Toward a new framework
for sustainable consumption patterns and urban settlements in
Asia and the Pacific region
By Professor Ryokichi Hirono
Seikei University, Tokyo,
During the three decades 1960s-80s, nearly all developing countries in Asia and the Pacific region gave top priority to ensuring economic growth either through improved and diversified primary production or import-substituting or export-led industrialisation, with little regard to its impact on urban settlements and environment.
Beginning in the early 1990s, however, there has been an increasing concern in many developing countries in sustaining economic growth while simultaneously minimising its adverse impact on environment particularly in urban settlements. Furthermore, ensuring the benefits of economic growth and technological progress distributed to all segments of the population and across generations has become a major task for many governments in the region. The rising concern stems partly from the accelerated deterioration as observed in urban environments including noise, traffic congestion, air and water pollution during the 1980s and partly from the mounting pressures of the international community including the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for environmentally sustainable development leading up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 and the Habitat II Conference held in Istanbul in 1996.
As we are entering into the 21st
century, a search has now been initiated by Habitat and other
international organisations for a new framework for ensuring economic
growth and industrialisation contributing to sustainable consumption
patterns and urban settlements in both industrial and developing
countries, giving a high priority to the cost-effective discovery
of energy- and natural resources-saving technologies and renewable
energy sources, pollution abatement and environmentally sustainable
Major Issues in the Existing
1) There has been an alarming lack of comprehensive and coherent framework for improving the economic, social and ecological well being of both the productive and nonproductive segments of the population in urban settlements. Economic well being of the people is supposedly taken care of by economic affairs departments, while social well being by social bureaux and ecological well being by environment division, all not only independently of each other but also on a piecemeal basis. In a number of cities the environment division or department is still the weakest of all municipal administration both in terms of budget and manpower allocation.
2) In most developing countries no pricing policies are in effect that internalise social and environmental cost of the use of energy, forest based and mineral products, water and other natural resources as well as of pollution emission including CO2, SOx and NOx, waste generation and urban congestion.
3) Urban development and environmental policies in most developing countries have been characterised by an inward-looking and passive approach toward the provision of social and environmental safety net for those segments of the population that require such assistance and protection.
4) There has been a decided orientation to input rather than measured output in urban investment and consumption policies, such as urban economic infrastructures and municipal services such as education, health and environment.
5) Misguided and wasteful use of public resources has been rather conspicuous at the macro level, with heaps of historical and outdated regulations at the national and local levels making their use inevitably inflexible and, above all, compartmentalising the urban development and environmental services into narrowly defined stereotyped markets and bureaucratically moulded target groups.
6) Lack of decentralisation, unlike in private investment and consumption, in urban development and environmental management, has resulted not only in delays in decision-making processes between national and local governments and agencies, but more importantly in the lack of innovative spirit and competence of the organisations and people at the local levels.
7) Lack of organisational and individual incentives at the micro and project levels has not only increased the risk of not meeting the objectives of urban development and environmental programmes both quality-wise and time-wise, but also reduced the cost-effectiveness of all urban activities.
8) There has been an inadequate mobilisation of private sector enterprises, cooperatives and nonprofit organisations such as NGOs and community-based organisations (CBOs), not only increasing the fiscal burden on the national and local governments but more importantly reducing the benefits and cost-effectiveness of urban development and environmental programmes.
9) Ineffective use of foreign
aid in urban development and environmental programmes has often
resulted from the lack of effective coordination among national
government ministries, departments and agencies leading to duplications,
fragmentation and inconsistencies.
Toward a New Framework
for Sustainable Consumption Patterns and Urban Settlements: Policy
1) The fundamental rationale and objectives of a New Framework for Sustainable Consumption Patterns and Urban Settlements lie in:
a) Prevention, while sustaining economic growth and industrialisation, of further advance in unsustainable consumption patterns and urban human settlements, e.g., steady increases in per capita energy, paper, timber, mineral and fresh water consumption, household and industrial waste generation, poverty incidence, a visible decline and wider variation in the quality of primary and secondary school education as observed in the higher incidence of student dropouts and violence on and off the campus, child and maternal malnutrition, an increasing number of street children and homeless population, rising urban congestion, noise, air water and soil pollution and social crimes;
b) Reversal of the currently increasing budget transfer to urban consumption expenditures such as health and disability insurance and old-age pension programmes for municipal employees and their families which should be entirely self-financed and hold down the currently increasing fiscal burden for anti-poverty and environmental programmes within a reasonable level as percent of municipal expenditures and GDP;
c) Integration of all dimensions of urban development and environment programmes and improvement of their cost-effectiveness and benefits to the targeted population;
d) Mobilisation of the adversely affected by economic restructuring and technological changes, through training and retraining, into the mainstream of productive and creative activities and provide minimum, if not adequate, income to sustain their livelihood;
e) Maintenance and improvement of the quality of human resources effectively to meet the constantly upgrading and diversifying technical, professional and managerial requirements of industry and society now and in the future; and
f) Improvement of the people's readiness and capacity for changing to sustainable consumption patterns, i.e., to live a long, healthy and creative life consistent with environmental protection and social participation and strengthen the municipal readiness and capacity for creating environments conducive to, and raising the quality of, sustainable urban settlements founded in the main on sustainable consumption patterns.
2) The major components of a new framework for sustainable consumption patterns and urban settlements will consist of environmentally friendly food, housing and clothing consumption, transport, communications, healthcare, human resources development (education and training), anti-poverty programmes and environmental protection.
3) The new framework for sustainable consumption patterns and
urban settlements envisaged includes among others:
a) Limitation of the central government to formulating and monitoring a new framework and its programmes and to financing only the basic elements (primary healthcare, basic education, anti-poverty and environmental protection) of the new framework;
b) Installation of a multiple-track (public, private, cooperative, NGO and community sectors) system, wherever possible, to involve all sectors of society in implementing and cost-sharing a new framework and its programmes including the basic elements;
c) Strict adherence to self-financing principle and no municipal budget transfer in social insurance programmes, including health and pension;
d) Introduction of a variety of cost recovery mechanisms in education, particularly tertiary education;
e) Provision of tax and other incentives to private sector enterprises, cooperatives, NGOs and CBOs to enhance the quality of the sustainable consumption patterns and urban settlements, particularly for healthcare, human resources development and environmental protection; and
f) Further decentralisation to
local governments and neighbourhood councils in implementing and
monitoring not only antipoverty programmes but all the other components
of sustainable consumption patterns and urban settlements programmes.
Primary Healthcare for
All in Sustainable Urban Settlements
1) The rationale and objectives of the primary healthcare for all lie in:
a) Ensuring the health of the entire population in urban settlements, as it constitutes, together with education, the basic foundation of the sustainable consumption patterns and urban settlements and as it is the basic prerequisite for human resources development and economic growth that is most critical today in rapidly expanding and diversified urban settlements; and
b) Ensuring the primary healthcare of the entire urban population, particularly women, children and the elderly, given the increasing child and maternal malnutrition, the rising under-five child mortality rates and the increasing vulnerability of the aged to illness and accidents.
2) The major components of primary healthcare in sustainable urban settlements will consist of:
a) Provision of basic health services;
b) Provision of preventive healthcare;
c) Prevention of infectious/communicative diseases, including AIDS; and
d) Capacity building in healthcare policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
Primary healthcare in sustainable urban settlements could be approached as follows:
a) Basic health services, preventive healthcare and the prevention of infectious/communicative diseases must be ensured by the national and local governments and could be provided by a multiple track system including municipalities;
b) The municipal government should be responsible for the formulation and monitoring of the municipal health policies and system including primary healthcare, health research and development & D) activities and the enactment of such laws and regulations that ensure the municipal, policies and system that preferably should be consistent with national policies;
c) The municipal government could also implement the national primary healthcare policy measures and install their own policy measures as called for by their respective conditions and requirements;
d) The municipal government, together with central and local governments, should ensure that those employed by private sector enterprises, cooperatives, NGOs and CBOs and their families in their urban settlements receive the best primary healthcare available in the country at a reasonable cost;
e) The municipal government, with the support of central and local governments, should ensure that those retired, unemployed, below the poverty line, and the vulnerable such as orphans, mentally and/or physically disadvantaged and the elderly in their urban settlements have an equal access to the best primary healthcare available to those active in economic and social sectors;
f) The municipal government must also ensure that those requiring non-primary healthcare have access to the best health services available at a reasonable cost; and
g) The municipal government. with
the support of central and local governments, should accelerate
the pace of privatisation in the provision of health services
as part of the health sector reform and provide fiscal and financial
incentives declining overtime under the health insurance scheme
to Privatised health clinics and hospitals to ensure the provision
of high-quality health services.
Basic Education for All
in Sustainable Urban Settlements
1) The rationale and objectives of the basic education for all lie in:
a) Ensuring the functional literacy of the entire population in urban settlements and enhance the people's capacity to meet the constantly upgrading and diversifying technical, professional and managerial requirements of industry and society so that both private and public organisations in municipalities and in particular enterprise sectors become more competitive on the world market;
b) Improvement of the people's readiness and capacity for changing to sustainable consumption patterns and urban settlements, particular to live a long, healthy, creative and individually satisfying life;
c) Giving students and their parents a choice on schools to be enrolled and subjects studied. thus introducing effective competition among schools and teachers;
d) Increasing the currently still low secondary school enrollment ratios and arrest, if not reduce, the currently rising dropout ratio at secondary education level; and
e) Improvement of the cost-effectiveness of basic, vocational and tertiary education.
2) The major components of basic education in sustainable urban settlements will consist of
a) Provision of high-quality primary and secondary education;
b) Provision of practical vocational and semi-professional training in secondary education; and c) Provision of basic education for the illiterate adults
3) Improvement in basic education in sustainable urban settlements could be approached as follows:
a) Reorganisation and extension of primary and secondary education from the current 4-4-2 or 6-2-2 system to a new 6-3-3 system will be urgently required to meet the increasingly advancing functionary literacy essential in today's global competition;
b) English language and computer instruction should be made compulsory and Chinese, Japanese or Hindi language instruction be encouraged as a second foreign language, wherever felt desirable, in primary and secondary schools to facilitate the integration of the people and economy into the rest of the competitive world;
c) The quality of primary and lower secondary school education in all subjects must be vastly improved by installing higher teacher-student ratios, high-quality textbooks, improved teaching methods including more debate-oriented classroom instruction and more up-to date educational facilities including laboratories. Similarly, the quality of upper secondary school education can be upgraded, in addition to those mentioned above, by the curricula better suited to the occupational requirements today and in the future and by internship programme in public and private organisations;
d) Technical and scientific disciplines should be given a greater emphasis than currently followed in primary and secondary schools;
e) School administration must be geared to improving more effectively the quality of school education and its cost-effectiveness, and in so doing the reinforcement of in-service teaching and administrative staff training and retraining programmes is vital;
f) Distant education and mobile classroom instruction and library facilities, wherever applicable, should be encouraged in those communities with the vast geographical space and scattered inhabitants;
g) The multiple track system should be strengthened not only with a view to reducing the government expenditures on education but also to improving the quality of education through competition among privatised educational institutions, while ensuring the quality of education at all levels by installing the internationally competitive accreditation system, teacher qualification standards and performance rating publication; and
h) The municipal government, on
behalf of the central urban settlements receive the best primary
healthcare available in the country at a reasonable cost; prospective
students so that they and/or their parents use them in making
their own choices for primary and secondary schools, public or
private, for subjects, academic or vocational, and for teachers
in which they wish to be enrolled.
for All in Sustainable Urban Settlements
The rationale and objectives of the environmental protection for all lie in:
a)Ensuring that all the population, young and old, men and women, will continue to enjoy over generations the blessings of nature and social environments conducive to a long, healthy and creative life;
b) Ensuring that all the environmental damages afflicted by industry, entities and households so far upon the people in urban settlements be ameliorated and cleared within a specified period of time; and
c) Ensuring that all the environmental damages that may affect the people in urban settlements adversely in the future be kept under control and, if possible, prevented from taking place and, if inflicted, eliminated by the respective years specified under relevant international conventions, protocols and agreements.
The major components of environmental protection in sustainable urban settlements will consist
a) Basic legislation on environment protection;
b) Strict observance of environmental laws and regulations;
c) Installation of a department or agency in charge of environmental protection;
d) Environmental awareness campaign and environmental education;
f) Capacity building in environmental Policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation; and
g) Installation and promotion of inter-city cooperation in environmental protection.
3) Environmental protection in sustainable urban settlements can be approached as follows:
a) In the light of the fact that sustained economic growth and investment expansion in urban settlements to meet domestic and/or overseas demand for goods and services continue to spill over into environmental damages, an utmost care must be taken by municipal governments to enable economic growth and industrialisation be consistent with environmental protection and preservation through legislative, policy and administrative measures;
b) In the light of the fact that the elimination and reduction of environmental damages are immensely costly, all the partner's of development in urban settlements must take preventive measures so that environment remain undisturbed, which can be encouraged by central and local governments through fiscal and other incentives;
c) To the extent that global environmental damages such as climate change, deforestation and desertification are becoming increasingly serious, each and every municipality must continue to take aggressive measures to protect the global environment in accordance with relevant international agreements;
d) Since the informal sector including the self-employed will continue to expand at a fast tempo in urban settlements in most developing countries and since the informal sector is worst in keeping environmental destruction under control, every effort must be made by municipal government with the support of central and local governments to provide them through training programmes not only with enhanced awareness of the danger of environmental degradation but also with concrete measures for minimising environmental damages associated with their production and marketing and through micro- or small-credit schemes to invest in environmentally friendly technologies and production processes at their ventures;
e) While productivity growth has been and will continue to be a key to increasing competitiveness in increasingly open and global markets and sustaining economic growth, and as industry will pursue every path to productivity growth, every effort must be made by municipal governments with a strong support of central and local governments that public and private enterprises and cooperatives do not enhance their productivity at the expense of environment;
f) In the light of the fact that many of those unemployed and underemployed as well as the poor are less concerned with environmental protection, it is vital that not only they be given training and education regarding environmental protection but also every effort be made by the municipal government in cooperation with central and local governments to eradicate poverty, unemployment and underemployment;
g) Municipal governments, together with central and local governments, could also promote environmental protection through enhanced research and development activities as well as public works programmes of their own where they are encouraged to build those economic and social infrastructures that are not only productive but also environmentally friendly;
h) As with central and local governments, municipal governments are encouraged to have municipal legislation governing Environmental protection, establish an environment department or agency to enforce the laws and regulations, introduce local agenda 21 in accordance with the Global Agenda 21 as agreed at the United Nations Environment and Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992 and monitor environmental activities;
i) Municipal governments must see to it that all partners of development including individual households, public and private sector organisations, all levels of governments, NGOs and CBOs strictly observe the environmental laws, regulations, guidelines and local agenda 2 1, with severe civil and criminal penalties to those who should fail to do so;
j) In addition to legislation and regulatory measures, municipal governments are encouraged to use administrative guidance and economic instruments such as pricing policies, environmental taxes/surcharges, deposit schemes and transferable emission rights to prevent environmental destruction and minimise the adverse impact of industry, entities and households on environment, and in so doing the full cooperation of central and local governments is deemed essential;
k) All partners of development in urban settlements including private and public sector enterprises, cooperatives and nonprofit organisations such as NGOs and CBOs could be mobilised to join forces together with national and other local bodies for environmental protection and engage in environmental campaign and education;
l) Internalisation of environmental cost into prices of goods and services, on the basis of polluter-pay-principle; and
m) Municipalities could further enhance through city-to-city arrangements their financial and technical assistance to developing countries on the basis of their own enlightened self-interest perspective in dealing with both urban and global environmental issues.