Japan’s recent political commitments and efforts on environmental and climate change are as follows.  

At the G20 Osaka Summit in June 2019, under Japan's leadership as the G20 Presidency, member countries shared the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, which aims to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, and which has now been shared by 87 countries and regions as of September 2021. In order to achieve the Vision, Japan announced that it would support capacity building, infrastructure development, and waste management in developing countries. In addition, it launched the MARINE Initiative, which focuses on: 1) management of wastes; 2) recovery of marine litter; 3) Innovation; and 4) empowerment, to encourage effective marine plastic litter measures. Under this initiative, Japan will support empowerment in developing countries to promote waste management, recovery of marine litter, and innovation through bilateral and multilateral co-operation.  

During the Leaders Event at COP21 held in Paris in 2015, the former Prime Minister Abe announced the Action for Cool Earth 2.0 (ACE 2.0), which aimed to support action in development countries and the advancement of innovative technologies to address climate change. As part of the contribution, Japan committed to mobilising approximately JPY 1.3 trillion of public and private climate finance to developing countries in 2020, being an important factor for agreeing the goal of USD 100 billion a year by 2020, as agreed at COP15 and adopting the Paris Agreement. At the G7 Summit 2021 in Cornwall, Prime Minister Suga stated that Japan will continue its assistance on public and private finance, with a total JPY 6.5 trillion over the next five years, from 2021 to 2025, and that Japan will further enhance its adaptation assistance to countries vulnerable to climate change. 

The former Prime Minister Abe announced the Sendai Co-operation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction Phase 2 in 2019 as a new initiative for international co-operation. Japan decided to further contribute to the international community by utilising its advanced expertise and technology in the field of disaster risk reduction. Under this initiative, Japan announced that it would provide support for at least 5 million people over the four-year period, from 2019 to 2022, to increase resilience to disasters, and provide training for a total of 48 000 people, including governmental officials and local leaders, as well as education for a total of 37 000 children on disaster risk reduction.

With regard to climate finance, Japan has provided public and private climate financing annually amounting to about JPY 1.3 trillion, equivalent to approximately USD 11.8 billion between 2016 and 2020. At the 2021 G7 Summit, in Cornwall, Japan committed to providing climate finance, both public and private, of a total of JPY 6.5 trillion over the next five years, from 2021 to 2025. This high level corresponds to its previous commitment up to 2020.  

Japan contributed USD 1.5 billion to the Green Climate Finance (GCF) fund in 2015-18, followed by another commitment of up to USD 1.5 billion in 2020-23 for the first replenishment of GCF. In total, Japan is the second largest donor of the fund next to the United Kingdom, with total contributions of up to USD 3 billion.  

  • Development Co-operation Charter: In addition to political statements and commitments on environmental and climate change, Japan’s Development Co-operation Charter, decided at cabinet level in 2015, provides the foundation for Japan’s development co-operation policy. The Charter sets out environmental and climate change as one of the priorities for Japan’s development co-operation, and includes a commitment to address these challenges on a sector basis. The Charter further stipulates an implementation principle that Japan’s development co-operation take full account of the impact on environment and climate change on a cross-sectoral basis, in order to make development compatible with environment and to achieve sustainable development.  

  • Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) Medium-term Objectives (business year 2017-21): Japan integrates an environmental and climate aspect into JICA’s Medium-term Objectives for the delivery of its bilateral co-operation programmes, in line with the Development Co-operation Charter and its political statements and commitments mentioned. Based on the objectives, JICA prepared a five-year Medium-term Plan (business year 2017-22) and a JICA Annual Plan for Fiscal Year 2021.  

The JICA Medium-term Plan (business year 2017-21) and JICA Annual Plan for Fiscal Year 2021 set forth the development co-operation priorities, such as climate change, mainstreaming disaster risk reduction (DRR) and post-disaster recovery measures, conserving the national habitat, and environmental management, in both plans.  

Operational tools include JICA’s guidelines and supporting materials, as follows.  

  • JICA’s strategy: JICA developed position papers that describe sub-sectoral background including international frameworks (such as Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]), analysis of JICA’s comparative advantages in climate and environment, and priorities in each sub-sector so JICA’s relevant departments can utilise them as guidelines and refer to them in all stages of a project (project formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation). Examples of position papers relevant to climate change and environment include:   

  • JICA Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations (ESC Guidelines): The ESC Guidelines outline JICA’s responsibilities and procedures, along with its requirements for project proponents, etc., in order to facilitate the achievement of appropriate consideration for environmental and social impacts. 

  • JICA Climate Finance Impact Tool: JICA has developed a planning tool with the view to mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation measures into JICA's development projects across sectors in order to capture the outcome of the project. The tool (two versions) helps planners to estimate greenhouse gas emissions reduction through the project (Mitigation), and assess climate risks, hence the impact on the target areas, project activities and project outcomes, and identify the adaptation measures (Adaptation). 

JICA is mainstreaming climate change in projects by incorporating climate change perspectives into a variety of sectors, such as energy, transportation, urban development, agriculture, risk reduction and forest conservation. The Office for Climate Change of the Global Environment Department in JICA is involved in the reviewing, appraisal and monitoring process in project formulation and implementation, by making use of the above-mentioned guidelines and tools for mitigation and adaptation. 

With regard to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Long-Term Strategies (LTS) as climate mitigation, Japan supports institutional and capacity development to prepare a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory as the prerequisite of mitigation measures to develop concrete plans and measures as well as review of progress, and establish policies to achieve the target in a partner country. This support encompasses the establishment of a system for mandatory accounting, reporting and disclosure of GHG emissions, and a mechanism for the development of emissions reduction plans by private entities, and evaluation of those plans by governments through the utilisation of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. Japan provides such support by utilising its experience and know-how and collaborating with JICA, the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) and international initiatives. 

In addition, as for National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) as climate adaptation, risk evaluation based on scientific knowledge and reflection upon the adaptation plans are essential for implementing adequate adaptation plans. Implementing adaptation measures also requires innovation of policy processes. By providing the latest technology and know-how obtained by its industry-government-academia partnership, Japan supports the consolidation and dissemination of information on climate risk, the establishment of risk evaluation methods, and the development of national adaptation plans in developing countries, as highlighted in Japan’s Fourth Biennial Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  

Japan has carried out some workshops to provide training to support the construction of domestic systems to prepare GHG emissions inventories and the improvement of its precision. As an example, the Workshop on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories in Asia (WGIA) has been held annually since 2003 in order to support Asian countries in improving the accuracy of their GHG inventories and to facilitate the enhancement of co-operative relationships in the Asian region. Japan also supports the submission, updating and implementation of each country’s NDC through the development of a precise emissions reduction scenario and specification of the programmes, and the technology necessary to achieve successful reduction, by utilising evaluation models.  

Japan has also promoted the establishment of long-term risk evaluation methods on storm tides and waves caused by cyclones in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including capacity development, by supporting construction and institutional development of the Pacific Climate Change Center in co-operation with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), as well as strengthening of the Climate Change International Technical and Training Center (CITC) in Thailand. Japan established the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Platform (AP-PLAT) as the information base on climate risk and adaptation measures. Through this platform, Japan provides the necessary scientific knowledge, such as climate risk information, as well as assists in the development of human resources in the Asia Pacific region. As the foundation of these programmes, Japan will also continue to promote research and development to upgrade climate models and to establish global environment information platforms (see here).  

With the aim of providing support for measures such as the capacity development of developing countries toward the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Japan contributes to the Japan Biodiversity Fund, through the workshops that the Secretariat of the Convention organised to support the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans. In addition, as part of the process of formulating the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, including the next global goals that will replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Working Group and other meetings have been held; Japan participated in and contributed to the discussions. 

Japan has been supporting partner countries’ transitions towards net-zero in various ways, and recognises that the characteristic of environmentally sustainable, climate resilient and low emissions are critically and inextricably interlinked. This is reflected in JICA’s operational strategies and plans, for example: 

  • With regard to biodiversity and environment conservation, Japan recognises that the natural environment and biodiversity are the foundation of human existence, and its conservation and sustainable use will contribute to its resilience to climate change and the improvement of livelihood. 

  • Concerning climate mitigation toward low-emissions development, in its co-operation, particularly on energy transitions, Japan stressed the importance of a diverse and multilinear approach that utilises a wide range of technologies and options that take into account the circumstances of each country rather than a uniform and single-line approach. Japan believes that taking climate actions should be compatible with economic development in the partner countries. As for mitigation, Japan provides assistance by introducing renewable energy, including solar energy, biomass and geothermal, and facilities with high-energy efficiency, to contribute to reducing GHG emissions. 

  • Japan promotes co-operation in the field of adaptation with irrigation, selective breeding of crops, disaster risk reduction, ecosystem conservation and control of infectious diseases. Adaptation covers various sectors, and climate resilience is one of the crosscutting principles that penetrate these sectors. In order to enhance resilience to climate change, Japan supports infrastructure development, such as waterworks, irrigation, facility and equipment for DRR. Japan also supports the development and dissemination of drought-resistant and short-duration rice varieties for sustainable and stable food supply, and provides support for agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers vulnerable to climate change.  

  • JICA operational strategies include: 

Japan has been leading international discussions and actively promoting quality infrastructure investment at international conferences and bilateral leaders’ meetings. As a result, the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment was endorsed by G20 leaders at the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019.  

Japan developed “quality infrastructure” in line with the economic and development strategies of developing countries and trains human resources to maintain and operate the infrastructure. Japan’s strength lies in helping develop infrastructure that is truly contributory to “quality growth” in developing countries, which also includes technology transfer and job creation. 

One of the projects related to quality infrastructure in terms of low emissions and being environmentally sustainable is the Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project in India, which aims to reduce traffic congestion and serious air pollution problems caused by GHG emissions from vehicles, by constructing a subway and elevated railway system in Delhi. In this project, the regenerative brake system (a Japanese company’s energy efficient technology) was introduced to the metro system, and it is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 22 million tonnes (total reduction between 2022 and 2032). The project was registered by the United Nations as the world’s first Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in the railway sector. Additionally, the project resulted in improving the economy and enhancing environmental conditions (see here). 

  • Environmental sustainability: Sustainable natural resource management is important both in terms of environmental aspects, such as biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, disaster prevention and climate change mitigation and adaptation, and in the development of rural areas and poverty reduction. Japan supports Viet Nam in enhancing their capacity for sustainable natural resource management in five provinces and reflects knowledge and experiences obtained from those provinces into national policies related to forest and biodiversity conservation. Through these efforts, Japan promotes the management of sustainable natural resources, resulting in multifaceted benefits for people. Japan has also supported El Salvador in promoting conservation and wise use of wetlands.

  • Mitigation and low emissions: Japan contributes to sustainable development through the introduction of renewable energy to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as to enhance the power supply. In India, Japan contributed to industrial development and improvement of living standards in Meghalaya through optimum utilisation of water resources, by renovating the Umian-Umtru Stage 3 Hydroelectric Power Station. Furthermore, Japan has been supporting the rehabilitation of units 1-3 of the Olkaria I Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya. In addition, Japan has been co-operating in reducing GHG emissions through the electrification of local areas and the improvement of transmission efficiency. In Cambodia, Japan has been supporting an increase in the number of substations and the expansion of the transmission and distribution network in Phnom Penh. In Uganda, in order to stabilise and improve the reliability of the power supply in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area, Japan has been supporting the construction of new 220 kilovolt substations, upgrades to existing 132 kilovolt substations, strengthening of the urban electricity transmission grid, and the provision of a mobile substation for emergency responses.

  • Adaptation and DRR: Apart from the assistance during and immediately following disasters, Japan has provided equipment that contributes to the prevention and mitigation of disaster, and education of local government staff. For example, in Fiji, in order to prevent disasters and mitigate their impacts, Japan provided equipment, such as lifeboats to local police agencies responsible for conservation of the ocean and lifesaving and rescue operations, as well as training on initial action, including life-saving and searches in the event of a disaster. In Papua New Guinea, Japan installed solar electricity generation systems and seawater desalination equipment in the facilities that are easily accessible and expected to provide lifeline energy and water at the time of a disaster. Through such support, Japan ensures the developing countries provide electricity and drinking water during ordinary times and a necessary lifeline at the time of a disaster (cf. power, and water sources). Furthermore, in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, Japan contributed to increasing public awareness and creating a community that enhances the capacity of disaster prevention. In addition, in order to promptly respond to post-disaster, large-scale financial needs in El Salvador, Japan supported El Salvador with its standby loan for natural disaster recovery. As a prerequisite of financing, JICA encourages implementation of DRR initiatives and investment in DRR, as noted in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Similar co-operation activities have been carried out in the Philippines and Peru. Other co-operation activities by JICA on disaster risk finance include the promotion of weather index insurance and agricultural insurance in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Japan has also proactively disseminated and supported Eco-DRR, which performs disaster risk reduction by utilising ecosystems such as forests that provides protection against natural disaster. Japan supported the enhancement of costal disaster prevention through mangrove afforestation in Myanmar. In the Philippines, it supported the development of monitoring systems and a decision-making system for adaptive management to conserve coastal ecosystems to prevent the erosion of sandy beaches, to mitigate natural disaster.

  • Conservation of Ocean Resources: Japan supports sustainable fishing and the sustainable development of fishing communities worldwide. Hence, Japan has been providing various kinds of assistance to developing countries on deterrence and counter measures against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as on sustainable use and management of fisheries resources in the form of training sessions and workshops, construction of fishery surveillance vessels, etc. through JICA and with the co-operation of regional organisations, such as the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC).

In its Development Co-operation Charter, Japan highlighted SIDS as one of the priority areas for the region: “With respect to small island countries in Oceania, the Caribbean and other regions also have vulnerabilities that are peculiar to small island countries. They are also faced with the challenge of coping with the effects of global environmental problems, including water scarcity, damage due to sea level rise and natural disasters associated with climate change. Japan will provide assistance based on individual development needs while bearing in mind the peculiarities of small island countries.”

With regard to Pacific Island countries, Japan has hosted the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting(PALM), a summit meeting between Japan and Pacific Island countries every three years since 1997. In July 2021, the Ninth Pacific Island Leader’s Meeting (PALM9) was held on line. During the meeting, Prime Minister Suga announced Japan’s Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy, which would further strengthen co-operation between Japan and Pacific Island countries. The Leaders also endorsed the Joint Action Plan as an annex of the PALM9 Leaders Declaration. The Joint Action Plan details concrete activities in the five priority areas, including “Climate Change and Disaster Resilience”, over the next three years, under Japan’s Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy.  

In Pacific Island countries, Japan provides comprehensive assistance through “mainstreaming disaster risk reduction”, which includes training the meteorological agency personnel of each country and developing rapid evacuation systems for residents. For example, approximately 300 people were trained in fiscal year 2019, with indirect beneficiaries reaching approximately 50 000 people. Furthermore, to support Pacific Island countries’ efforts to address issues related to climate change, Japan collaborates with SPREP, based in Samoa, to foster human resources engaged in counter measures for climate change in each country.

In addition, as part of the MARINE Initiative, Japan provides support for strengthening the foundations of human resources, organisations and systems related to sustainable waste management in the Oceania region.

In Caribbean countries, in addition to developing disaster-resilient bridges and emergency communications systems, and supplying equipment that contributes to strengthening the ability to cope with disasters, Japan also dispatches flood control and soil erosion control experts, and provides technical co-operation and support for climate change measures in a wide area of eight Caribbean countries.

Japan has been supporting SIDS’ access to finance (including the Green Climate Fund) through the following programmes:

  • The Project for Capacity Building on Climate Resilience in the Pacific (Samoa): The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), which is the executing agency of the project, is an international organisation headquartered in Samoa and composed of 26 countries and regions in Oceania. Activities of the agency include formulating and implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, and providing information in the international arena. It was expected that SPREP would, as a human resource training base in Oceania, develop human resources capable of addressing new challenges, such as strengthening the access that countries have to the Green Climate Fund and promoting aid co-ordination.

  • Enhancing Access to Climate Finance - Theory and Application for Practitioners (Training Programme/2021-2023): This course, targeting officials from National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and line ministries, aims to improve access to climate finance by enhancing their skills to formulate climate change projects and develop concept notes, thereby contributing to a decarbonised and resilient society.

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