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Asian mayors gather to promote eco-sustainable transport
23/4/2007 16:19

Mayors from 14 Asian nations met today in Kyoto , Japan to discuss how to realize environmentally sustainable transport, as urbanization and motorization are taking an increasingly faster pace in the region.
At the opening of the Asian Mayor's Policy Dialogue for the Promotion of Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) in Cities, Tomokatsu Kitagawa, parliamentary secretary of the Japanese Environment Ministry, said "The quick economic advancement in Asia has brought urbanization, motorization and heavier environmental burden."
It has been widely recognized that "cities must play an important role" in solving the issues, Kitagawa said.
During the two-day meeting, 25 mayors from Japan, South Korea, China, India, Thailand and other Asian nations, as well as delegates from international and regional organizations are to hold discussions on how to solve the environmental and social challenges in urban transportation and share practices and information.
They are also expected to adopt a declaration on the promotion of eco-friendly transport in Asian cities at the close of the meeting.
Loh Ah Tuan, chairman of ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities said in a keynote speech that though Asian countries are on different stages of economic development, they all face environmental problems such as air and water pollutions and solid waste control.
A goal of EST, Loh said, is to achieve "efficient, seamless transport that also supports economic growth."
The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2040, vehicles in Asia would surpass those in Europe and North America. Therefore, efforts to enforce cleaner fuels and emission standards would probably be offset by the rapid growth of automobiles in the region.
Choudhury Rudra Charan Mohanty, environment program coordinator of the United Nations Center for Regional Development, said that Asia has sustained losses due to poor transport management.
He noted that some 75,000 people died each year in urban road accidents and 4.7 million were injured in ASEAN countries, leading to losses of some US$15.1 billion, or 2.2 percent of regional GDP.
Efforts to promote EST in Asia started in recent years, with dialogues, meetings and forums on the issue being held in past three years in the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia and other places in Asia.
The dialogue is co-organized by UN Center for Regional Development, ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustanable Cities, the Japanese Environment Ministry and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.