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 (February 2010)
"People to People Relationships"
- the Key to Bridging Communities and the World

Masanori Kobayashi
IGES Programme Management Office

Mr. Kobayashi obtained his undergraduate degree in law from Chiba University (Bachelor of Law), and Master's degree majoring in international law at the International Christian University (MA), and the University of Georgia (LLM) in the USA. He served as Specialised Researcher in the Economic Section of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as Advisor on Sustainable Development in the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development (both in New York). He then served as Programme Officer for the Asia Regional Facilitation Unit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat (Geneva and Bonn), before coming to IGES in August 2004.

IGES undertakes a wide range of work to support efforts to achieve sustainable development by undertaking operation work and network activities including the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED), the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) and the Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVForum). IGES is also actively involved in other priority international environmental policy processes. In this E-alert interview, we talked to Mr. Masanori Kobayashi (Coordinator of the IGES Programme Management Office), who plays a leading role in these international network and policy facilitation processes.

Working for a better society

---- What made you get involved in environmental issues?


In my childhood, it was my father who taught me the importance of carrying out work "to do good for our society", and I would say that this was a big influence on me. I studied international law at universities in Japan and abroad. Then, I got involved in research on economic cooperation and environmental preservation, mainly at the UN while I worked in New York at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and at the UN Headquarters. Thereafter, I continued environmental work for combating desertification. Development and environment issues relate to nation state politics, social justice and ethics. These issues are quite profound. At the same time, environmental work gives me opportunities to view concrete results in the field. I feel this work is very satisfying.

Ebullient international networks in Asia

---- As a Coordinator at IGES, you work in close association with international networks such as the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED), the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) and the Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVForum). IGES attaches a great deal of importance to these international alliances. Could you tell us about the concrete activities of each?

Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED)


APFED II Final Report Drafting Meeting
(Bali, Indonesia)

APFED promotes policy dialogue, demonstration projects, good practice awards as well as case study and research works in cooperation with an Asian regional network of research institutes to support both macro policy transformation and community-based activities towards achieving sustainable development. At the same time, APFED broadly disseminates information gained through these activities.

APFED was founded in 2001, and in its second phase (from 2005) has been promoting a wide variety of projects that link policy and the field, including 47 demonstration projects. There have been 21 good practice case studies conducted as well. Serving as its secretariat, IGES cooperates with partner institutions and experts not just to present case studies per se but to elucidate the success factors of good practices and articulate on future policy issues with a view to promoting innovative policies and activities. In 2009, we produced booklets and a DVD on good practice and innovative demonstration projects around priority policy areas such as "climate change", the "3Rs" and "biodiversity" and presented diverse perspectives on how to best achieve a synergistic effect between local community activities and governmental macro-policies.
APFED official website >>


Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN)
---- So you provide the follow-up in policy development from community-level projects. What kind of activities are taking place through AECEN, for which IGES has started operating as the secretariat recently?

AECEN is an Asian regional network of governmental agencies that promotes compliance and enforcement of environmental law. There are many pollution control legislations in Asia, but in some cases these laws are not followed in reality, nor have they proven to be effective. The activities of AECEN are threefold. First, it conducts policy dialogue to effectively advance the implementation of environment law. Second, it conducts a so-called "Twinning Project" or a bilateral cooperation programme in which a member country that has comparatively advanced experiences of environmental governance on a particular environmental issue shares its experience with another country or institute. For example, IGES shares the experiences of Japan in soil contamination countermeasure acts with Thailand, which does not yet have a law that specifically addresses such an issue. Third, AECEN gives an award to a female government official in Asia to acknowledge and praise her work for making outstanding achievements in environmental administration as a part of the efforts to promote the active involvement of women in the environmental governance field.

---- In the diverse Asian region, isn't it quite difficult to put the projects of one country into practice in another?

Exactly. It is difficult to take an example from one country and apply it in another country. So, ideally, it is better to study advanced cases of a certain country and modify them in order to make such lessons better fit in the particular national context of another country. Furthermore, it is not always the developed nations that are the models. Let's take an example of environmental impact assessment (EIA). Some developing countries have a higher frequency of EIA than Japan. So, sometimes, we learn more progressive policy measures from other developing countries and find a policy gap on the side of Japan. This is a very significant perspective. Japan is not always a front runner of everything in Asia. It is imperative that we also share lessons and information gained from other countries with people in Japan and promote a mutual learning process of Asian countries including developed and developing ones.

Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVForum)
---- With ENVForum, IGES co-organised a side event at COP15 and has been building strong networks. How are Asia and Europe carrying out cooperation?

REDD Side Event, COP15
  In the ENVForum, a wide range of stakeholders from Asia and Europe are engaged in policy dialogue on diverse sustainability policy issues. At COP15, IGES, the ENVForum and other institutes held a side event on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), a key issue related to the future climate policy regime. When it comes to a variety of countries getting together to work in cooperation toward a common goal, Asia and Europe have a generic aim. However, the cooperative relationships of countries in Asia are not as mature as those in Europe. As such, the ENVForum provides an opportunity to learn an advanced European collaborative model, and meanwhile experience such European-style methods for inter-regional cooperation. Through these activities, the countries of Asia will strengthen cooperative relationships as we cooperate with Europe.

Issues for international partnerships and networks
---- Progress is being made in cooperative alliances both within and outside Asia. What are the key issues that these international alliances will face in the future?


All networks share a common issue--that is to move one step further by going beyond the realm of dialogue and information exchange to the stage of achieving long-term improvements to problems in a visible and tangible way. For example, it would be ideal for the outcome of dialogue to be transformed into concrete programmes for promoting human resource and institutional capacity development. Also, concrete programmes or projects can be materialised with technical support provided by an agency like the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Funding is one issue, and cooperation among institutions and partners needs to be upgraded to more substantive levels. In order to mobilise financial resources, it is crucial to clearly show the extent of damages society would suffer over the long-term if problems are left as they are, and also the extent of benefit a society can gain from undertaking concrete measures to improve the environment.

As an issue for IGES, we can contribute to the development of frameworks for international partnership, by serving as the secretariat of these forums and networks or operating as an active member. Meanwhile, it is important for IGES to take a lead in the areas of research and policy facilitation and to reveal the concrete outcome of research and operational activities carried out under the umbrella of these networks. IGES needs to get actively involved in both the network framework and operational activities and to deliver concrete outcome.

Key expertise for addressing environment issues = "Managing people to people relationships"
---- You are involved with many people active in the environmental field in Asia. What factors are important in your daily work to handle international partnership and network activities that address environmental issues?


The other day, a university student asked me "what expertise is required to pursue work in the field of environment in the future?" Environmental problems definitely bridge many fields. One way is to specialise in a particular area and develop expertise. But it is also true that possessing a depth of knowledge in any particular area is not necessarily enough. My reply to that student was that it can be possible to build up expertise in managing organisations and communities and to obtain skills on "how to mobilise and manage people." Such skills would be helpful in future work in the field of environment. Or even if one doesn't immediately work in the field of environment, they can be still useful for work at a private enterprise, government or NGO. Environmental problems cannot be solved by one person. Knowledge and compassion to develop projects, mobilisation of people and building networks are of utmost importance to build a sustainable society. In the networking activities in which IGES is involved, we value such partnership and inter-personal relationships; they should not be one-way, but should be for mutual learning based on mutual trust. For the IGES White Paper, due to be released in July of 2010, I worked together with my team colleagues to contribute a paper on local community and environment. A central theme of environmental problems is how to appeal to the hearts of people to prompt behavioural changes while changing the systems of local communities for the better. It is crucial to nurture human resources that can master the skills to make appeals to society and carry out awareness-raising campaigns for the general public. There is a need for people who employ such skills as experts.

A bridge between communities and the world
---- Lastly, is there an issue on which you wish to work in the future?


APFED field survey with local family
in Mithi, Pakistan
I would like to support projects in our neighbourhood that we propose in our research, network and policy facilitation work, and to unfold some leading edge activities that contribute to the environment. This is because I believe that the activities we do on our home turf, that is, the ones in our communities and within Japan, are a part of the basis for manifesting policy input in Asia and the world. While on the one hand we propose environmental protection to developing countries, we are dependent on foreign countries (including developing countries) for commodities essential to our lives, such as food, lumber and energy. It is thus vital for us to reinforce our role in the forming and proving of models for self-reliant social development in harmony with the natural environment while understanding the reality we are faced with. To pursue a principle of building a better relationship between the environment and human society, I think it would be wonderful if we could develop a model that can be a leading edge in setting the best human-environment relationships and building local communities in Japan and Asia, and if we could present such a model to the world. It would be great if IGES is to play a role in bridging the gap between Japan and the world in such a process. This may sound like a pipe dream, but I hope to continue my work by reminding myself from time to time of such a sense of mission.

---- Thank you.

Interviewers: Eiko Kitamura and Sae Yamaguchi (Research Supporting Section)

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