Conclusions and Recommendations Expert Group Meeting 9-10 August 2001
United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, Thailand
The Meeting adopted the following conclusions and recommendations as guidance for the further implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment:
- The Meeting recognized that the Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment was an important commitment to achieve measurable progress in improving the urban environment in major cities in the region, which should be reported to the next Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, to be held in 2005. The Meeting emphasized that, in implementing the Kitakyushu Initiative, activities should be formulated and implemented in a pragmatic way so that they could best bring about short-term impacts in improving urban environmental quality.
- The Meeting reaffirmed the usefulness of quantitative indicators and targets as urban environmental management tools. It was emphasized that the application of specific indicators should be considered depending on the specific situation as well as the specific concerns of different municipalities. The selection of such specific indicators and setting of targets might be performed through a participatory approach, in which the role of the media was significant, while the use of quantitative indicators would also facilitate participatory decision-making on environmental policies through information-sharing among stakeholders.
- In promoting the use of quantitative indicators, the potential benefits that people could gain from the use of such indicators should be clearly identified and demonstrated. It was considered that best practices regarding the use of quantitative indicators to address specific sector problems would be beneficial, and the collection and dissemination of information on such cases were necessary.
- The Meeting noted that the development of a common indicator system for the Kitakyushu Initiative might be useful to promote comparability and enhance the transferability of urban environmental management policies and practices. This would also be useful in disseminating environmental information. The possibility of developing such a system should be examined taking into account the existing indicator systems and programmes and the availability of the necessary information in the participating municipalities.
- The Meeting also noted that a number of instances of international cooperation, including bilateral or multilateral programmes, had already been formulated to address urban environmental challenges as well as inter-city environmental cooperation. Activities to implement the Kitakyushu Initiative should be developed to best promote synergy and integration with those existing programmes. In implementing the Kitakyushu Initiative, efforts should be made to promote access by local practitioners to different international programmes, as well as to ensure that participation in an international programme would benefit the implementation of national and local programmes and result in tangible improvement of urban environmental quality at the ground level.
- The Meeting noted with appreciation the presentation of country reports by the participants, which provided basic information for planning and coordinating support for national activities to implement the Kitakyushu Initiative, such as the organization of national seminars and pilot projects. It was suggested that assessment of the potential of the Kitakyushu Initiative in specific countries could also be conducted jointly by national authorities, ESCAP and relevant research institutions, such as IGES.
- The Meeting noted that activities should also be developed at the municipal level to identify new best practices and formulate pilot projects to review the effectiveness of different approaches in urban environmental improvement and support ongoing efforts, in cooperation with national Governments. The participants were reminded that a questionnaire survey was being conducted to collect first-hand information on the current situations of the local governments as well as to establish direct communication channels for subsequent exchanges and requested support in encouraging local governments to respond to the questionnaire. The Meeting was informed that the questionnaire survey would be followed up by expert visits to be arranged by IGES in order to identify an initial set of selected best practices, as a menu of replicable practices to be presented at the first meeting of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network.
- The Meeting noted that the most useful and relevant best practices in which results were quantitatively proven should be applied. Case studies and pilot projects should be conducted focusing on air, water and solid waste, with expansion into other areas in the future. The development of an incentive mechanism for the Kitakyushu Initiative Network was encouraged, as well as benefits for local governments. The Meeting acknowledged that the involvement of a variety of stakeholders was important to share information with other concerned parties.
- The Meeting recognized the importance of the existence of a simple, focused information network in implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative, as well as the continuing need for traditional information tools. It was emphasized that ownership of information tools and the Network itself should be addressed to stimulate active participation of stakeholder and develop new ideas. Recognizing existing gaps in the provision of information and communication technologies and associated infrastructure among countries and cities in the region, the Meeting noted that the issue of Internet accessibility should be considered in the development of network and information tools, as well as the need for a common, familiar language. Noting the importance of compatibility among information tools for the Kitakyushu Initiative and other information-rich networks and programmes, the development of a common mechanism was emphasized to enhance public accessibility and capacities. Offers of assistance from AFEJ and TUGI, as well as other participants, in the translation of information tools and dissemination of information for the Kitakyushu Initiative were gratefully received.
- The Meeting endorsed the general concept of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network, including its purpose of promoting urban environmental management approaches, facilitating enhanced interaction among local governments, international initiatives and other relevant organizations including media and further expansion of inter-city cooperation. The Meeting also endorsed the holding of the first meeting of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network at Kitakyushu, Japan, from 20 to 21 November 2001, with support from the Government of Japan. The Meeting recommended that local government experiences, including successful and unsuccessful practices, should be addressed at the first meeting of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network, with potential recommendations from national Governments and experts throughout the region. As further details of the organization would be developed based on the comments made by the participants and in consultation with host institutions, the participants were further requested to provide advice on practical elements, such as local government invitees and the contents of their possible presentations.
- The Meeting expressed its appreciation to IGES for providing support for the implementation of the Kitakyushu Initiative, including the development of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network.