The global community is expecting local governments to play an increasingly important role in promoting sustainable development. However, the ability of local governments to do so, especially in some developed countries, may be weakening due to a possible decline in citizen interest and support as well as worsening fiscal and other constraints.
Particularly in Japan, some local governments that have capacity and international orientation have been actively engaged in international environmental cooperation with developing countries in the past, but now they are under increasingly severe fiscal constraints, and concerned about whether citizens will support further collaboration.
This policy brief argues that there are several ways for Japanese local governments with sufficient capacity to continue or begin such international cooperation, in areas such as environmental business promotion, environmental education, and reduction of GHG emissions using international carbon crediting. This applies particularly to prefectures and larger cities.
Capable Japanese local governments may also consider encouraging citizens’ voluntary actions such as individual carbon offsets and participation in eco-point programmes to generate modest additional funding for international environmental collaboration.
The results of a survey of citizens of two large Japanese cities which have a history of involvement in international environmental cooperation suggest that citizens in these kinds of cities may be likely to support the measures proposed here.
Local governments should maintain appropriate citizen consultation mechanisms, similar to existing ones in the field of waste management and recycling, to maintain citizen support as well as obtain ideas for improving implementation or new opportunities for international environmental collaboration.
Japanese version: http://pub.iges.or.jp/modules/envirolib/view.php?docid=3820