2006 Top News on the Environment in Asia
Featuring top news reports from eighteen countries in the Asia-Pacific region

20 December 2006 - Hayama, Japan
The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Hayama, Japan, is pleased to announce the provisional 2006 Top News on the Environment in Asia.

"Top News" is a compilation of important environmental news topics selected by environmental experts from the Asia-Pacific region as well as by international organisations and research institutes. With Fiji contributing reports for the first time, this 2006 provisional edition brings together more news items than ever before, with three organisations and eighteen countries submitting 96 articles. *1

While these news stories do not necessarily reflect the official views of the countries or organisations concerned, they provide a comprehensive overview of environmental issues that these countries have faced over the past year.

This year is the fiftieth year after Minamata disease, a disease caused by ocean pollution with mercury poisoning drained from factories marking the starting point for environmental pollution issues in Japan, was officially recognised. In many Asian countries undergoing economic development, there have been numerous reports on the worsening situation of the pollution of rivers and seas that is accompanying the growth of industry. In China, after an incident on the Songhua River in November 2005 where compounds of cadmium and arsenic were released, there were over 130 occurrences of water-related pollution. In Pakistan nationally, thousands of people have been harmed by the polluted water pumped out by industry. In the Philippines oil flowed out of a sunken oil tanker causing pollution to spread across the sea and making it the worst such accident in the nation's history. What’s more, Fiji reported that chemical spills from timber processing plants caused the pollution of surrounding rivers and seas.

Amid brisk economic activity, population increase and rapidly advancing urbanisation, waste management in Asia's cities has become an important issue and there are also many reports on this topic. In Bangladesh, the government statistics revealed that the industrial sector spent only 0.1 percent of its production costs on waste management, which may lead to the situation of careless waste management. In Malaysia, the residents' protest movements against landfill sites resulted in an urgent review that included the closing down of 16 open landfills. What's more, in the Philippines the Japanese-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) signed in September came under attack from environmental NGOs and citizens amid claims that it would allow the entry of toxic and hazardous waste from Japan.

On the other hand, 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, And Recycle) activities for an environmentally sound resource cycle have been furthered in the region. In Japan, 'Mottainai' - a Japanese word which denotes it being a shame to waste something without having made use of its potential in full - has spread as the catchphrase for the 3Rs and related activities. At the Second Expert Meeting on Solid Waste Management in Asia and the Pacific Islands held in Tokyo from 30 October to 1 November, participants from various Asian countries shared thoughts on the importance of promoting the 3Rs in the region.

The concerns that are currently faced by Asian countries featured in "Top News" are wide-ranging and include global warming, air quality, the water environment, waste disposal, hazardous chemicals, nature conservation, natural disasters, and so on. Governments and related organisations must take timely and appropriate measures to address these urgent issues.

The final version of "Top News" will be published March 2007 with more news from India, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Tonga.

Ms. Megumi Kido
PR Officer, IGES
2108-11 Kamiyamaguchi, Hayama, Kanagawa, 240-0115 Japan
Tel: +81 46-855-3734
Fax: +81 46-855-3709

*1 3 organisations: IGES, United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP/ROAP), Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC)
18 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Top News on the Environment in Asia : IGES has been announcing the top news on the environment in the Asia-Pacific region every year since 1998 in order to collect and organise information about environmental issues and policy trends in this region, and to report on how this region addresses environmental problems and how it works to create a sustainable society. These news items have been chosen by our supporting organisations or researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views of the countries and organisations concerned. Yet the news vividly communicates the recent trends and problems pertaining to the environment in this region.

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