Green Alliance Japan
Alliance of Japanese environmental NPOs/NGOs established on 5 June 2015.
Allied to make stronger appeals to politicians and the public to build a democratic, fair, environmentally conscious and sustainable civil society.
Why “Green Alliance Japan”?
Nearly half a century has passed since the convening of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference, 1972), and almost a quarter of a century since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit,1992).
Over the years, various measures have been taken to tackle with emerging environmental issues all over the world. These global movements as well as the enactment of the Japanese Act on Promotion of Specified Non-profit Activities (to support the formation of a sound civil society in Japan) became a driving force for Japanese people to establish a number of environmental NPOs/NGOs in various parts of the country. It also served to promote various initiatives including environmental conservation activities at the community level or advocacy actions at the national and global level. These NPOs/NGOs have strived to find solutions through a diverse range of activities making full use of their expertise and their positions as independent entities.
Meanwhile, however, global warming and resulting climate change have gradually intensified, causing serious damage around the globe. Significant biodiversity loss dubbed as the ‘sixth mass extinction’ and the widespread chemical pollution has resulted in the widespread degradation of our precious environment – the very basis of human/social life as well as economic activities. Moreover, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 2011 was a wake-up call for Japan and the rest of the world to address energy transition, and raised the fundamental question of how we perceive “richness” in our current civilisation. We now have come to a critical stage where the very existence of our society is being threatened.
These issues stem from past values, lifestyles, technologies, socio-economic systems that we have pursued, seeking for further economic expansion without considering the finite nature of the earth. To solve these issues, fundamental policy changes will be needed based on ethical, political and science-based decision-making, and for that purpose, our wisdom will be more important to ensure the successful paradigm shift of our civilisation.
Unfortunately, fundamental policy changes have only inched forward in Japan, as the Japanese government continues to neglect sustainability and prioritise policies that emphasise the short-term economic growth.
Deeply concerned these lamentable policy trends, environmental NPOs/NGOs in Japan have arrived at a common understanding that, to overcome various environmental issues and to build a democratic, fair and sustainable society based on the “environment” (the foundation for all life and human activities), it is of vital importance to act together – going beyond the difference of their respective missions and objectives – and to advocate together for the benefit of both the present and future generations.
For these reasons, we established the Green Alliance Japan (GAJ) on 5 June 2015 to network various environmental NPOs/NGOs in Japan and to spark a great surge in Japanese society toward a sustainable and affluent society. We chose to work together for the conservation of the critical global environment, collating knowledge and experiences accumulated to date.
The Alliance currently has 82 member NGOs/NPOs(as of July 2019).
- Draft possible policies that promote the transition to a sustainable society and propose them to the general public
- Make recommendations to strengthen the organisational foundation of environmental NGOs/NPOs and encourage actions
- Support enhancing the policy advocacy power of environmental NGOs/NPOs
- Disseminate information through the publication of Green Watch: A Civic Society Environmental White Paper and other media, based on independent studies and analysis
- Organise national gatherings of environmental NGOs/NPOs, and promote international communication
- Exchange information with policymakers, media, business community, researchers, and other stakeholders
- Share information with non-environmental NGOs/NPOs and their networks that aim to build a sustainable society, and organise collaborative activities with them
Publication of Green Watch
As part of its activities, GAJ, from the year of its establishment, started to compile Green Watch for two reasons.
The first is to analyse the current state of environmental problems in Japan as well as their countermeasures from a non-governmental perspective, and disseminate the analysis to a wider audience.
Each year, the government publishes an environmental white paper, Annual Report on the Environment in Japan. This document evaluates the state of the environment from the government’s perspective and explains the relevance and legality of their policy measures to the public. As such, their views do not necessarily coincide with those of environmental NGOs/NPOs, non-profit expert groups working on various environmental issues. If the difference is of no substantial importance, it would be fine to see it as just two differing points of view due to the difference of the status. However, under the current situation, the difference cannot be overlooked because several key contents of the government white paper may not help people make appropriate decisions, or mislead their understanding/evaluation of issues, or are not in alignment with mid- to long-term national benefits. Therefore, in order to promote sound environmental policies in Japan, we decided to publish Green Watch and deliver it to as many stakeholders as possible because we strongly believe it is necessary for people to gain knowledge and perspectives that are different from those of the government.
Secondly, through providing information that differs from the perspective of the government, we hope to raise awareness on environmental problems and encourage people to participate in NGO/NPO activities and act themselves for solutions. Environmental problems are issues that involve each and every one of us, but still very few people take actions to find solutions. In Japan, we still face many other issues of life such as unstable employment, economic disparities, child poverty, and education and welfare issues. Under these pressures, people may be hesitant to take action on environmental issues where the effects and actual value of actions are not clearly seen. However, the environment is the foundation for the existence of all living creatures, our day-to-day lives, as well as social and economic activities. As this very foundation now faces a perilous situation, we cannot leave it all up to politicians, bureaucrats and a limited number of experts to find solutions. All stakeholders need to have an accurate understanding of the current state of the environment and make appropriate contributions in their respective fields. We hope that Green Watch will spark this action.
Given the fact that ever-more serious environmental degradation emerging all over the world, and that young people have recently been standing up to stop global climate change, we wrote up the Green Watch 2019 to convey truthful information to a diverse range of audience, including the young generation, so that we can create a sustainable society where all can lead safe, secure, and fulfilling lives. It is this truthful information that forms the basis for a sustainable society.