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A diverse mix of environmental problems, such as traffic congestion, increasing amounts of waste, and air and water pollution, have surfaced around the world in line with rapidly growing populations and urban development. Climate change has also resulted in more frequent incidences of localised torrential rains, floods, droughts and landslides in various parts of the world and has had a significant impact on the activities of cities, which form the base of socio-economic activities. Yet, as cities are estimated to account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, it has become increasingly vital to promote city planning in urban development both now and in the future from the perspective of climate change as well.

The Paris Agreement, which entered into force in 2016 as the world’s legal framework for climate change, moved into the implementation phase in 2020. As implementation is emphasised, expectations for actions by non-state actors such as cities and the private sector, have risen and movements to support these actions being strengthened at the international level.

The Ministry of the Environment, Japan has implemented the “City-to-City Collaboration for Low-carbon Society” programme (hereinafter “city-to-city collaboration programme”) since fiscal 2013, even before such international trends had been observed. This programme is a collaborative effort between local governments in Japan and partner cities in developing countries packaging studies to identify and formulate potential projects that will contribute to zero-/low-carbon development in partner cities in cooperation with private companies and collaborative projects, such as support for institutional building and the development of human resources.

With a diverse range of infrastructure concentrated in cities, the introduction and development of superior zero-/low-carbon technologies, products and systems in these facilities using the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), an initiative being pushed forward by the Japanese government, will not only be instrumental for zero-/low-carbon development in cities, but are also expected to generate multiple co-benefits, such as improving the environment and supplying energy to cities, as well as promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Starting from April 2020, this programme will be further promoted to contribute to the rapid creation of zero-carbon societies, taking into account the status of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

This guidebook has been developed for local governments and private companies around the world as a way to encourage their understanding of the city-to-city collaboration programme.