefits of globalization to all people and outlined the
challenges facing the world under the headings of freedom from want,
freedom from fear, and freedom of future generations from the
destruction of the environment. The Secretary-General warned that hardly
anyone has taken on board the severity of the environmental situation.
He called for a new ethic of environmental stewardship; one which
involves more scientific research, a massive increase in public
awareness, and the integration of environmental costs into the economy
through 'green accounting.'
Every two years the United
Nations Environment Programme collates and publishes its Global
Environmental Outlook; an authoritative assessment of the state of the
environment, utilizing the expertise of over 850 people in 100
countries. The GEO-2000 report, published last September, revealed that
full scale emergencies now exist in a number of areas: the world water
cycle seems unlikely to be able to cope with the demands that will be
made on it in the coming decades; land degradation has reduced fertility
and agricultural potential; tropical forest destruction has gone too far
to prevent irreversible damage; many of the planet’s species have
already been lost or condemned to extinction; many marine fisheries have
been grossly over-exploited; more than half the coral reefs are
threatened by human activities; urban air pollution problems are
reaching crisis dimensions in many megacities of the developing world;
and it is probably too late to prevent global warming as a result of
increased greenhouse gas emissions.
The report also found the Asia
and Pacific region faces particularly serious challenges. High
population densities are putting enormous stress on the environment.
Continued rapid economic growth and industrialization are likely to
cause further environmental damage, with the region becoming more
degraded, less forested, more polluted and less ecologically diverse in
the future. Water supply is a serious problem, with a third of Asians
without access to safe drinking water. Energy demand is rising faster
than in any other part of the world and Asia’s style of urbanization
– towards megacities – is likely to compound environmental and
social stresses. In the Pacific there are problems of diminishing
resources and threats from climate-change induced sea level rise.
Some of these issues are local
in nature, but others cross national and regional boundaries and
cooperative action at appropriate levels – particularly sub-regional -
will be needed to address them.
On one side we have all the
evidence of looming environmental crises. On the other hand, there are
grounds for optimism. We have the knowledge and the technology to solve
many of the environmental ills facing our planet. What we need now is
more political will. And I believe it is coming. People – especially
the young – are increasingly aware of and vocal about environmental
issues. In recent months we have seen a strong message of concern
expressed by the NGO community about our environmental future. There are
signs too that this awareness and commitment is spreading to industries
and governments. Environmental policy is being integrated into
mainstream planning instead of being merely an afterthought.
The Asia Pacific region is, in
many ways, a microcosm of the world. Success stories in sustainable
development created here can provide valuable models for other regions.
It is my hope that the fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and
Development in Asia and the Pacific serves to inform and inspire the
other critical environmental meetings on the calendar during these first
few years of the new millennium.
With ESCAP, and our colleagues
from other agencies within and outside the UN system, we stand ready to
assist in the implementation of the regional action programme you will
adopt at this conference. I wish you all a very successful conference
and Iook forward to working with you on its outcomes.
Nations Environment Programme
from the Governor, Fukuoka Prefecture Government
is a great honour for Fukuoka Prefecture to host
the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and
the Pacific (MCED 2000) in Kitakyushu City.
Due to its close proximity to the Asian continent
Fukuoka has, since ancient times, served as a base for exchange and
interaction with Asia. Against this background of historical
interaction, Fukuoka Prefecture is working together with many Asian
countries in such fields as cultural interaction and scientific and
With the aim of creating a"Socio-Economic System
with Environmentally Sound Cycles", Kitakyushu City and Omuta City
are involved in the Ecotown Project, researching and developing new
recycling technologies. Through the Fukuoka Prefecture version of Agenda
21 (the Environmental Conservation Action Plan of Fukuoka Prefecture
established 1997), the prefectural government, private citizens and
businesses are working together to positively promote local and
international environmentalism. Combating global warming is a high
priority. For example Fukuoka Prefecture Government is monitoring levels
of acid rain.
I believe that MCED 2000 is a great opportunity to
increase recognition of environmental issues within Fukuoka and I hope
that it will serve to further advance efforts towards environmental
I also believe that holding MCED 2000 in Kitakyushu
City, which has overcome its own legacy of industrial pollution, is
significant. This will aid the achievement of the conference's goals.
Fukuoka Prefecture Government is working together
with ESCAP, the Government of Japan and the City of Kitakyushu toward
the success of MCED 2000 and other associated events.
I hope that all the participants in the meeting can
take some time to get to know something of Fukuoka, its unique culture
and the friendliness of its people. There are also many environment
related industries in Kitakyushu City so I hope the participants can
visit at least some of them during their stay.
I eagerly await your arrival in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Mr. Wataru Aso
Fukuoka Prefecture Government, Japan
Prefecture Government, Japan
from the Mayor, City of Kitakyushu
a major metropolitan area with a population of one million, is located
midway between Shanghai and Tokyo. Developed as one of Japan’s leading
industrialized zones following World War II, Kitakyushu’s extensive
industrial structure gave rise to severe pollution problems. However,
over a period of 20 years, Kitakyushu succeeded in surmounting this
obstacle through the combined efforts of the government, industry,
academia and citizens.
the experiences and technology gained during this period, Kitakyushu is
now enthusiastically working to promote international cooperation in the
environmental field by dispatching experts overseas, carrying out
international training courses, and coordinating international
environmental conferences. Additionally, the city is actively involved
in fostering the growth of "eco-business", an industry
expected flourish in the 21st century. With its reputation as an
"eco-friendly" city, Kitakyushu’s efforts in overcoming
pollution and promoting international environmental cooperation have won
international recognition, including the UN’s Global 500 Award,
presented in 1990 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and
the UN’s Local Government Honours, awarded in 1992 at the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Brazil.
realization of a resource circulating society is an integral part of
environmental conservation. From the position that waste can be a
valuable resource, the city is moving ahead with the "Kitakyushu
Eco-Town Project", an ambitious program focusing on practical
research and the industrialization of waste management and recycling.
Recognized by the national government in 1997, the Eco-Town Project
strives towards the goal of "zero emissions" – reducing
waste products from daily life and industrial activities and effectively
utilizing them as materials in different industries. Activities
currently in operation in the Eco-Town project include office equipment,
automobile, and home appliance recycling factories and practical
research on environmental technology for waste ash and biodegradable
the start of this 21st century, the "eco-century", the City of
Kitakyushu is pleased to be the site of the "4th Ministerial
Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED
2000)", which, this year, is being held concurrently with the
"Environment Congress for Asia and the Pacific (ECO ASIA)".
This comprehensive regional environmental forum will open the door to
deeper discussions on environmental issues, strengthen ties and
cooperation activities within the region to combat environmental
problems, and promote environmental policies. These two highly acclaimed
conferences are expected to raise the curtain on a new era of
environmental restoration and creation in the Asia-Pacific region.
behalf of the citizens of the City of Kitakyushu, I would like to extend
a personal invitation to you to join us as the "eco-century"
unfolds and create a stronger and more prosperous era of environmental
conservation in our region. We look forward to a most successful
conference this August and September and to welcoming you to Kitakyushu.
of Kitakyushu, Japan
of Kitakyushu, Japan