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Table 5 Explanation of feedback loops from city-city collaboration shown in Fig. 3. Internal success attracted the attention of other cities in the region

From: Positive inertia and proactive influencing towards sustainability: systems analysis of a frontrunner city

R1 Engagement2–3Increased international recognition of Kitakyushu as an environmental frontrunner has seen requests from other cities and from the national level to be involved in collaborative sustainability initiatives. Kitakyushu initially leveraged its increased reputation to establish linkages with other cities for collaboration. These proactive networking activities, such as the Kitakyushu Initiative, have in turn increased international recognition.
R2 Spread of innovation4–5 – 6City-to-city collaboration has generated new environmental initiatives in new contexts. For example, the composting initiative in Surabaya led to a new locally appropriate method of composting. In Haiphong, experiments in U-BCF filtration technology led to Haiphong purchasing the Kitakyushu technology. Further experiments with it are underway in other parts of Vietnam. This collaboration has brought socio-economic benefits to these cities, such as reduction of waste and lower cost, lower-energy water-filtration methods respectively. As collaboration initiatives increased, networks were strengthened.
R3 New markets2–7 – 8 – 9City-to-city collaboration initiatives have increased business opportunities for Kitakyushu businesses. For example, both Haiphong and Surabaya local governments have introduced ideal business counterparts to Kitakyushu businesses based on a two-way dynamic motivation (capacity building and economic). It is especially difficult for SMEs to take environmental products or services abroad. Thus, Kitakyushu’s strategy, of tapping into new markets in developing Asia for environmental solutions, benefits SMEs. The number of local government officials dedicated to environmental industry development and international cooperation has increased. For example, the establishment in 2010 of the local government’s Asian Centre for Low-Carbon Society, as well as the Kitakyushu Overseas Water Business Association. The national government is providing a 50% subsidy to overseas low-carbon ventures under the Joint Crediting Mechanism, which Kitakyushu is leveraging to foster international collaborations. Its activity has garnered it even more international recognition.
R4 Partnership1–2 – 7 – 10 – 11The success of Kitakyushu’s approach has increased international recognition through various international awards and especially following the OECD 2011 selection of Kitakyushu as a model city of Green Growth. Visits by world leaders have also raised the city’s profile. China’s president Xi Jinping described Kitakyushu as a “successful model of environmental protection” (2009). Thus increasing collaboration and business opportunities have provided an incentive for both local government and businesses to work together. While the domestic market is shrinking, there is high demand for environmental solutions, such as pollution control, recycling business, etc. in developing Asian markets. Kitakyushu local government strategy is to reinvigorate the local economy through helping its environmental SMEs to expand overseas and be more involved in collaborative experiments. The incentive to build up existing linkages between local government and business, and to work together, is contributing to the success of Kitakyushu’s approach by aligning mutual interests to a common goal.
R5 R&D1–2 – 7 – 12 – 13As business opportunities increased by new networks through city-city collaboration, and as environmental initiatives have been utilised to form joint ventures and to create market access, there was incentive for continued research and development. For example, Kitakyushu Science Research Park and Water Plaza have engaged in commercial R&D experimentation with technologies aimed at meeting the needs of other cities. The Kitakyushu Urban Centre of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies has also contributed research on policy strategies that could be applied elsewhere. These experimental hubs contribute to Kitakyushu’s approach by acting as both centres of research and innovation that can act as showrooms for other cities to visit.