Care club

A new approach to sustainability may serve as the ultimate magic wand for solving global environmental problems

By Shegeki Wakayama
Published: Sunday 31 December 1995

Waste gatherers. In search of< JAPAN would now go for an increase in Green areas and environment-friendly by 20 per cent within five 'We do not have any magical way go& CM solve global environmental at once. We must do our best F seep in local communities where Tadamori Oshima, minister of agency of Japan, at the World on Local for Sustainable Yokohama November 2-4.

For this purpose, the conproposed setting up a cent Club for Citie' Cities" which of domestic waste waste by 20 per was organised Um LISC was tal Agency and Kanagawa supported by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Authorities from 62 countries including 70 mayors and governors, national governments, international organisations and NGOS participated in the conference. Among the topics discussed were industrial pollution, consumption pattern, city scale and energy/transportation.

Klaus Topfer, minister for regional planning and urban development, Germany, emphasized that the future of mankind will decisively depend on the extent to which worldwide urbanisation could incorporate sustainable development as, at the beginning of the new millennium, one half of the world's population will live in cities. Heitor Gurgulino de Souza, Rector, United Nations University, stated that policy choice in developing countries would balance the trade-off between short- term strategy and long-term goals.

Local governments have important responsibilities towards sustainable development. As local authorities are close to local people, they are able to formulate their policies according to the characteristic of the social and economic activities of the latter.

The conference reported several serious attempts. The Lancashire County Council, UK, has been working for the past two years with local communities. The Institute for 'Sustainable Communities, USA, assists the Central European countries to make sustainable city planning by using risk concept and cost- benefit analysis. The Manus Provintional Government in Papua New Guinea identifies 12 development indicators. Cape Town City in South Africa is busy bridging wide social gaps caused by apartheid.

An important factor identified for sustainable development was local government autonomy. For instance, in Japan in the '70s, prefectures government, cities, towns and even village offices imposed stricter emission regulations on industry than did the central government. Although at times this led to conflicts, the central government began to adopt measures at the local level. In fact, Japan owes most of its environmental achievements to the local bodies.

And as Japan's new basic environmental policy plan lacks a solid numerical target, it is opposed by business circles and ministries like the ministry of industry and trade. So, the Environmental Agency initially began establishing local numerical environmental targets together with foreign cities thereby settina UD a de facto national tareet.

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