Asian Urban Information Center of Kobe

UNFPA Seminar

AUICK held the UNFPA Seminar jointly with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Tokyo Office at Kobe International House from 1:30 pm to 4:00pm, Friday 23 June 2006. The seminar, subtitled "Population, Urban Development and Environment in Asia," was organized as a forum of AUICK's First 2006 Workshop open to the public, and attended by 184 people.


1. Opening
2. Presentations
3. Reports from Ten Cities
4. Discussion
5. Closing Remarks

1. Opening

Mr. FujimotoThe seminar was opened with a welcome address by Mr. Yoshikane Fujimoto, Executive Director of AUICK. He explained that the seminar was conducted with the objectives of raising awareness and understanding of urban issues relating to concentration of population and informing the general public of other countries' experiences, challenges they face, and the initiatives they are taking with these concerns. Then, he introduced Ms. Kiyoko Ikegami, Director of UNFPA Tokyo Office, as a facilitator of the Seminar.

2. Presentations

Ms. IkegamiMs. Ikegami introduced Dr. Gayl D. Ness, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan, and Dr. Shoichi Ando, Coordinator, Disaster Management Planning Hyogo Office, United nations Center for Reginal Development (UNCRD) as two resource persons to provide presentations on urbanization and environmental issues.

Dr. NessDr. Ness presented on the history and future of Demographic Transition in Asia and the world. Asia is now experiencing a major transformation of population growth and urbanization. They come from new technologies, such as medical, contraceptive technologies that reduce mortality and increase the welfare of women and children. This rapid population growth and urbanization with new technologies also produce a greater impact on the natural environment. He concluded by remarking that: "In all three cases - controlling mortality, fertility, and environmental damage - the new technologies offer hope, but they also challenge us. They require good governments that are concerned with peoples' welfare, they require governments to make good policies and to work hard to implement those policies effectively. If they do, there is much hope; if they do not, there is much misery ahead for all."

Dr. Ando, UNCRDDr. Shoichi Ando made a presentation on sustainable urban development with disaster safety. Taking the earthquake in Pakistan as an example, he stressed that a community-based disaster management, which UNCRD is promoting, will be the key for mitigating disasters. Although the situation varies by locality, like in Kobe and Pakistan, he pointed out that the fundamental policy will be common to all. He explained that reinforcing buildings to make them safer will lead to improved urban environment, since buildings are its main elements.

3. Reports from Ten Cities

The ten senior officials from ten Asian cities in charge of environmental protection made brief reports on the history, current status, countermeasures, and challenges of environmental problems in their respective cities and countries.

Mr. Kazi Mobassher Ahmed HashemiMr. Kazi Mobassher Ahmed Hashemi from Chittagong, Bangladesh, reported: Recently Chittagong faces four major urban environmental problems. (1) Slums: without adequate housing, new migrants have moved into unplanned slum areas without appropriate facilities for waste disposal. (2) Industrial waste management: factories often dispose of wastes in an untreated manner. (3) Hill cutting: the tree-covered hill around the city is cut and leveled for development, which leads to erosion etc. The government recently imposed a ban on hill leveling and tree cutting.

Mr. Pingyi SunMr. Pingyi Sun from Weihai, China, reported: Weihai has placed high priority on environmental protection, such as controlling water, air, and noise pollution and management of solid wastes. Thus despite the rapid development, the environmental standard of the city has remained high. The city currently meets these challenges for environmental protection. 1) To balance the environmental protection and the economic development. 2) To build the capacity for emergency actions in response to environmental conditions. 3) To improve public participation.

Mr. V. R. GurumurthyMr. V. R. Gurumurthy from Chennai, India, reported: Rapid urban growth has brought a great increase in solid waste (currently 3,700 metric tons a day), however, the city does not have the appropriate waste processing facility. The existing landfills are two decades old and the city has included the project of upgrading them to environmentally acceptable standards. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) is monitoring environment quality, such as those of air, water, and soil. The City Rivers are already polluted by unauthorized sewage discharge and the Federal Government has taken steps to rehabilitate them by evolving National River Conservation Project under World Bank funding.

Ms. Henny Dwi FeritaMs. Henny Dwi Ferita from Surabaya, Indonesia, reported: Surabaya also faces a number of problems caused by rapid urban growth and in-migration. The shortage of housing has given rise to slums and an extensive informal sector where people live without facilities for effective waste management. Although the river provides adequate water for the city, it is subject to uncontrolled disposal from both residential and industrial activities. The following projects are now underway: a) increasing public awareness of pollution; b) seeking public reporting of illegal dumping; and c) cleaning the river and planting trees along its banks.

Mr. Nazruddin bin IsmailMr. Nazruddin bin Ismail of Kuantan, Malaysia, reported: The rapid urbanization has resulted in environmental degradation of air, water and land. Traffic congestion causes air pollution, the lack of centralized sewerage system causes water pollution, and the improper development on hill slopes causes soil erosion and silting of the rivers. Also, the increasing solid waste from residents and industries has caused environmental deterioration. The countermeasures will include strict conditions for new development and greater enforcement of regulation for waste disposal. Currently, the federal departments, such as Department of Environment, Department of Sewerage Services, and Land Office, have a quarterly joint inspection of business establishment.

Dr. Ishfaq AhmadDr. Ishfaq Ahmad from Faisalabad, Pakistan, reported: The lack of disposal capacity and systems for waste management has resulted in uncollected waste in open spaces or illegal dumping. The existing sewage system is far below acceptable standards. Emissions including waste water, noise and odors from various industries in the city cause environmental degradation. The traffic congestion is also becoming serious problem. The city is committed to overcome these problems by: 1) Allocating 100 million rupees in the next fiscal year to improve the waste management 2) Launching a new project in coordination with JICA Japan to provide clean drinking water to more citizens 3) Shifting all the textile factories out of the municipal limits within one year.

Ms. Marivic Jadulco NierrasMs. Marivic Jadulco Nierras from Olongapo, Philippines, reported: Olongapo faces the following environmental problems: 1) Illegal clearing of the hilly land around the city has caused erosion, silting and flash flooding. 2) The city lacks a central sewage system and almost a fifth of the solid waste is not properly collected, which leads to water, land, and air pollution. 3) The present landfill site faces shortage of funds for upgrading. The city has been working on several measures to tackle those problems. Declogging works of the drainage systems as well as river distillation is being undertaken, and the provision of infrastructure support is also in progress. A study on the improvement of waste disposal system was already conducted in 2004 with the technical assistance from City of Windsor, Canada.

Mr. Thotsaphon Wang-AsaMr. Thotsaphon Wang-Asa from Khon Kaen, Thailand, reported: Kohn Kaen Municipality uses diesel fuel for many purposes, and consumes 1,200 liter per day. The increase of petrol price becomes a major problem of the city, which is considering biodiesel as an alternative energy source. A recent survey concluded that the municipality could produce as much as 839 liters per day, which is almost 75% of its current needs. The city is now conducting analysis to determine what investment is needed and what will be the breakeven point for it.

Mr. Dung Viet DangMr. Dung Viet Dang from Danang, Vietnam, reported: Under new policies to promote development, Danang has shared with the rest of the country a very rapid economic development. While this has provided resources and opportunities for the people, it has also produced a series of problems. Urban transportation and utilities infrastructures are underdeveloped. There is no public transportation system; about 30 percent of the people lack access to clean water and 12 percent lack adequate sewage facilities. Much of liquid waste which is dumped untreated from residences and industries into rivers, streams and lakes, has caused serious water pollution. The industrial development and the increase of automobiles have caused air pollution.

Mr. Kotaro OkamotoMr. Kotaro Okamoto from Kobe, Japan, reported: Kobe City plotted out the "Kobe City Basic Plan for General Waste Disposal (secondary plan)" in February 2001. This plan sees the policy of waste administration largely shift from conventional "proper disposal based on incineration and landfills" to "reduction and utilization based on the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle)." The city made changes in disposal categories of waste, and after this waste reduced, recycling has steadily increased. The City calls for a 25 % reduction in the amount of waste disposal by 2015, compared to 2003.

After the presentations from the 10 cities, Ms. Ikegami introduced three other speakers: Dr. Ali Mahmoud Mousa Madibo, Urban Planning Specialist, Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI), Ms. Shahana Chattaraj, Programme Specialist, Asia and the Pacific Division, UNFPA, and Mr. A. K. M. Rezaul Karim, City Planner and Head, Department of Architecture and City Planning, Chittagong City Corporation.

Dr. Ali Mahmoud Mousa MadiboDr. Ali Mahmoud Mousa Madibo told that it is a big challenge to talk about urban development and environment problem, because these issues involve a delicate and difficult balance. From a socio-economic point of view, education, health, etc. will be very important for local economic development. On the other hand, environmental issues recognize no boundaries. He stressed that we, as human beings, need to work together in cooperation to make the world better.

Ms. Shahana ChattarajMs. Shahana Chattaraj mentioned that the world has experienced unprecedented urban growth, especially in Asia. The crowded slums of Asian cities house millions people living without access to clean water, sanitation and health services. She pointed out that UNFPA sees urbanization in Asia as a challenge and an opportunity, as most Asian countries are only beginning to experience the remarkable shift of people and economic activities. She emphasized that they need to materialize this opportunity for better access to basic needs, while ensuring the environment be protected and preserved for ourselves and the future generation.

Mr. A. K. M. Rezaul KarimLastly, Mr. A. K. M. Rezaul Karim introduced Chittagong as a city resembling Kobe City, which is beautiful with a bay and mountains. He expressed enthusiasm as city planner and architect, for providing better urban planning using their technology and natural/human resources.

4. Discussion

The discussion open to the floor was facilitated by Ms. Ikegami.

Q: In recent years, disasters both natural and manmade have been increasingly affecting cities. What connection does this have with social poverty?

  • A1: It is said that big disasters are occurring as a result of climate change. However, severe damage is caused by unplanned urbanization, which has made those cities vulnerable to disasters. The role of the UN is to aid the exchange of knowledge and opinions. But it is local governments and communities to play a leading role for recovering from disasters. (Dr. S. Ando, UNCRD)
  • A2: Basic education is one of the most simple and important things in the eradication of poverty, so as the development of primary health care, agricultural development and so on. How affective governments are in development services for people counts quite dramatically. (Dr. Ness)

Q: What is the optimal growth rate of urbanization, in order to provide all the necessary urban facilities to the people, such as electricity, water supply, garbage management and education?

  • A: All cities are different, so there is no single optimal growth rate. You have to think about the socio-economic background. In future, you cannot stay in a similar status. It may vary because of any natural calamities and so on. Thinking about the overall situation, we need to go for planning. (Mr. Karim)

Q: People migrate because most rural areas in Asia are undeveloped. So shouldn't we concentrate on rural development to minimize urban migration?

  • A1: As for the issue of rural development, there is a need for rural development, but that will not stop migration or urbanization. Urbanization is inevitable and every country is going to become heavily urbanized. (Dr. Ness)
  • A2: Urban migration also has positive aspects not only negative ones. Especially for women urban migration has done as much for improving conditions in rural areas as many years of rural development programs over much shorter time. Also it is much easier for governments to plan services like education and women's empowerment in urban areas rather than rural areas. (Ms. Chattaraj)
  • A3: We consider urban migration as positive aspect to some extent, but it should be controlled. We try to develop 8 suburban cities around Chittagong City with all the urban facilities. (Mr. Karim)

Q: Children are learning about environmental protection, but many don't know just how serious the situation is. How can we educate them best?

  • A: By way of volunteer activities, children can raise their awareness about environmental issues. (Dr. Ando, UNCRD)

Q: In order for City of Kobe to reduce its garbage levels, how best can local government, business, and citizens work together?

  • A: Regarding waste management, division of the roles played by the national government, local government, and enterprises are regulated by law. For example, "Container Recycling Law" regulates that consumers separate containers when disposing, local governments collect them and enterprises recycle them. To promote recycling society, the government made manufacturers responsible for producing recyclable products. (Mr. Okamoto)

5. Closing Remarks

Dr. Hirofumi AndoDr. Hirofumi Ando, President of AUICK, summarized some of the main points raised in the presentations and discussions as follows: the population growth and the urbanization cannot be stopped but these cause environmental destruction. What we need to do is to think what we can do to protect the environment. The most important thing is good governance. It is necessary for us to pursue simultaneously environmental preservation and economic development. One of the solutions is the education of the public especially of the young. The active participation by the governments, communities, and NGOs are required to promote 3R (Reuse/ Reduce/ Recycle).

He also suggested that participants also learn from the bitter experiences to avoid the mistakes of the past. He concluded his remark introducing the "Think Globally, Act Locally", which was derived from United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), 1992, Rio de Janeiro.

Dr. Hirofumi Ando closed the seminar by thanking the organizers of the forum, UNFPA Tokyo Office and AUICK, as well as Ms. Ikegami for her excellent chairpersonship and all the panelists and participants for making this event a success.


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