Beijing Seminar on the Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment Chairpersons' Summary of Discussions

Organization of the Seminar

The "Beijing Seminar on the Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment" was held on Tuesday, 20 March 2001 at the Sino-Japan Friendship Center for Environmental Protection in Beijing, China. The seminar was organized by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Japan, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN/ESCAP). Additional support was provided by the Embassy of Japan in China, State Environmental Protection Administration (China), Ministry of the Environment (Japan), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Invited representatives from 13 cities in China participated in the Seminar, in addition to the organizers and co-sponsor organizations. The list of participants is attached as Annex 1.

The Seminar was co-chaired by Professor Zhang Kun (Sino-Japan Friendship Center for Environmental Protection) and Professor Hidefumi Imura (IGES), and conducted in two separate sessions; i.e. a formal session in the morning (10:30 - 12:30) and an informal session (14:00 - 16:30). Discussions were also facilitated by Dr. Xia Guang, Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, SEPA.

Opening Session

The formal session was opened with statements from the organizers and co-sponsor organizations (ESCAP, IGES, SEPA, Embassy of Japan in China and ADB). In these opening statements, it was presented that the principal objective of the seminar was to raise awareness on the "Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment" (hereafter referred to as the Kitakyushu Initiative), adopted at the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific 2000, among Chinese cities, and to exchange information and views on prospective implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China. The presenters and participants shared the view that urgent actions are needed to avoid public health problems caused by environmental pollution; while Chinese cities are eagerly implementing measures on urban environmental management, in particular, in view of sustainable cities promoted by the national government, the following would be indispensable to effectively achieve environmentally-sound urban development: enhancement of institutional and human capacity, transfer of experiences of advanced environmental management such as successful policy measures and applicable technologies, and mobilization of financial resources from international donor community.

Presentations and Discussions

Keynote presentations were delivered by Professor Hidefumi Imura and Professor Zhang Kun. Professor Imura presented background information on the formulation and adoption of the Kitakyushu Initiative, and also presented a range of proposed activities for region-wide implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative for 2001-2005, which were currently being consulted among ESCAP, IGES and other collaborating institutions. Such proposed activities would include the following elements:

  • Identification of quantitative indicators to assess urban environmental improvement
  • Compilation and analysis of best practices in urban environmental management
  • Implementation of viable pilot programs for urban environmental improvement, and
  • Establishment of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network

It was also presented that the First Meeting of Kitakyushu Initiative Network would be held in October/November 2001, as the first milestone of the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative.

Professor Zhang provided a review on the latest development of urban environmental quality in China, as well as China's national programmes for urban environmental management, such as an environmental protection responsibility system, urban environmental quality examination system, and designation of model cities. These programmes are significantly effective in achieving measurable improvement in urban environmental quality, in particular, some medium-sized cities have developed unique programmes adaptable to local conditions, and yet they also need improve their environmental management for sustainable cities. . Therefore, international programmes should most effectively target Chinese medium-sized cities, which account for 83% of the cities in China, and assist their efforts in urban environmental management. He presented that the participants of the present seminar had been invited mostly from medium and small sized cities in the same context, so that they could possibly be interested in participating in the Kitakyushu Initiative.

In response to the keynote presentations, the following issues were discussed by the participants as essential elements to be taken into account in the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China.

The Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment has been adopted as a special implementation mechanism for the selected programme areas of Regional Action Programme 2001 - 2005, i.e. environmental quality and human health. As the Regional Action Programme 2001 - 2005 itself covers broader aspects ranging eight programme areas, the Kitakyushu Initiative has a more focused scope and specific mandate to achieve measurable progress in improvement of the urban environment within the given timeframe. Activities to implement the Kitakyushu Initiative in China should be designed principally to meet this basic requirement and should not be unnecessarily broadened.

The proposed region-wide programme to implement the Kitakyushu Initiative has a number of common elements with China's national programme on urban environmental management, such as introduction of the indicator system for urban environmental quality, setting of quantitative goals, designation of model cities, etc. In designing activities to implement the Kitakyushu Initiative in China, the existing Chinese system should be most respected, while the replicability of Chinese system in other countries in the region should also be studied.

Balanced attention should be paid to the national policies and local initiatives. While local initiatives and actions are intended to be strengthened through the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China, national policies must also be reinforced. In China, leadership of the national government has been particularly strong in guiding local governments for making steady progress in urban environmental management.

Public participation plays an important role in the improvement of the environment as it is stipulated as an indispensable element in the Kitakyushu Initiative. Studies should be conducted on measures for promoting public participation and enhancing partnerships, such as awareness raising programmes, participatory environmental education, information dissemination, etc.

Personnel training is significant. Although staff capacity has become enhanced in environmental administration at the national level, it is still low at the local levels. It was suggested that cases that demonstrate a model for personnel training to enhance local capacity should be selected.

Financial support should be considered, where appropriate, to facilitate the participation of Chinese cities in the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative. Financial resources are expected to be mobilized from donor agencies from developed countries and international financial institutions, in addition to support from national governments.

It was highlighted that the implementation of Kitakyushu Initiative essentially calls for the participation of a number of local governments, and the participation of Chinese cities would be crucial in view of region-wide implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative. However, the modality of participation might be different from one city to another, i.e. for example, participation in Network communications, participation in workshops and seminars, participation in pilot project implementation. It was emphasized that the participating cities should be fully informed of the benefits and obligations associated with their participation

The participants expressed their appreciation to IGES for organizing the seminar, and to the Sino-Japan Friendship Center for Environmental Protection for hosting and servicing the seminar, which provided an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness on the Kitakyushu Initiative and exchange views on its implementation in China. It was also requested that IGES and the Sino-Japan Friendship Center for Environmental Protection should continue their support in promoting the effective implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China.

Informal Session

The participants continued the informal discussions after a lunch break. The session was dedicated principally for questions and answers on the IGES's proposals on viable projects for the implementation of Kitakyushu Initiative in China, and exchange of basic information on the urban environmental problems and controls in the participating cities.

In response to the request by the Chinese participants, Professor Imura of IGES outlined the possible benefits and obligations associated with the participation in the Kitakyushu Initiative Network. The benefits may include:

Information on urban environmental management will be exchanged through the network and successful experiences on best management practices will be mutual not only within a country but also throughout the region.

The Network offers better chances for requests from developing country cities to be liaised to relevant institutions and taken up by their assistance programmes, such as expert support technical cooperation joint research and/or advisory mission, etc.

Transfer of specific policy measures and/or technologies will be promoted by the network coordinator, e.g. by matching those cities which have successful experiences in applying such measures and those which are suffering from similar environmental problems and need assistance for control, by drawing the attention of donor agencies to the intercity cooperation projects as highly prospective.

On the other hand, the obligations may include:

The participating local governments are requested to communicate internationally on their situation of environmental quality and problems, past experiences and achievements in the urban environmental management, and their challenges and requirement for assistance.

The participating local governments are also requested to take an active role in joint research that may possibly be fielded by international experts at their cities for examining the models of urban environmental management to be developed for region-wide application.

The representatives of the participating cities were invited to portray their situation of environmental quality and problems, and past experiences and achievements in the urban environmental management. Their provisional views on the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China were also presented. A number of participants expressed their interests and the readiness of their cities in participating in the activities for implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative.

The experts from the Sino-Japan Friendship Center for Environmental Protection (Environment and Economic Policy Research Center) reaffirmed the importance of conformity with Chinese national systems and situations in formulating the activities for implementation of the Kitakyushu initiative in China. In addition, Dr Xia expressed his expectation for active participation by local governments in China in the Kitakyushu Initiative Network, and their cooperation in expanding the Network. He also expressed that the Sino-Japan Friendship Center for Environmental Protection would be able to cooperate with IGES and to play an overall coordinating role for the activities for implementation of the Kitakyushu initiative in China.

Mr Tang Dingding of the Asian Development Bank underlined the importance placed by ADB on urban environmental improvement and promoting cooperation with national and local governments. He presented that, operating a number of technical assistance projects addressing urban environmental issues in China, ADB would have various opportunities to cooperate in the activities to implement the Kitakyushu Initiative. In addition, ADB-sponsored "Second Mayors' Asia-Pacific Environmental Summit", to be held in Honolulu, the United States of America, from 4 to 6 May 2001, would also be a valuable occasion to increase the outreach of the Kitakyushu Initiative in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

The expert from the Department of Pollution Control of SEPA stated on the policies of the Chinese Government to address urban environmental management, which were firmly programmed in the five-year national development plans, and their successfulness in improving the urban environmental quality. He welcomed the Kitakyushu Initiative as the opportunity for the Chinese cities to share with others their experience that may be applicable to other cities too, and commended the high expectation and desire by the Chinese Cities to cooperate in the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China. He requested that IGES and ESCAP should continue to develop further detailed plan for possible activities for implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China, including number and contents of the pilot projects, criteria for the selection of the cities to participate in the pilot projects, and communicate with the relevant Chinese cities as soon as possible.

Mr Ichimura of ESCAP welcomed the interest expressed by the participants, concerning the participation of their institutions in the activities for implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China. It was assured that IGES and ESCAP would take steps to elaborate the plans for implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China, in consultations with relevant institutions and authorities. In closing, he expressed appreciation to the participants for the comments and ideas put forth at the seminar which should be regarded as an effective first step in the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative in China.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific


Environment Section
Environment and Sustainable Development Division
United Nations Building, Rajdamnern Avenue
Bangkok 10200 Thailand
Email: escap-esdd-evs@un.org

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies


Kitakyushu Initiative Network Secretariat
3-9-30 Asano, Kokurakita-ku
Kitakyushu City 802-0001 Japan
Email: kitakyushu-initiative@iges.or.jp