6th Thematic Seminar: International Cooperation for Local Initiatives (2 July 2004, Kitakyushu, Japan)

Date: 2 July 2004

Venue: Kitakyushu International Conference Centre (Kitakyushu, Japan)

Participants: Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, Minamata, Osaka, Ube, Yokohama (Japan), Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Overseas Environmental Cooperation Centre, United Nations Centre for Regional Development, United Nations Environment Programme/International Environmental Technology Centre, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, World Bank

Seminar contents: Effective use of multi-lateral, bi-lateral, and city-to-city support schemes of international agencies for local governments.

In this region, decentralisation and devolution for local governments is high on the agenda of national governments, as well as international agencies. To achieve the objectives of decentralisation and devolution, it is important to simultaneously strengthen local capacity for urban environmental management. Traditionally, most international agencies are directly involved with the national governments and all activities to strengthen local capacity are controlled by the national governments. Local governments lack direct support from international agencies for their initiatives. Most local governments do not possess the proper information on the role and activities of international agencies. Therefore, it has become crucial for international agencies to redirect their support for local initiatives, as well as to provide relevant information directly to local governments. This may include information on what local governments can expect from international agencies and how local governments can obtain that support, i.e. what is the process?

The Kitakyushu Initiative document endorsed at MCED 2000 proposes “linkages, catalysation and facilitation of internal and external financial support to international cooperation initiatives of local authorities” as one of several measures to assist local governments in carrying out their environmental improvement objectives. Towards this end, this Seminar targeted local governments that look to donor agencies to support their outreach activities in urban environmental management, and was organised as a first step to bring international agencies and local governments together to facilitate understanding of the roles and “processes” of both parties for activities that target the improvement of the environment.

The seminar was conducted as a panel discussion, with presentations and discussions carried out on the available funding schemes and processes (guidelines for different types of support) to address the physical (solid waste, water and wastewater, air quality management, other) and capacity (urban planning, regulations, institutions, financial mechanisms, appropriate technology, social capital) challenges that local governments face in developing and conducting activities within their cities, as well as their international cooperation activities with local cities in Asia and the Pacific.

The outcomes for this seminar acted as a base for a seminar on linkages with international agencies in the development and implementation of solid waste programmes (both domestic and international) by cities throughout the Asia-Pacific Region during the Third Meeting of the Kitakyushu Initiative Network, which was held on 2-4 August 2004.

Participants from cities in Japan, which are active in the arena of international cooperation, with particular reference and usage of the schemes of international agencies, as well as representatives from international agencies and organisations that are active in the Asia-Pacific Region, attended the seminar. With a major objective to exchange information on the different schemes available to local governments, and to provide the international community with information on the activities of local governments in Japan, the seminar acted as a communication channel for both parties to discuss challenges and innovative approaches to multi-lateral, bi-lateral and city-to-city cooperation schemes.

A brief summary of the presentations by the international agencies, as well as the local governments follow.

Strengthening Linkages between Local Initiatives and International Cooperation

In an opening presentation by UNESCAP which focused on strengthening the linkages between local initiatives and international cooperation, it was noted that local governments lack direct support from international agencies for their initiatives and also lack information and awareness of the process. While international agencies tend to approach national governments for cooperation initiatives rather than local governments, it must be stressed that it is crucial for international agencies to include local initiatives in their support programmes, for better synergy and cooperation. The Kitakyushu Initiative has worked to bridge this gap through promoting intercity cooperation through the transfer of successful practices and technology. Concrete examples presented included solid waste management exchanges between Kitakyushu and Surabaya/Chongqing, overall urban environmental improvement between Kitakyushu and Cebu, and successful experiences in industrial relocation between Dalian and Ho Chi Minh. It was also stressed that linkages between ongoing international initiatives must be promoted as well, including with CITYNET, ICLEI, CAI-Asia, US-AEP, UNDP, UNEP, and UN-HABITAT. Examples of mechanisms for developing synergies included developing linkages towards financial support with various donors as well as international assistance programmes; exchange of policy, technical know-how, expertise, experiences, successful practices, transferable technology, human and institutional capacity, etc.; and establishment of a network of international initiatives at the local level to facilitate information sharing.

Potential and methods of linkages with the World Bank (World Bank)

This presentation included information on the overall structure and objective of the World Bank and tried to answer the question of how the Bank can link with local governments. The presentation stressed that local governments in Japan should focus on three key words in the World Bank system: Comprehensive Development Framework, Poverty Reduction Strategy, and Country Assistance System. The World Bank focuses on the following areas in the implementation of projects (examples are provided in parentheses but are not an exhaustive list): Agriculture and Rural Development (commodity risk management, forests, land policy), AIDS (Africa, South Asia, AIDS economics), Anti-Corruption (strategy, investigations, projects), Debt Relief: Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC progress, review), Education and Training (early childhood, girls, digital divide), Energy (oil and gas, markets and reform), Environment (biodiversity, climate change, drylands), Evaluation Monitoring (quality enhancement), Financial Sector (banking systems, capital markets, payment systems), and Gender (strategy papers, statistics). Other areas include globalisation; governance and public sector reform; health, nutrition and population; information and communication technologies; infrastructure; knowledge sharing; law and justice; macroeconomics and growth; mining; participation; policies; poverty; private sector development; social development; social protection and labour; sustainable development; trade; transport; urban development; water resources management; and water supply and sanitation.

The presentation also tried to stimulate the discussion with concrete ideas on how the World Bank can link with local governments; ideas included support to activities that are aimed to improve the living standards of persons living under the poverty level, projects that show linkages with governments and related organisations in the implementation of activities, projects that have Japan as a supporting country, direct linkages with developing countries. Indirect collaboration would be the sharing of experiences and knowledge, gathering and application of ideas (development marketplace), and global development learning networks. Key programmes highlighted in the presentation included: Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Fund, Japan Social Development Fund, Development Marketplace, Global Development Learning Network, InfoDev, Global Environmental Facility, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Linkages with local governments in supporting environmental improvement (Japan Bank for International Cooperation)

This presentation provided a general overview of the structure and objective of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and provided information on how JBIC is able to link with local governments. Suggestions were provided regarding the promotion of seminars, local government acting as an advisory function by outside experts, Special Assistance for Project Formation, and direct cooperation with local governments in the implementation of activities. The expectations of JBIC to local governments included the demonstration of comprehensive improvement of capacity of local governments in developing countries (understanding of regional societal needs, gather of opinions from a wide range of stakeholders, and sustainable financing systems), and active participation for Japanese ODA, including dissemination of Japanese experiences and knowledge, and the creation of a local-global society.

JICA Domestic Programmes: Promoting public participation & grassroots activities (Japan International Cooperation Agency)

This presentation provided an overview of JICA’s programmes on promoting public participation, in particular how residents can participate in international cooperation. This is conducted through international cooperation campaigns, lectures by residents on international cooperation, lectures-on-demand, ODA private sector monitoring, and youth programmes.

Linkages with local governments in environmental cooperation (United Nations Centre for Regional Development)

This presentation provided a general overview of the structure and objective of the United Nations Centre for Regional Development, as well as information about partnerships between UNCRD and local governments in the Chubu Region and Hyogo Prefecture. Such cooperative activities include secondment of local officials to UNCRD, financial support for projects contributing to sound development and international exchange within the Chubu region, such as the establishment of the Cooperation Association, and projects related to disaster management. Technical support is also provided for the conduct of training courses. Key activities of the environment group in UNCRD focus on the promotion of sustainable transport (Asia), solid waste management and minimisation (Asia, Middle East), and capacity building activities. Potential linkages with local governments were also outlined and included the introduction and dissemination of best practices by local governments in relation with ongoing UNCRD projects, collaboration with regard to UNCRD training exercises, support for the formulation/implementation of projects between cities, and facilitation of networking on specific issues among local governments.

Sustainable Cities Programme (United Nations Human Settlements Programme)

Providing an overview of the structure and activities of UNHABITAT and the Fukuoka Office, this presentation also outlined the Sustainable Cities Programme, a joint UNHABITAT and UNEP capacity building and institutional strengthening facility that has successful promoted, supported and strengthened urban environmental governance at all levels. The programme has participation of cities from around the world, with over 40 cities participating from the Asian region. The programme assists cities in improving their environmental information and expertise, strategies and decision-making, implementation of strategies, efficient use of resources, and institutionalising of environmental planning and management. The presentation also outlined areas of potential collaboration with cities in Japan to actively promote experiences through technical transfer and other areas.

Urban Environmental Management Programme and Projects (United Nations Environment Programme/International Environmental Technology Centre)

This presentation provided an overview of UNEP/IETC’s urban environmental management projects and programmes from 2003 to 2005. The overarching theme, cities as sustainable ecosystems, encompasses the core projects of UNEP/IETC: energy for cities, sustainable transportation, sustainable building and construction, environmental management tools, and innovative communities. Products offered for use by cities include: packaging detailed information on environmentally sound technologies related to is programme priorities into an online database (maESTro II), facilitating partnerships among key organisations in order to develop web portals to online information (EMERALD, SAFFIRE, KEYSTONE, JOULE), presenting “pre-searched” results from a range of resources available on the IETC website’s KnowledgeBase on different topics., developing a range of eCourses on topics related to waste, water and construction (Urban EMS, EnTA, AquaShed, SBC), collaborating and facilitating the development of EST-IS sites on waste, water and construction topics, and creating EST-IS communities, generating opportunities for exchange of information and knowledge through web forums (SBC Forum, RIWMS Forum), collating key IETC documents and resources and presenting them in thematic pages on its programme priorities, demonstrating clear linkages and justifications of IETC activities in waste, water and construction to multilateral environmental agreements, and creating decision-making and capacity building online tools in the spheres of waste, water and construction (EST-IS, EMS, EnTA, EnRA, IWRM, LCA, EMA).

Presentations by local governments (Summary)

A comprehensive summary of the presentations by the local governments of Japan is detailed below: The contributions of local governments to developing countries are visible through technological and exchange of know-how in various fields; the question remains about how it can better be applied. Regardless of the field of cooperation, local governmental representatives stressed the need to make use of the know-how of Japanese cities by establishing a framework for small-scale projects carried out by local governments (which act as consultants to support projects). More concretely, if such a support system was established in developing countries, international support organisations could evaluate the management and debt repayment situation, while also providing funds, financing individual projects of solid waste management companies of target countries, and promoting support through technological guidance. In this way, targeted support countries and supporting countries, as well as experts from support organizations could cooperate and local governments could support such projects as consultants.

Local governments indicated that the know-how of local governments in Japan may be better utilised and applied in the implementation of international cooperation schemes. This question brought up the consideration that this know-how may not been sufficiently adopted within the ODA framework, the foundation of international cooperation in Japan. In this case, the experiences of Kitakyushu City in making use of the ODA framework for promotion of cooperation should receive special mention and evaluation, including their experiences in applying the schemes of JBIC and JICA for their international cooperation activities.

Because the financial situations of local governments has worsened in recent years, and cities are minimising their internationalisation policies, only important aspects are being continued for projects which require substantial cooperation, including personnel costs in implementation, however, for cities in Asia which request cooperation but are unable to bear the costs of cooperation, local governments are finding it more difficult to do this on a volunteer basis. In this situation, a new system may be established in order for the know-how of local governments to be used and offset personnel costs. In order to make use of the know-how of local governments in Japan, it is necessary to develop or think of a new project framework (system) which can respond to the needs of small-scale projects being carried out by local governments, such as two-step loans related to environment. A pool of all resources, rather than different support schemes, could prove helpful in establishing a cooperation fund to support the international initiatives of local governments.


The seminar identified the issues facing Japanese local governments in the implementation of international cooperation activities, including accountability, impact and evaluation of activities, information dissemination, effective use of the knowledge of local government experts, and potential for the creation of new channels for cooperation to finance local initiatives. It also raised the awareness of donors and local governments on the types of international cooperation activities being conducted under the Kitakyushu Initiative and is the first step in development of a module for use by local governments in application for international support.

The seminar made the following conclusions:

  • It is important to establish twinning arrangements within the Kitakyushu Initiative for effective transfer of experiences and to facilitate procurement of resources from international agencies for local initiatives;
  • It is necessary to develop some umbrella projects to effectively utilize resources and funds through coordination and cooperation between international organizations.


Programme (English: PDF: 45.1KB / Japanese: 131KB)
Effective use of multi-lateral, bi-lateral and city-to-city support schemes of international agencies for local initiatives
13:00-13:10 Seminar Remarks (IGES)
13:10-13:20 Strengthening Linkages between Local Initiatives and International Cooperation (UNESCAP) (Powerpoint: 427KB)
13:20-14:40 Panel Discussion: Multi-lateral, bi-lateral and city-to-city support schemes of international agencies for local initiatives 
  • Support schemes available (financial, technical, information, other) to address physical challenges (solid waste, water and wastewater, air quality, other) faced by local governments
  • Process to seek for international support to address physical challenges
13:20-15:40 Presentations by international agencies
13:20-13:30 Introduction to panel
13:30-13:50 World Bank (PDF 419KB)
13:50-14:10 Japan Bank for International Cooperation (PDF: 342KB)
14:10-14:30 Japan International Cooperation Agency, Kyushu International Centre (Presentation 1: PDF 1.7MB) / (Presentation 2: 1.5MB)
14:30-14:50 United Nations Centre for Regional Development (PDF: 475KB)
14:50-15:00 Break
15:00-16:20 15:00-15:20 United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Fukuoka Office (FILE is too large for download. Please contact Secretariat.)
15:20-15:40 UNEP/International Environmental Technology Centre (PDF: 915KB)
15:40-16:20 Interventions by local governments
16:20-17:00 Open floor, Conclusions

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Environment Section
Environment and Sustainable Development Division
United Nations Building, Rajdamnern Avenue
Bangkok 10200 Thailand
Email: escap-esdd-evs@un.org

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Kitakyushu Initiative Network Secretariat
3-9-30 Asano, Kokurakita-ku
Kitakyushu City 802-0001 Japan
Email: kitakyushu-initiative@iges.or.jp