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City of Kitakyushu, "The World Capital of Sustainable Development Which Contribute to the World through Human Resource Development"

2005-11-20author:Koichi Sueyoshisource:

  1. Introduction 

  ・ CCICED brings back memories of September of 1994 when I joined the general assembly here in Beijing as a special council member and had the honor to make a proposal for the "Dalian Environmental Demonstration Zone Project."

  ・ I am very happy that Dalian, which is a friendship city to us, improved its environment and was consequently awarded with "The Global 500" from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

   2. "Asian Economy: Self-Sustained Engine of Growth" and Environment and Resource Problems

  ・ Asia is an engine of economic growth in the world and at the same time, a region where we are quite concerned about a variety of problems because of serious pollution and environmental issues and rising prices for energy and resources.

  ・ There is also an apprehension that the economic growth of the present may have to be halted once false perspectives on environment, resources and energy are uncovered in this region.

  ・ I understand the leaders of this great nation have deeply recognized that the "Environment, Resources, and Energy" is one of the most important agendas, and that the country has been making a nationwide effort on searching for solutions to these problems.

  3. Kitakyushu's Experience in Getting Pollution under Control : A Miracle and Its Factors

  ・ The City of Kitakyushu, which had developed as a heavy chemical industry area, suffered from severe pollution.

  ・ However, it recovered from the scourge like a miracle within the very short period of 20-30 years.

  ・ What were the factors for the miracle? I would like to emphasize three facts, among others, behind the scene.

  ・ They were: 1) governmental intervention; 2) multi-stakeholder involvement; and 3) corporate social responsibility.

  ・ Are the urban problems such as pollution and environmental issues automatically solved by the "invisible hand" if left in the hand of market economy? This was not the case in the City of Kitakyushu. The full governmental intervention, such as "command and control" and subsidies were demonstrated in full and led us to success in conquering pollution.

  ・ Those in charge were stakeholders in various fields, each of which carried out duties and responsibilities, playing respective roles through active exchange and communications and many conferences to facilitate environmental improvement.

  ・ At the end, a remarkable environmental reform was achieved based on the philosophy of "corporate social responsibility" to communities, and the industries agreed to comply with severer regulations than national law.

  ・ These factors have been taken over by the idea and policies for creating a resource circulating society since then to form the solid foundation for a sustainable society. In other words, those are very valuable "treasures" of the City of Kitakyushu.

  4. Revaluation and Practice of "Asian Value System"

  ・ We have our own ideas about effective use of "resources and energy" and about "corporate social responsibility (CSR)" based on the important philosophy symbolized by expressions such as "Mottai-nai," or "shame to waste," and "Sanpo-yoshi," or "all perfect and no problem." This is an important philosophy not only for the people in Asian Pacific region but also for the world.

  ・ The concept of "Mottai-nai" is to highly value and conserve resources and energy, and to use them as efficiently as possible, which, today, is described as 3Rs, namely Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

  ・ The concept of "Sanpo-yoshi" is a philosophy historically held by merchants in the Ohmi area in Japan, which relates to the idea that "when the seller, purchaser, and the public are all satisfied, there is no problem." It is the basic idea of how companies should conduct businesses. They should not be concerned about only the company itself, clients and consumers but also the public and the society.

  ・ The social responsibility for the "environment, resources and energy" is, therefore, naturally included here.

  ・ I believe that these ideas are worth practicing as "basic principles" for enterprises not only in the East Asian region but also in all parts of the world.

  5. Building Infrastructure for A Resource Circulating Society and Economy

  ・ Kitakyushu is a city with infrastructure for basic materials industry. We have aggressively worked on controlling pollutants in the production process and on recycling materials since the days when we were obliged to contrive measures against pollution.

  ・ Companies desperately worked on conservation of resources and energy saving to reduce product cost, to weather situations of export industry due to the two energy crises and to shift of the exchange system to floating yen. This experience resulted in producing the state of the art technology referred to as a "Cleaner Production Technology," which contributed immensely to the world environmental preservation.

  ・ In order to transfer such technologies to developing countries in Asia and other parts of the world, we have conducted many human resource development programs on "cleaner production" and "energy management technology."

  ・ I would like to briefly introduce our training programs.

  <Personnel Training Programs>

  - Kitakyushu International Techno-Cooperative Association (KITA) was established by the investment of many companies in the city including the city government in July, 1980. This was the beginning of an international cooperation in our city.

  - Activities started around the training projects focused on industries such as steel producing technology and plant maintenance.

  - The training project concerning the environmental preservation technology was begun in fiscal 1986, thus, starting a full-scale international environmental cooperation.

  - Thirty eight international training courses have been established and currently operated under KITA including "energy management" and "maintenance engineering for cleaner production."

  - More than 4,000 trainees have finished training courses acquiring practical skills in Kitakyushu since the establishment of KITA. They are presently playing an active role in all parts of the world.

  ・ These technologies are targeted at production processes that are called "arterial industries." However, they are now being applied to the "vein industries" recycling discarded products. And one of them is the Eco-Town Project.

  ・ I would like to give you a simple profile of the Kitakyushu Eco-Town Project.

  <Eco-Town Project>

  - The Kitakyushu Eco-Town Project was inaugurated in July, 1997 in order to promote the formation of resource-circulating society.

  - This is an advanced base of the so-called "vein industries" for reusing and recycling various wastes produced from the daily life of city residents and businesses.

  - A leading Japanese recycling industry complex has been built in Kitakyushu Eco-Town where over twenty companies are located. They specialize in used cars, discarded home electronic appliances, PET bottles, office equipment, food wastes, waste material from construction, demolition wastes, etc.

  - There are several reasons why such a recycling industry complex was built in Kitakyushu.

  - They are: 1) existence of competent engineers and accumulation of environmental industrial technology; 2) existence of a vast industrial site; 3) geographic location as a distribution base; 4) achievement and succession of collaborative activities by multi-stakeholders; 5) disclosing information including risks and interactive communications with citizens; and 6) efficient governmental interventions through regulations, financial assistance and guidance.

  - The government played a big role in its intervention in upgrading recycling laws and regulations, coordination among stakeholders, collecting wastes and refuses in wide areas, market development of recycled products, improving subsidy program for attracting companies, etc.

  - The integrated collaboration between Kitakyushu Science and Research Park for basic research and Eco-Town's Practical Research Area for experimental study turned out to be a mainspring of the successful development of the Eco-Town Project.

  - Additionally, the waste produced from recycling plants is recycled in others in Eco-Town and energy is collected from the residue in the final processes by the refuse-incineration power generator in the town to supply power to these factories.

  - Thus, a most effective recycling system unparalleled in the world has been completed.

  6. "Kitakyushu, the World Capital of Sustainable Development" Contributing to the World in Human Resource Development

  ・ The time has changed from "dominance and monoculture" to "symbiosis and diversity." Such an idea of "symbiosis" is indispensable to value the environment and to create a resource circulating society.

  ・ While incorporating the existing policies such as those for Eco-Town, the City of Kitakyushu has newly started building the "World Capital of Sustainable Development" through multi-stakeholders system.

  ・ Two hundred and fifty concrete projects have just begun to be implemented based on the philosophies such as "symbiosis and joint work."

  ・ What I can clearly state here from our experiences through implementing antipollution measures and from experiences of Eco-Town is how important "human resources" and fostering capacity building are. It was none other than excellent human resources that gave birth to "miracles," supporting various activities as a driving force.

  ・ I am aware that the most pressing future need is to "foster and train personnel" with knowledge and skills who share the thought of "symbiosis" which is indispensable for the environmental age.

  ・ The City of Kitakyushu has accumulated concrete and abundant knowledge and experiences necessary for building a sustainable society in the future such as antipollution measures, cleaner production, building resource circulating society. I believe that it is a "social responsibility of a local government," or "CSR: City's Social Responsibility" to utilize this knowledge and these experiences for the world.

  7. Cooperation in Human Resource Development for Building A Circular Economy in China

  ・ China has worked on building a "circular economy" nationwide, and I understand that you have a profound idea about the importance of human resource development.

  ・ I would like to briefly introduce the personnel training programs for China in the City of Kitakyushu.

  ・ The JICA group training courses on cleaner production have been offered for a long time and three hundred and forty-four Chinese trainees have taken these courses.

  ・ KITA opened international training courses concerning Chinese circular economy in fiscal 2004. Two courses were developed and held four times in total, which are: 1) the short-term course covering approximately ten days for the staff of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) and of the Local Environmental Protection Administration; and 2) the mid-term course of approximately one month for the middle management of the Local Environmental Protection Administration.

  ・ These courses have been highly evaluated and a progressive training approach has been requested to see whether more trainees can be received.

  ・ In response, the City of Kitakyushu has been reviewing the possibility of planning a large-scale international human resource development project. This project is especially aimed at Chinese personnel to learn the Japanese environmental preservation, the 3R policy, and environmental measures by businesses, by taking advantage of our local resources and environmental technology in Kitakyushu.

  ・ We in the City of Kitakyushu, having been highly evaluated on our environmental international cooperation, and having worked on the 3R policy like the Eco-Town projects, and leading outstanding practical projects, would like to accomplish the social responsibility of the local government as one of the most advanced environmental cities.

  ・ Therefore, if it is your idea to program projects to foster and train personnel in numbers for environmental fields in Chinese local organizations, our city will be more than ready to cooperate.

  8. Conclusion

  ・ The "Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development" was adopted in the Johannesburg Summit held in June, 2002. It declared: "it is a general purpose and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development to reduce poverty, change production and consumption patterns, and protect and manage the natural resource base for economic and social development."

  ・ I would like to actively take advantage of the declaration or the action plan pledged by the international society.

  ・ We in the City of Kitakyushu would like to contribute to the world as a member of the world municipalities aiming at "building a resource circulating society" of the 21st century.

  ・ Especially, the City has determined to aim for "Kitakyushu, Contributing to the World through Human Resource Development."

  ・ I will be deeply grateful for opinions and comments from all of you participants.

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