Interviews TOP

no.015 [Nov. 2010]
Jusen ASUKA (Director, IGES Climate Change Group)
no.014 [Aug. 2010]
Magnus BENGTSSON (Director, IGES Sustainable Consumption and Production Group)
no.013 [Feb. 2010]
Masanori KOBAYASHI (Coordinator, IGES Programme Management Office)
no.012 [Sep. 2009]
Charmine KODA (Journalist & IGES Board Director)
no.011 [Feb. 2009]
Peter KING (Senior Policy Advisor, IGES Bangkok Office)
no.010 [Nov. 2008]
Rajendra PACHAURI (Director-General, TERI) & Dr. Rabinder MALIK (Coordinator, TERI-Japan)
no.009 [Aug. 2008]
Hideaki KOYANAGI (Director, IGES Beijing Office)
no.008 [Feb.2008]
Taka HIRAISHI (Member of the Board of Directors & Senior Consultant, IGES)
no.007 [Jul.2007]
(Chair of the Board of Directors, IGES)
no.006 [Mar.2007]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
no.005 [Jul.2006]
ANCHA Srinivasan
(Principal Research Fellow, IGES)
no.004 [Mar.2006]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
no.003 [Nov.2005]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
no.002 [Jun.2005]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
(Former Chair of the Board of Directors, IGES)

E-alert Interviews No.002
Anticipating Problems: Effective Environmental Policies and Institutions for Economic Integration in Asia

Dr. Moustapha Kamal Gueye
Policy Researcher, Long-term Perspective and Policy Integration Project, IGES

image: Dr. Kamal
Dr. Kamal has Ph.D. and MA in International Cooperation Studies from Nagoya University, Japan and a DEA and LLM from Dakar University. He joined IGES in April 2001. His current research areas are financing for renewable energy development, policy integration on trade and environment, and public interest action and representative action in environmental litigation. Prior to joining IGES, he worked with FAO and UNCTAD.

--- You have a wide and very good mixture of expertise on financing, energy, trade, etc. What originally led you to become a researcher?
There were two reasons really - I wanted to do so, but it was also accidental. I understand your question to mean not only an 'environmental' researcher, as I have been doing research in other areas. I have an interest in learning, and defining approaches to finding solutions to problems. Science, or rather knowledge, is the starting point for making decisions. That's the role of research for me - to generate knowledge so society can make informed decisions. The other reason was simply accidental. I happened to be studying, and I kept studying, and then next thing I realised I had a PhD and I was a researcher!

--- Many people may be curious to know why and how you, who are from Senegal, are working on research focusing on the Asia-Pacific region. What brought you to Japan originally?
It has to do with what I was doing before I came to Japan. I was at law school, where I was studying International Economic Law (which deals with the legal systems of the international monetary and trading systems), but when I came to write my Masters thesis, that was at the time of the Liberian civil war in December 1989. That was a development that struck me, and I decided I would look at international law, not just from an economic perspective, but other dimensions such as peacekeeping mechanisms. I decided to write my Masters thesis on peacekeeping in Liberia, and the role of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.

image: Dr. Kamal
After looking at the question of political stability within the overall context of development, I came to realise that growth was a very important thing, because in comparing Liberia to my home country of Senegal, I saw that although Senegal had good political stability in contrast to Liberia, it still had many problems in terms of development and meeting basic human needs. Stability was not enough to ensure development - you need political stability, but you also need growth and a big market, to deliver employment and have high rates of investment. So my attention turned to the economic dimensions of development. I was thinking that for Africa, which has so many countries, many of them small and limited in terms of capacity, regional economic integration is an important policy aspect.

I did a comparative study of regional integration in Africa and other regions, including research on ASEAN, the Association of South-East Asian Nations. I wanted to deepen my understanding of economic integration in Southeast Asia, because for me it was one of the most successful models of economic integration among developing countries, so I decided to focus on that in advanced university studies.

I was initially supposed to join the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, but eventually came to Japan as I won a scholarship to Japan and because of its proximity to Southeast Asia. I was recommended to go to either Yokohama University or Nagoya University, because these were the pioneers in Japan in terms of offering a programme on international development studies. It just happened that I was accepted by Nagoya University first, so I decided to go there! When I came to Nagoya I decided to do a Masters again, in Development Studies.

--- Obviously you came to Japan to study economic integration in Southeast Asia as a model for West Africa, but do you think Southeast Asia can learn anything in turn from West Africa?
Of course it goes both ways. Regional integration in Southeast Asia is largely market-driven, in the sense that intra-regional trade and investment have been well ahead of the formal legal and institutional mechanisms. On the other hand, it seems to me that institutional integration is much more developed in West Africa, if one takes for example the case of WAEMU (the West African Economic and Monetary Union). I do see a lot of things being done in Western Africa which would be very useful to ASEAN, such as financial and monetary coordination.

Role of free trade in developing countries in Asia
--- From your experience in Asia, how do you see the role of free trade in developing countries?
image: Dr. Kamal
The trade structures among Asian countries are generally found to be complementary, especially with regard to exports between Japan, the newly industrialising economies, ASEAN countries and China. This complementary structure has been associated with the so-called flying-geese model in the regional division of labour, whereby certain industries are shifted from the more advanced countries (e.g. Japan) to countries catching up from behind (e.g. the NIES and ASEAN). This pattern has benefited Southeast Asia I would say, and has created a system of complementary trade patterns. But you still see protectionism in agriculture for example, so there isn't a complete pattern of free trade across the region. International trade is built on the comparative advantage of nations. If you don't have a system that reflects the state of comparative advantage, then the rules of the game are not really fair and result in distortions. Governments have many reasons to be protectionist, but that also has many negative impacts for growth, efficiency and welfare in general.
--- What would you say is the most exciting aspect of your research?
What I've found particularly exciting in the work I do at IGES is the question of financing mechanisms for renewable energy, and also ensuring that trade policies and liberalisation contribute to the objectives of sustainable development - in other words, the environmental aspect of trade policies. Trade liberalisation can deliver growth, which is an important aspect of poverty alleviation and economic development, but we must still ensure that trade does not have negative and irreversible environmental effects.

--- And what would you say is the most challenging aspect of your research?
Talking about environmental sustainability in relation to trade for example - IGES as an institution has so far been working on environmental policies, so the challenge we have now is to adapt our research and the focus that we have to what is important for the Asia-Pacific region. The process of regional economic integration and trade liberalisation that is now taking place in various countries in the region is a very important development that will have tremendous implications for the environment. There is a need to consider what would be effective environmental institutions and policies compatible with the presence of economic integration. That would require us to adjust our level of analysis of environmental policies, while extending our focus beyond the environment per se, to other sectoral areas, such as trade and investment policies, that have important effects on the environment. For us to be able to deliver research-based policy advice on important but emerging or yet to come policy agendas is indeed a challenge.

--- Looking at life outside IGES, how do you compare living in Senegal, Nagoya and Hayama?
Nagoya is not a very big city, so it's a place that's easy to live in. I don't like a very busy environment. For living or working I prefer to be in quiet places. I wouldn't like to live in Tokyo for example - you get so tired just going from one place to another!

image: Dr. Kamal
If I was to compare Senegal and Japan in terms of living in a developing country and in an industrialised country, I see different aspects and problems of development in different ways. In Senegal, many people are confronted with issues of basic needs, but even though the state isn't able to deliver them for everyone, the social system very much complements what the state fails to do. For example, you would hardly see homeless people in Senegal. Many people have no employment or regular sources of income, but they are able to survive because of social solidarity.

On the other hand, Japan is a land of opportunity, but somehow there is also exclusion, and the social structure is not as flexible. There are opportunities for everyone, but if you fail to get them, you're excluded. I don't think there are really poor people in Japan, but there's a phenomenon of exclusion if you fail to integrate yourself in the social and economic structure. You see a lot of homeless people and people who cannot take care of themselves, when the country has the means. The contrast is between the capacity of the state, and the social structure. While countries such as Japan have social insurance, they don't always have the family as a safety net. Of course developing countries have plenty to learn from developed countries, but this is one area where developed countries need to reinvent society and look back at societal mechanisms of inclusion that one still finds in developing countries.

--- What do you hope to achieve in your further research at IGES?
I would like to see us make a good contribution in terms of research in this area of environmentally sustainable economic integration in Asia. I hope we can build on strong partnerships within IGES. We have also started to build strategic partnerships with other institutions, in Korea, China, India and Southeast Asia. It would be an achievement to build a strong policy research network across these countries.

LTP (Long-term Perspective and Policy Integration Project) should focus its research on important issues, but we should be able to react to new issues and emerging agendas. As researchers, we don't have to be stuck in one area of research - we should be flexible. For example, I studied at law school, I worked on peacekeeping, and finally I looked at foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia in the context of regional integration. But I also felt the importance of the environment within the overall context of development, and that's what took me to IGES. Having worked in all these areas, I see that they are interrelated. You cannot call yourself a policy researcher if you only see these issues from, say, a legal point of view - you have to look at the economic or environmental aspects too.

--- Finally, what is strategic research in your opinion?
In IGES we always discuss the difference between 'policy research' and 'strategic research'. The role of strategic research as we do it in IGES is to find out what are the options one has in addressing a problem. My understanding of policy research is to evaluate the different options we have, and find out which of these options would be most efficient, workable, and in line with other social priorities, not just environmental concerns.

Strategic research is also to anticipate problems. The reason, for example, why LTP has decided to work on economic integration in Asia is not because it's a phenomenon that's already here, but because it's a process we see taking place in Asia over the next 15 to 20 years. We are anticipating this phenomenon, and trying to see when this is taking place what sort of environmental policies and institutions would be needed.

---- Thank you very much.

- Financing Sustainable Development: Trends and Emerging Policy Approaches in Asia and the Pacific by Kamal Gueye. Abstract available on //www.iges.or.jp/en/pub/ires/pdf/vln3_1/9.html

Interviewers: Rory Goulding (Research Support Division) and Reiko Koyama (Information Dissemination and Outreach Programme)

IGES HOME Interview Top