Asian cities must lead push to improve environment, cut resource use, says ADB Panel
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) --
Cities in Asia should lead the way in making the reduction, reuse and recycling of resources a way of life, while providing economic models for conservation which national governments could replicate, a seminar audience heard today.
The seminar “Cities for the 21st Century and the New Mantra of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” was held at ADB’s 43rd Annual Meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It examined the severe strains fast growing Asian cities are putting on resources and discussed the role they should play in reducing excess resource consumption, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Asian urban centers are facing immense strains on limited resources, which is creating major economic, environmental, and health challenges. About 120,000 people a day around the region are moving into cities, which generate about 75% of Asia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
The seminar noted that rather than wait for central government ‘top down’ action, cities themselves should take steps to improve resource use and preserve the environment. As centers for business, and education they are best placed to have a direct and immediate impact on lives, and to promote improvements in production and consumption patterns.
“Besides being more nimble and willing to take risks than larger government bodies, cities have easy access to citizens, local businesses, schools and institutions. The effects of new policies can be more immediate and meaningful through direct involvement of stakeholders,” said Klaus Gerhaeusser, ADB’s Director General of East Asia Department.
The seminar heard that cities can take many steps to manage resources more efficiently. Through zoning, building codes and permits, urban centers can encourage building designs which conserve energy. By making greater use of market mechanisms, such as the European Union Emission Trading System, they can help reduce pollution, and by creating knowledge hubs, peer networks and demonstration programs, they can exchange experiences and practical know-how.
The PRC has started to mainstream this approach – known as a circular economy – by putting in place a new law which requires industrial firms to adopt cleaner production technologies, to find ways to conserve resources, and to use recycled wastewater. Although at an early stage, the policy has already borne fruit, with the reuse of treated wastewater resulting in environmental and economic benefits in most cities and economic zones in the country.
“It will be effective when you solve the problem of ordinary people in their everyday life. The circular economy must be designed to make things more convenient and more useful. If that’s the case then it’s going to succeed,” said Professor Harrison Fraker, College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley.
The seminar discussed the appropriate regulatory environment to encourage more efficient resource use, the use of market-based instruments to stimulate changes in production and consumption, and the steps needed to promote greater community and private sector participation in conservation.