Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Future Cities and Green Growth

Imagine the following newspaper front page:

"Two countries sign the first Green Trade Partnership -GTP. The agreement aims at promoting investment, infrastructure development, transfer, manufacturing and international trade of smart city technologies, renewable energies, bio-industry, environmentally sustainable agriculture, and special visa conditions for tourists and businessmen and women that will engage in conservation and eco-tourism activities."

We want to believe that Japan has the right conditions to be one of those two countries. I already has the technology, the policy, the infrastructure, the financial capability, the track record and, most importantly, the urgency to move faster towards a low-carbon economy, reducing the country's ecological footprint.

We also believe that Costa Rica is a likely partner for this green growth initiative. In the last 30 years, Costa Rica has tripled its GDP and doubled its forest coverage at the same time. More than sustainable development, Costa Rica is an example of regenerative development.

With 95% of electricity from renewable sources and almost 30% of its ecosystems under legal protection, it is clear that Costa Rica is already a green country.

Today we want to invite you to imagine the newspaper headline and imagine it with your country's name on it.

What will it take to change the world as we know it? A lot of work and commitment indeed. First and foremost, it must start with a vision we can share and agree upon.

It is my great honor to introduce Dr. Rene Castro, Costa Rican Minister. His vision of a more prosperous world has changed Costa Rica since 1994 when he was Environment and Energy Minister for the first time, and I was a first year Law student. His influence in my career has been very profound.

I want to thank Ota-san from JICA and Kondo-san from the Ministry of Internal Communications for accepting to share their vision with you today. It is my firm belief that smart cities are the future. Japan knows it and it is an idea that could transform the world as we know it.

I also want to thank the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Association of Japan, and Aoyama Gakuin University for supporting and co-sponsoring this event and taking on the challenge to create shared value together.

Finally, I thank you all for coming, fellow Ambassadors and diplomats, public officers of the Japanese government, executives of private corporations, professors, students and friends. I hope we can imagine the future together.

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