Awaji Conference Statement 2001

Statement for Sustainable Development and the Environment in the Asia Pacific Region

The Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan 2001
(August 4th 2001, Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center)

[ Preamble ]

In 1 A.D. global population is estimated to have been in the region of 400 million, and at the turn of the twentieth century, 1,900 years later, it had multiplied fourfold to 1.6 billion.
However, in the space of only the 20th century, global population grew approximately four times to 6 billion. Moreover, there have been marked improvements in peoples' standard of living and the development of means of survival acquired by humankind since the industrial revolution is truly phenomenal.

Humankind in the 21st century, on the one hand, fears domestic and global economic recession, and stands in need of further economic development to conquer widespread poverty.
On the other hand, we are obliged to face up to the fact that humankind's activities, which have grown exponentially, are exhausting the world of its resources and grievously damaging the Earth's environment. It is apparent even now that if humankind in the 21st century is unable to discover the wisdom to develop in a manner that will restore the natural environment, it will result in the destruction of global ecology, which serves as the foundation of human existence.

Accordingly, we held intensive discussions for two days at the Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan 2001 on the theme of "Sustainable Development and the Environment in the Asia Pacific Region."

In the Asia Pacific region, which today accounts for 3.7 billion of the total global population of 6 billion, the felling and fire-induced reduction of tropical rainforests, the Earth's forest resource, and desertification in northern continental Asia are advancing simultaneously.
Along with increased levels of acid rain brought about by industrialization and intensification of urban pollution, there are growing concerns that lowlands and islands will become submerged under water as a consequence of global warming.
The intermittent occurrence of climate change and disasters is particularly dangerous for the destitute. Such circumstances signal how important it is for humankind to enhance international frameworks on a global scale in order to address such concerns.

Next year, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg is scheduled to be held and will discuss sustainable development and other themes, marking the tenth anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Humankind must make it a success. Though it has been acknowledged that countries have fallen out of step involving the ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol (Third Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (COP3)), repeated tenacious efforts are essential so as to culminate in an approach based on global cooperation that encompasses industrialized nations and developing countries without having the United States withdraw from the Protocol.

When considering the magnitude and broadness of the issues, our approach must be equally pluralistic and multilayered. It is vital that this approach is at the international framework level. At the same time, efforts that bestride both government and private sector levels in countries and regions are indispensable. It is not possible to overcome global issues without the participation of diverse interested parties (multi-stake holders) in the activities and decision-making process. To achieve sustainable development we must seek security for humankind and the planet by departing from one-sided policies that consider economic growth a panacea, respecting the needs of civil society, and enhancing environmental democracy based on a mature understanding of the issues.

Singapore's promotion of the Garden City Plan, which aims to reconcile affluence with the environment, under powerful political leadership, was reported as a specific case study at the Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan 2001. Furthermore, it was revealed that the very venue of the Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan 2001 was restored to a verdant park from desolate land that had been used for landfill, and that a private movement is developing to revive the natural environment on the islands in the Seto Inland Sea, where life perished amid industrialization, and to make the islands a place for the people to achieve peace of mind.
Reports were also given of instances where non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been successful in distributing pamphlets to islanders explaining simply the scientific know-how to combat the tsunami that strike islands in the Pacific Ocean. Public and private sector efforts should be developed in a complementary manner and not selectively.
Furthermore, the importance of sharing environmental information, environmental education and human resources development was confirmed.

The concept of sustainable development aims at reconciling economic development with the environment. If viewed from the objective of sustainable forestry, there are areas that may be dealt with by altering one's perception and a number of issues that new technological developments will solve, for instance, so that benefits may be enjoyed in the long term all the more. Promotion of corporate management that cares for the environment and produces products which improve the environment must be stepped up as something that will lead the world for a long time. Moreover, industrialized nations, particularly Japan in Asia, should direct official development assistance (ODA) at environmental cooperation when one considers the disparities between industrial nations and developing countries, and the difficult situation developing countries face shouldering the cost of environmental improvements while embracing the serious challenges of poverty and the environment.

In order for Japan to continue to play a constructive role toward sustainable development in Asia, it is vital that Japan for its part ensures the success of its bold economic structural reforms restoring a sound and vibrant economy and society. Furthermore, we must strive to overcome confrontation and distrust stemming from past wars and contribute to the environment of the Asia Pacific region, an international public good, to establish cooperative international relations in Asia. Moreover, it is Japanese society itself that should set its objective to overcoming its history of harsh treatment of the earth during its industrialization to revive the beauty of its cities and society brimming with natural verdure and flowers.

In recent years, Japan, among other countries in Asia, has become increasingly dependent on Middle East oil. It is essential that Japan reconciles economic security and the environment by channeling its efforts into diversification through procurement of natural gas from Far East Russia, which places little burden on the environment, ensuring the safety of nuclear power and developing clean new energy sources, among other means.

~Accordingly, we urgently statement for the following:~

The establishment of a cooperative framework through industrialized nations and developing countries on the global environment;

A strengthening of Japanese environmental ODA;

Enhancement of meticulous and eminently imaginative activities by NGOs and activities by private enterprise incorporating environmental technological cooperation;

Development of reforestation activities in conjunction with the private and public sectors to prevent further desertification and restore oxygen levels by curbing global CO2.

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