Strengthening Japan's Environmental Cooperation Strategy as a Leader to Promote Green Markets in East Asia

Strengthening Japan's Environmental Cooperation Strategy as a Leader to Promote Green Markets in East Asia

The main purpose of this study is to provide strategic recommendations for the Government of Japan to increase the effectiveness of their international environmental cooperation efforts specifically aimed at improving the quantity and quality of green markets across East Asia. The information provided in this study is based on a series of primary interviews with relevant government officers, practitioners, industry specialists and academics; analysis of government policy documents and reports; and from secondary literature review.

This report begins with an analysis of Japan’s history of developing tools/policies for promoting green markets domestically and the dissemination of the country’s good practice as part of its international environmental cooperation. Reviewing the successful history of Japan’s activities to promote and develop a green market, three main activities are highlighted as the good practice model that secured this success:
1) Eco Mark Programme: Type I environmental labelling – established in 1989 by Japan Environmental Association and supported by the Ministry of the Environment Japan;
2) Green Purchasing Network of Japan (GPN-J): established in 1996 as a collaboration between government, businesses, consumer associations and academia;
3) Green Purchasing Law: enacted in 2000 to promote greener purchasing by the public sector, led by the Ministry of the Environment Japan.
These three approaches have allowed Japan to become a leading nation in promoting green markets domestically and to provide support and leadership for other countries in Asia-Pacific to follow a similar path.

The study also reviews the status of green markets including tools/policies for their promotion across East Asia. It is that across East Asia there is a wide variation in terms the development of green markets. Several countries now have very well established practices often based on replicating the good practice model established in Japan. While many other countries are taking good steps towards initiating green markets but are facing limitations due to knowledge and resource constraints, and finally there are a handful of countries with smaller economies who have yet to take on any initiatives for promoting green markets. Following this, an analysis of the economic impacts of these mechanisms for green markets and their effects on international trade flows, specifically between Japan and ASEAN countries, is conducted. A further review is made of existing international cooperation efforts on green markets.

The report highlights three key messages that can guide the development of future international cooperation strategies, specifically on green market promotion, for Japan:
1) Japan should continue to work strongly with the areas of Eco-Labelling, Green Purchasing Networks, and Green Public Procurement as this is the country’s existing strengths, however Japan should also develop new areas in which to work and establish progressive niches in for their international environmental cooperation. Three areas are identified: Greening of Supply Chain, Education for Sustainable Consumption, and Corporate Social Responsibility.
2) Two parallel approaches must be accounted for. First, to identify Japan’s specific strengths that will allow it to provide strong, substantive support in its cooperation efforts on green market promotion. Second, to consider the specific context and unique needs of the individual countries Japan intends to cooperate with.
3) Substantial benefits can be achieved if this process integrates a multi-stakeholder approach during the preparatory process. Both better inter-ministerial and better public-private-civil society cooperation are needed to effectively synergize the international promotion of green markets.

The report concludes with a series of strategic recommendations and a working framework based on six detailed action plans corresponding to the areas highlighted above. These action plans outline project objectives in each priority area and identify action points for practical implementation that can frame a project schedule (in total 32 objectives and over 100 action points). Furthermore, the main relevant actors for participation in each area are identified. Consideration is also given to how Japan may relate this overall strategy to the individual specifics of each ASEAN member country and the separate approaches they could take in each country.