NGOs report efforts to motivate G8 in Hokkaido

by Keiji Hirano

Kyodo News

Nongovernmental organizations have issued a report on their efforts to press their cases to the leaders of the Group of Eight nations when they held their summit last July at Hokkaido’s Lake Toya resort.

The report, subtitled “We can change the world,” shows how the Hokkaido People’s Forum on G8 was formed and what it appealed for before and during the G8 summit.

It also carries remarks by four panelists at an NGO symposium on environmental and regional independence.

“The purposes of our activities were to make the G8 summit more open to the public, to discuss regional issues in Hokkaido from global points of view and to reflect our voices to the debates at the summit,” Kiyokazu Koshida, secretary general of the forum, noted in the report.

After its formal launch in September 2007, the forum held seminars. In one discussion, participants talked about how the debt problems of developing countries bear similarities to the fiscal problems of the bankrupt Hokkaido city of Yubari. Once a booming coal mining area, the town failed in 2007 under a mountainous budget deficit, Koshida said.

It also considered how the rights of indigenous peoples should be protected on the occasion of the G8 summit in the giant prefecture, which was once called “Ainu Mosir,” or “a quiet ground where people live,” by the Ainu.

According to the report, a woman from an indigenous minority in the Philippines told a July 7 symposium in Sapporo that while her people have lived in forest areas and used natural resources in responsible and sustainable ways, such living environments have been rapidly disappearing due mainly to climate change.

The woman said that in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate climatic fluctuations, advanced nations must refrain from excessive consumption and overuse of petroleum.

Based on the research and debates, the group compiled policy recommendations covering four issues — climate change, biodiversity protection, peace and human rights, and poverty and development — and submitted them to the G8 leaders.

The forum set medium- and long-term numerical targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and urged the major powers to promote dialogue with indigenous peoples in an effort to promote their dignity.

“We could unite various NGOs together and compile the policy recommendations,” Taisuke Miyauchi, one of the three corepresentatives of the forum, said in the report.

Miyauchi, also a professor of environmental sociology at Hokkaido University, added, “We still have to examine if our appeals widely reached the public and if we could fully correlate global issues with those in Hokkaido.”

The 51-page report is free. Information can be obtained by telephoning Hokkaido Green Fund in Sapporo at (011) 280-1870.