Asia Pacific mulls green task force

Mainichi, Monday 4 September 2000

KITAKYUSHU—Asia-Pacific nations taking part in a regional environmental conference here agreed Sunday to set up a task force of experts this year to present desirable models for sustainable development, with the aim of promoting environmentally sound economic growth.

Representatives from the 40 countries participating in Eco Asia 2000 agreed to ask 10 to 20 influential intellectuals to compile a report on development models, with the aim of presenting it internationally in 2004.

Proposed by Japan, the measure aims to present a clearer vision of the concept of sustainable development, which was recognized as a basic goal of global environmental policy at the 1992 Earth Summit, a U.N.-sponsored forum on the environment and development held in Rio de Janeiro.

Each country at Sunday's conference was asked to register possible candidates for the task force in the next three weeks, so that the group can start work by the year-end.

It is hoped the task force's report will press industrialized countries and international organizations to work toward sustainable development.

The agreement was made at the end of the conference's session on regional cooperation toward the success of the Rio+10 U.N. Conference on the Environment and Development slated for 2002, a follow-up to the Earth Summit.

The one-day meeting, mainly organized by the Environment Agency, also discussed the U.N. conference on climate change scheduled for November in The Hague.

The Hague conference is expected to decide on concrete measures to reduce greenhouse gases, paving the way for the ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires developed countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012.

Earlier in Sunday's meeting, Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said the solidarity is important in developing a new economy to solve environmental problems.

Kitakyushu Mayor Koichi Sueyoshi highlighted the city's experience of overcoming severe pollution with the cooperation of local and central governments, citizens, businesses and researchers. He also underscor ed the importance of municipalities' initiatives in promoting sustainable development.

At the end of the meeting, delegates, including 23 ministers, adopted a chairperson's summary to be forwarded to a two-day environment ministers meeting of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, which starts Monday. (Compiled from Mainichi and wire reports)