Diplomatic Bluebook 2001


B. Global Environmental Issues

1. Efforts by the International Community toward Resolving Global Environmental Issues

In recent years, global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer, and other global environmental problems have emerged as potential threats to the continued existence of all humanity. Due to their very nature, such issues cannot be effectively addressed by each country acting alone, and require a joint approach by the international community. Moreover, global environmental issues are very closely related with economic issues, since their resolution may entail changes to the traditional patterns of economic development. While environmental restrictions may slow the pace of economic growth, they also provide opportunities for new types of economic activities. Therefore, it is by no means easy for countries and regions with different economic conditions and developmental stages to coordinate their efforts, and many environmental issues, such as the establishment of new funding mechanisms as well as the respective obligations of developed and developing countries, create sharp divergences between developed and developing countries. Moreover, the developed countries themselves often hold different opinions regarding the required content and extent of efforts. In this context, diplomatic negotiations, through which the international community coordinates opinions and achieves a common agreement, play a significant role in resolving these global environmental issues. Meanwhile, in advancing such environmental diplomacy, there are growing calls for giving due consideration to the Earth's entire environment from a long-term perspective, and for emphasizing the life and health of individual human beings from the human security perspective.

From April to May 2000, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) held its eighth session in New York City; reviewed the progress made in agriculture, trade, investment, and other fields; and discussed the holding of a 2002 "Rio+10" conference for a comprehensive review of Agenda 21 ten years after the Earth Summit.*1 Subsequently, consultations on the "Rio+10" conference continued at the UN General Assembly, and in December 2000 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the "Rio+10" conference, officially titled the World Summit on Sustainable Development, would be held at the summit level in South Africa in 2002.

During 2000, the international community's concrete actions mostly proceeded on an issue-by-issue basis through the establishment and promotion of multilateral treaties.

With regard to the issue of global warming, the Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 6) was held in November for the early entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.*2 At the Session, parties held deliberations in order to take decisions on the details of "Kyoto Mechanisms" (international emissions trading, the clean development mechanism, and joint implementation), procedures and mechanisms relating to compliance, as well as developing country issues, the resolution of which is essential to implement the Kyoto Protocol. While Japan made positive contributions toward advancing these discussions, in the end no agreement was reached at the Session. COP 6 was scheduled to resume in July 2001.

During 2000, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted in January as a result of negotiations toward establishing specific procedures for the safe transfer and handling of all living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on biological diversity. In other developments, at the Fifth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), an agreement was reached on a draft convention to prohibit or restrict the manufacture and use of 12 POPs, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and dioxins as well as to reduce their emissions. The draft convention is expected to be adopted in May 2001.

2. Japan's Cooperation

Amid this progress in international initiatives, Japan continues to view global environmental problems as one of the country's most important diplomatic issues, and is implementing the following types of cooperation.

First, Japan contributes to the formulation and implementation of conventions and other international commitments. As Chair of the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 3) in 1997, Japan continues to actively work toward the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol at an early stage, for example, by providing financial support for an expert meeting held in Asia to advance the negotiations. To help preserve the ozone layer, Japan is the second largest contributor, following the United States, to the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, which was established to assist developing countries in implementing ozone layer protection measures, and donates approximately US$33 million to this Fund each year. To address POPs, Japan actively provides information and technical expertise regarding agricultural chemicals and other chemical substances.

Second, Japan provides substantial environment-related assistance to developing countries. The simultaneous pursuit of environmental preservation and economic development is one of the key principles of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) Charter, and environmental cooperation is considered a top priority issue under Japan's ODA policies. Additionally, Japan continues to actively address environmental issues under the Medium-Term Policy on Official Development Assistance (formulated in August 1999) by providing cooperation in such diverse fields as air pollution, global warming, and the preservation of the natural environment in accordance with "Initiatives for Sustainable Development toward the 21st Century" (ISD).

Third, Japan emphasizes cooperation with environment-related international organizations. Japan plays a substantial role as a major donor to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and also subsidizes the expenses for projects implemented by the UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre. The Centre, founded at the invitation of the Japanese government, maintains offices in Osaka and Shiga Prefectures, and researches such topics as the management of freshwater bodies and their catchment areas as well as urban environmental problems, including air pollution, waste disposal, and noise pollution. Additionally, at the December 2000 Sixth Intergovernmental Meeting on the Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP), which aims at preserving the marine environments of the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, an agreement was reached, in principle, to locate NOWPAP regional coordination units, which will serve as executive offices, in Toyama, Japan and Pusan, Republic of Korea (ROK).

Along with these efforts, at the Second Intergovernmental Meeting of the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia (EANET) held in October, it was agreed that the full-scale operation of EANET would be initiated from January 2001. EANET had been functioning on a trial basis since April 1998 with the participation of major East Asian countries for the purpose of building up a network and adopting common methods for the monitoring of acid rain in East Asia to strengthen regional measures to combat acid rain.


  1. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or the "Earth Summit") was held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, and greatly advanced the international community's efforts to address global environmental issues. This Conference led to the adoption of Agenda 21 and other documents specifying the contents of comprehensive action plans.
  2. The Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted at COP 3 held in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, stipulated quantified reduction of greenhouse gas emissions targets for the developed countries and those that are undergoing the process of transition to a market economy.

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