In recent years, the Northeast Asian sub-region has undergone a rapid economic development, and further growth is expected. At the same time problems such as environmental pollution and ecosystem deterioration have come to light. The serious challenge for the area is how to achieve sustainable development. While respective economic and social conditions differ substantially among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, they share the common task of having to combat environmental problems at domestic, regional, and global levels.
In this context, the environment ministers of the three countries have been holding the Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting among China, Japan and Korea (TEMM) on annual basis since 1999. Within this framework, the three countries aim to promote environmental management, to take a leading role in regional environmental management, and also to contribute to global environmental improvement.
At TEMM, the three ministers exchange views on the current environmental conditions and the concerns of each country as well as those common to the region. They also discuss how to promote environmental cooperation. China, Japan and Korea have agreed to give priority to the following areas of cooperation for TEMM: raising awareness that the three countries belong to a same environmental community, activating information exchange, strengthening cooperation in environmental research, fostering cooperation in the field of environmental industry and technology, pursuing appropriate measures to prevent air pollution and protect the marine environment, and enhancing cooperation in order to address global environmental issues such as biodiversity loss and climate change.
The three countries have been conducting concrete projects under TEMM. Projects currently underway include the development of environmental education network, joint environmental training, website creation and maintenance, freshwater (lakes) pollution prevention, collaboration in environmental industry development, and ecological conservation in Northwest China.
Inspired by TEMM and its projects, much exchange has taken place among the environmental administrations of the three countries. Additionally, TEMM projects have helped to create a broad network of local governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and researchers from the three countries. TEMM activities are highly regarded by the leaders of Japan, China and Korea as a leading example of tripartite cooperation.
The three countries believe that cooperation under TEMM is playing an important role in strengthening environmental cooperation in Northeast Asia, and they determined to undertake further activities. They also believe that the experiences and outcomes of TEMM will provide the world community with a model of how countries with different social and economic conditions can engage in effective environmental cooperation.