3. Building a Sustainable and Resilient International Community through Efforts to Address Global Issues
As globalization advances, transboundary challenges facing humanity such as environmental issues, climate change, water-related issues, large-scale natural hazards, infectious diseases, food issues, and energy issues significantly affect not only developing countries but also the international community as a whole. These global issues cannot be solved by a single country, and require united efforts by the international community.
In July 2017, the United Nations High-level Political Forum was held in New York for international follow-up on the SDGs. Forty-three countries including Japan presented their own initiatives regarding the 2030 Agenda. On the occasion, then Foreign Minister Kishida declared Japan's strong commitment to promoting the SDGs in both aspects of domestic implementation and international cooperation, in order to create a diverse and inclusive society where “no one will be left behind” through the implementation of the SDGs.
(1) Environment and Climate Change Actions
Environment and climate change issues have been repeatedly taken up as one of the main topics at the G7/8 and G20 Summits, and the importance of tackling these issues has been growing in international recognition in recent years. For example, these topics were also brought up in the 2030 Agenda adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Japan has been vigorously working on addressing these issues, and will continue to actively participate in discussions in the international community.
•Environmental Pollution Control Measures
Japan has accumulated abundant knowledge, experience and technology related to environmental pollution control measures, and has been utilizing them to solve pollution problems in developing countries. At the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the “Minamata Convention on Mercury” held in Japan in 2013, Japan took the lead in the adoption of the “Minamata Convention on Mercury” as the chair. In the conference, Japan announced the provision of $2 billion ODA support over the three years from 2014 as measures against environmental contamination in developing countries, as well as the human resources development assistance dedicated to the prevention of mercury contamination, while showing the international community Japan's proactive attitude towards establishing countermeasures for global environmental pollution.
The Minamata Convention entered into force in August 2017, and the First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties was held in Geneva, Switzerland in September the same year. Japan has accumulated the technology and know-how to prevent damage caused by mercury, through experience of Minamata disease.(Note 29) At the conference, Japan expressed its intention to exercise continuous leadership by proactively transferring such technology and know-how to the world in cooperation with other countries, for the purpose of promoting global mercury countermeasures.
Climate change is a global issue that requires a cross-border approach, and calls for strengthening concerted efforts by the international community including both developed and developing countries. Due to the fact that the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997 imposed the obligations of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions only on developed countries, the Paris Agreement was adopted at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) (held in Paris in 2015) as a new framework under which all countries would work towards GHG emission reductions. The Paris Agreement entered into force in 2016, and COP22 was held in Marrakech during the same year setting the deadline at 2018 for adopting guidelines to implement the Agreement. Towards the adoption of the implementation guidelines, COP23 held in November 2017 made a certain degree of achievement including the development of a concrete outline and elements of the guideline, corresponding to the progress of discussions on each field. At the same time, the parties affirmed steady progress towards a goal of provision of $100 billion by 2020 from developed countries to developing countries as funds for climate change countermeasures. In 2018, facilitative dialogues will be held to review the progress of global efforts towards reducing GHG emissions. At COP23, this dialogue platform was designed while naming it “Talanoa” which means transparency, inclusiveness, and harmony in Fijian by the proposal of Fiji, the COP23 chair.
Japan is also steadily working to achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)* to reduce GHG emissions by a level of 26% compared to FY2013 (down by 25.4% compared to FY2005) in FY2030, and is proactively engaged in promoting the development of innovative technologies in the fields of environment and energy, as well as supporting climate change actions in developing countries.
As part of this initiative, Japan has been promoting the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM),* which facilitates the global diffusion of advanced low-carbon technologies. The JCM is a mechanism to evaluate Japan's contributions to GHG emission reductions or removals in a quantitative manner and use them to achieve Japan's emission reduction target through the diffusion of low-carbon technologies and implementation of climate change actions in developing countries. Japan signed the first bilateral document pertaining to JCM implementation with Mongolia in 2013, and has accordingly established the JCM with 17 countries as of the end of 2017. Since 2016, JCM credits have been issued from energy-saving and renewable energy projects in Indonesia, Mongolia, Palau, and Viet Nam. Those JCM projects have been contributing to the global emission reduction.
In addition to these efforts, Japan also supports developing countries to tackle climate change through its contributions to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).* A total of 53 projects have been approved by GCF to date. Since JICA was accredited as an implementing entity in July 2017, Japan can be involved in projects from the phase of project formulation.
Furthermore, climate change has also been captured as one of the most serious issues that threaten security and economic prosperity on a global scale. Therefore, continuing discussions have been held through the process of the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting under the theme of “Climate Change and Fragility.” Japan served as the G7 chair in 2016, and took the lead in these discussions. In January 2017, Japan convened the Roundtable Seminar on Climate Change and Fragility Implications on International Security, and consolidated knowledge and information from Japan and abroad. With the cooperation of research institutions and experts in Japan, the Government of Japan drew up the “Analysis and Proposal of Foreign Policies Regarding the Impact of Climate Change on Fragility in the Asia-Pacific Region - With focus on natural disasters in the Region -” and published the results on September 6, 2017. The Government of Japan has been disseminating this report taking various occasions including COP23, and also engaging in discussions with officials of other countries. Such discussions not only serve to strengthen Japan's dissemination of information in the climate change field to external parties, but are also expected to form the basis for cooperation in various diplomatic areas including SDGs, international cooperation, and disaster risk reduction.
Expansion in the types, scope and scale of human activities has given rise to serious concerns about further degradation of habitats and the destruction of the ecosystem in recent years. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted in 1992 since the issues related to living organisms are borderless, and the entire world is required to tackle biodiversity issues. The objectives of the CBD are: (i) conservation of biological diversity; (ii) sustainable use of the components of biological diversity;* and (iii) fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. Developed countries are providing economic and technical assistance to developing countries in order to facilitate the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity worldwide.
Japan places importance on biodiversity, and hosted the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 10) in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture in October 2010. With the aim of building capacity of developing countries towards the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,* Japan contributed to the “Japan Biodiversity Fund,” through which the Secretariat of the Convention organizes workshops in support of the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans by developing countries.
•Conservation of the Marine Environment
The conservation of the marine environment is an urgent issue not only for Japan, which is an island country surrounded by and benefiting from the oceans, but also for the international community.
In June 2017, the UN Ocean Conference for Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) was convened at the UN Headquarters in New York. At the conference, Japan introduced its initiatives to promote the implementation of SDG 14 with a focus on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and maritime resources, as well as its cooperation regarding the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) and the International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Japan also registered voluntary commitments towards the promotion of SDG14, and expressed its continuing commitment to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.
- *Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)
- NDC refers to the GHG emission reduction target prepared by each country itself based on the Paris Agreement Article 4, paragraph 2. The Paris Agreement stipulates that each party shall communicate it every five years and take domestic mitigation measures to achieve its objectives.
- *Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM)
- JCM refers to a mechanism to appropriately evaluate contributions from Japan to GHG emission reductions or removals in a quantitative manner and use them to achieve Japan's emission reduction target through the diffusion of low-carbon technologies, products, systems, services, and infrastructure, as well as implementation of mitigation actions in developing countries.
- *Green Climate Fund (GCF)
- GCF is a fund established by the decision of the Cancun Agreements adopted at COP 16 in 2010, in order to support low-emission (mitigation) and climate-resilient (adaptation) investments in developing countries.
- *Sustainable Use of the Components of Biodiversity
- This refers to maintaining the Earth's biodiversity at the levels of the ecosystem, species, and genes, as well as ensuring the sustainable use of biological resources towards the future. Humans subsist by making use of the components of biodiversity in various forms, including food production and the collection of industrial raw materials. Therefore, it is important to ensure the conservation of biodiversity from the perspective of the sustainable use of its components.
- *Aichi Biodiversity Targets (The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 - 2020)
- Aichi Biodiversity Targets were set out in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 - 2020 of the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted at COP10 in 2010. The strategic plan sets a goal to realize “Living in Harmony with Nature” by 2050, and establishes 20 individual short-term targets called the “Aichi Biodiversity Targets” in order to implement actions to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020.
- Note 29: Minamata disease is a nervous system disorder poisoned by the consumption of seafood that has been contaminated with methylmercury compounds discharged from factories. The disease was officially confirmed in May 1956 in the areas near Minamata Bay in Kumamoto Prefecture, and in May 1965 in Agano River basin of Niigata Prefecture.