After reading this article entitled “India’s Vision for an Urban Future” from Forbes regarding India tapping Japanese expertise for its new urban eco-town development plans I wanted to find out more about the Kitakyushu Eco-Town program.
So I asked a friend of mine (a fellow Canadian living in Japan who recently completed a PhD for which he studied questions of sustainability and urbanism) if he knew anything about it.
His initial response (excerpted below) inspired me to do a bit more of my own research.
“i have heard of it but don’t know much about it. like much eco-based topics here the literature seems to be heavy on platitudes and not so much content. i am curious though, now i see the article. i guess the expertise could be related to cleanups from insanely toxic pollution in the 60’s, and certainly trains. but why the eco-town idea is related to india i am not certain. it seems an odd fit on first blush. thanks for the link though, am looking into it.”
You can read for yourself at the links listed above but the basic gist is that due to enormously “successful” rapid industrialization Kitakyushu developed into one of the four largest industrial zones in Japan during the early post war period. As a result of this industrialization the pollution levels led by the 1970s to a city-wide movement to clean up. Kitakyushu had an environmental protection department before the nation did and over the last few decades have become a role model for a clean, green model of industrial development. Now in order to retain their leadership position they recently launched the Ecotown Program. The programs goal is to “See all waste as material for other industries, reduce waste as much as possible (zero emission)’ and foster a resource recycling society.”
The Kitakyushu approach seems similar in it’s industrial respects to the Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis model which seeks to wring all efficiencies out of processes at the regional or in Kitakyushu’s case town scale. In both cases the focus on “sustainability” seems to come from a business model. In the sense that it is not about green for political/moral/ethical reasons but for efficiency and cost savings etc. The basic idea seems to be to try and replicate as much as possible the natural condition of resource streams wherein there is no waste, simply re-processed energy. Ie: One animal or plants waste is another’s energy. So for example an emphasis on recycling and other waste stream side interventions.