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Eco notes

New International Transfer Centre for Environmental Technology

Leipzig - The Internationale Transferzentrum fur Umwelttechnik (International Transfer Centre for Environmental Technology- ITUT) in Leipzig aims to make hands-on contributions to sustainable development. ITUT sees itself as a platform where the state, academia and private companies can work together with institutions from partner countries. Established in 1996, ITUT wants to integrate private companies from the environmental sector more closely into international cooperation.

In this way Germany can intensify its efforts to help solve global problems and expand its leading role in environmental technology.

Nations attending the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro undertook to work towards a global partnership for environment and development which would guarantee sustainable development. Industrialised countries undertook to develop environmentally-sound technologies and ease and encourage their spread world-wide. ITUT will promote needs-oriented environmental technology. Assuming that integrated solutions are the an swer to the future, the centre offers holistic concepts, system solutions and services in planning, constructing and operating environmental engineering facilities and production plants. It also provides assistance with individual components or products.

Although Germany's environmental protection industry is already making an important contribution to transferring environmental technology, experts feel that it is not fully exploiting its market opportunities. A chief cause is the structure of Germany's environmental sector which is dominated by small and mediumsized industries who do not have sufficient capacity to overcome the hurdles to offer their services and systems on the international markets. ITUT wants to facilitate export activities for these companies, in line with the goals of Agenda 21.

ITUT has a twin-track basis for its work:

· it is a non-profit making association acting as an information and communication centre for environmental protection know-how, and

· a private limited company networking the demand with the supplier side.

The private limited company closely co-operates with nine environmental area managers located in the foreign trade chambers of selected partner countries: China (Shanghai), India (Bombay),

South-East Asia (Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur), Latin America (Sao Paulo) and Central and Eastern Europe (Budapest, Prague, Warsaw). Activities also include providing information to potential buyers of services and products offered by German companies.

The association arranges contacts with research establishments to ensure needs-ori ented solutions and also helps in identifying training courses and company attachments in Germany.

ITUT- Internationales
Transferzentrum felttechnik
Businesspark Leipzig
Zschortauer Str. 1 A
D04129 Leipzig, Germany
Tel. +49 341/6 09 67-50
Fax:+49 341/6 09 67-51

Environmental policy in Germany and the USA - a comparison

Frankfurt - Germans swear by their environmental policy. Although the goal of achieving sustainable development has not yet been reached, Germany feels that it holds a very good position on the international scene. Susan RoseAckerman, Professor of Legal and Political Sciences at Yale University, has put a damper on this. In her new book, she highlights how Germany's environmental policy could be improved. Basing her conclusions on comparative investigations of environmental policy in the USA and Germany, she recognises that German policy sets high demands in terms of threshold values and environmental engineering demands, but criticises the structures and procedures on which environmental policy decisions in Germany are based.

In Germany as in the USA, central aspects of environ mental policy are not decided in parliament. The legislative frequently only sets vague formulae. Such important issues as how much dioxin may be allowed to escape from chimneys or whether nuclear power stations should be fitted with a double-cooling system for safety reasons, are not decisions taken by the legislative but by the executive. The government, ministers and other authorities issue the pertinent legal directives and regulations, and decisions are mostly based on expert opinions.

Rose-Ackerman says that this does not create the conditions for an objective and efficient environmental policy which is geared to dealing with conflicts. The outdated concept that regulative activities of the executive are of a technical administrative and not a political nature, hides the danger that important de cisions are taken behind closed doors. In this way, influential lobbies - for example industry and commerce - are able to get their way, whereas the interests of the environment and the general population are disregarded.

Rose-Ackerman assesses the US-American procedures as being more efficient. Standardisation work at federal level is carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which considers its regulative work to be that what it is: a political decision. Decisionmaking processes are, therefore, organised as openly and transparently as possible. EPA as sures that all interested parties are able to put forward their ideas.

A societal consensus cannot always be achieved but decisionmaking processes are tied as far as possible to rational arguments and the results are processed in a way everyone can understand.