Local Government Strategic Planning to Improve the Urban Environment: Linking Local Actions to the Global Agenda
Tokyo, Japan : To enhance local authorities' capacity to improve urban environment and to provide knowledge on financial modalities for greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Many local governments in the Asia-Pacific region have started taking their own initiatives to improve urban environment and local economic development opportunities due to the growing pace of decentralization. While local governments are increasingly taking greater role, financing has remained a key concern as decentralization has not been able to be supplemented with adequate financial resources. Therefore, those local governments are looking for opportunities to introduce public-private partnerships, to raise private financing for cleaner infrastructure, and to create alternative financing modalities in order to achieve these goals. This direction, however, needs careful overall strategic planning, a clearer understanding of the different roles of the public sector and private sector, the diligent management of scarce financial resources (especially on the public sector), the appropriate assignment of risks to the public and private sectors, and the smart adaptation of appropriate risk mitigation measures.
At the same time, a municipal-level awareness of the need to address global problems is now being shared and fostered among local government leaders in the Asia Pacific region. This is especially the case on climate change and global warming issues as demonstrated in recent declarations by cities who are part of the United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) network, and other declarations at conferences (such as the World Urban Forum 3 in Vancouver, 2006). One key question remains: what meaningful actions can cities or regions take to reduce damaging carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions given their existing priorities? And how can these same cities benefit financially from such environmental initiatives?
However, cities can take several steps and initiatives to achieve the global goal to reduce the emission and these initiatives can have multiplier local effects in their own jurisdictions to make cities more efficiently managed and livable. Some examples would be
Reducing single occupancy vehicle travel;
Introducing and promote usage of public transport systems;
Exploring renewable fuels for vehicles and stationary energy generation;
Reducing energy consumption, especially electricity consumption;
Promoting energy efficient electricity models and equipment;
GHG recapture at waste disposal sites;
Promoting public awareness and public debate about climate change;
Creating energy efficiency through changing codes on new building construction;
Creating energy efficiency through refurbishment of existing buildings;
Producing clean/renewable energy on municipal buildings;
Introducing transport and mobility alternatives; and
Implementing new legal initiatives (municipal regulations, directives, etc) which incentivize private actions by building owners and others.
Some cities are actually adopting policies and implementing measures to achieve quantifiable reductions in local greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and enhance urban livability and sustainability. Many hundreds of local governments in the world are actively integrating climate change mitigation into their decision-making processes. These same local governments have come to understand how municipal decisions related to climate change (whether focused on energy use) can translate into financial gains for the city budget. The engines driving the market for carbon credits include the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol with transactions by energy-intensive companies that are initiating projects in developing and emerging countries. The Asian market is one of the leading CDM markets -- with the majority of CDM projects being developed today within this region.
Such actions towards mitigating greenhouses are going on in mostly developed countries due to the increasing awareness to climate change impacts, emerging local political agendas and the pressures being trickled down from international regime and the national government’s commitments. However, in developing countries, awareness of climate change is rising and increasingly local governments are looking for harmonizing local action to benefit global cause and benefited from the financial and technology transfer opportunities from international regimes.
There are several ways whereby cities benefit from specific actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
Financial income from the trading and sale of the carbon credits generated by the city actions.
Financial savings in reduced utility and fuel costs to the local government, households, and businesses.
Improved local air quality, contributing to the general health and well being of the community.
Enhanced energy efficiency, contributing to greater national and local energy security
Economic development and new local jobs as investments in locally produced energy products and services keep money circulating in the local economy.
Towards aiding to enhance the knowledge base of local government in Asia, this seminar will reveal to participants a menu of simple, standardized ways of acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and of monitoring, measuring, and reporting performance. It essentially provides a knowledge-base on the integrated-strategies that have both local and global environmental benefit, their potential other local benefits, tools that are available to assess such benefits, and international context of financial, networking and intercity cooperation opportunities.