Mayors and representatives from 21 major international cities gave reports and exchanged views on urban and environmental problems facing their cities at a Tokyo symposium on Wednesday.

The event was a part of Eco-Partnership Tokyo, an international conference jointly sponsored by the United Nations and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. During the session, city leaders discussed policies that have successfully managed growing populations and urban areas. “During the 10 years from 1986 to 1996, Beijing’s gross domestic product quadrupled, the area of urban construction grew by 28.3 percent, the number of vehicles tripled …. However, the quality of the urban environment has not deteriorated accordingly,” said Mao Zhang, vice mayor of Beijing.

However, some participants also touched on policy failures. Nagoya Mayor Takehisa Matsubara admitted that the city’s waste management policies had focused solely on measures to dispose of waste already generated and failed to address measures to curb household garbage. “Nagoya has lagged behind in terms of reducing garbage and recycling it,” Matsubara said.

Twenty-one city representatives, including participants from Moscow, Nairobi, Istanbul and Phnom Penh, made presentations and answered questions from the floor. Most leaders pointed out that the involvement of local communities and public education is the key to tackling urban environmental issues such as waste management and recycling.

But some representing developing countries worried that reduced consumption will lead to greater poverty, which would pose a serious dilemma. While many representatives from industrialized countries stressed the need to reduce consumption to solve urban problems, some representing developing countries said this would lead to greater poverty, which would pose a serious dilemma. “In my country and its neighboring states, reducing consumption would also means loss of employment,” said Enrique Olivera, vice governor of Buenos Aires.

Other leaders included Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer, who outlined the redevelopment zone projects undertaken by his city, saying they had significantly contributed to improvement of the city’s economy. Michel F. Sponar, adviser to Brussels’ environment minister, spoke about local laws that oblige businesses to share the burden in recycling their products. The four-day conference will end today with the issue of a concluding statement on the topics discussed. A study tour of Tokyo is planned for Friday.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.