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Both UNU-ISP and TIRI desire to develop and promote international cooperation through research, training and capacity building in the area of sustainable development. There are three areas of particular concern: scholarly collaboration and mutual support for research and educational activities; mutual cooperation to prevent the deterioration of, and revive, the urban environment in light of the "10-Year Project for Green Tokyo" proposed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 2007; and aiming at a sustainable society where 'reduce’ 'reuse’ 'recycle’ and zero emissions concepts are promoted.
After the signing, Dr. Kataoka presented to Professor Takeuchi a beautifully designed product of a TIRI’s research: a cup made from 100% pure biomass molding compound and compact coated with Japanese lacquer.
New actions and alliances
Erik Solheim Delivers 2010 Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture
2010.10.29 • Erik Solheim, Norway’s minister of the environment and international development, delivered the 2010 Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo on Wednesday, 27 October 2010. UNU rector Konrad Osterwalder warmly welcomed Minister Solheim and thanked him for coming to UNU to deliver the lecture on the occasion of his visit to Japan. Mr. Solheim is attending the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya. In his opening remarks, Norwegian ambassador to Japan Arne Walther highlighted the accomplishments of Fridtjof Nansen, the prominent Norwegian statesman, humanitarian and explorer after whom this lecture series is named. Minister Solheim’s speech, entitled "Climate Change and Loss of Nature’s Diversity: New Actions and Alliances in Response to Key Global Challenges," called for a new commitment to international cooperation and compromise in today’s multipolar world.
Minister Solheim opened his lecture by noting many positive developments throughout the world such as recent increases in life expectancy, the spread of democracy, and the rise of a global middle class. However, the world also faces many challenges, such as the financial crisis, global poverty, and climate change. One country alone lacks the power and ability to address these matters unilaterally. As such, these issues demand a new global collective approach whereby individual states should work together to forge common positions.
Individual countries, however, can still have a positive impact. Minister Solheim stressed that a country like Norway has an important role to play in dealing with threats like climate change. The economic growth facilitated by Norway’s oil extraction allows the country to fund important overseas environmental projects. By supporting rainforest conservation programmes in Brazil and Indonesia, for example, Norway is able to use its economic strength to play a significant role in global conservation efforts. The challenge for the United Nations member states is to act collectively and not solely unilaterally.
Minister Solheim predicted that COP 16 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will serve in that regard, as a significant assessment of states’ abilities to compromise with each other. The ability to act unilaterally should not serve as a substitute to global cooperation. There are lessons to be learned from COP 15, which took place in Copenhagen in December 2009, where the world’s most powerful countries were somewhat reluctant to accept the need to compromise. Nevertheless, Minister Solheim hopes that we can find ways to reconcile our differences in order to achieve the universal and lasting goal of environmental preservation.
A video of Minister Solheim’s lecture, including the question and answer session that followed, can be viewed on UNU's video portal.
In a post-lecture video interview, Minister Solheim reflected on global environmental governance in our multipolar world and put forward the ability to compromise as a necessary step to achieve a legally-binding global climate deal, while stressing the benefits that unilateral and bilateral initiatives can provide until this materializes.
United Nations Day
Celebrating UN Day 2010
2010.10.23 • United Nations Day (UN Day) is observed annually worldwide on 24 October to commemorate the founding of the United Nations in October 1945. The theme for this year’s UN Day is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an initiative aimed at drastically reducing global poverty by 2015.
At the recent MDG Summit held in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a unified approach to addressing MDGs from all sectors of society by 2015. In light of this sentiment, on Friday, 22 October 2010, UN entities in Japan joined to host an event entitled "MDGs: What Have We Achieved, What Remains to Be Done?" at the UNU Headquarters Building in Tokyo. The event featured a panel discussion to highlight ways in which the MDG initiative has achieved meaningful progress in areas such as poverty reduction, food security and education, while also drawing attention to the significant challenges still faced. Public outdoor events were held during the day, including a farmers’ market, a live talk show, exhibitions, workshops and musical performances.
With five years to go before the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDG targets, we invite everyone to join us in celebrating UN Day by considering how we might contribute to this worthy effort.
Climate change and the Mayan vision
Guatemala President Colom Delivers Lecture at UNU
2010.10.22 • Álvaro Colom Caballeros, president of the Republic of Guatemala, delivered a public lecture at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday, 21 October. In his lecture, entitled "Climate Change and the Mayan Vision", President Colom explained how climate change has increased Guatemala's vulnerability to natural disasters such as droughts and severe storms. In response, the country has developed a holistic and innovative national climate change policy based on the Mayan worldview. The policy seeks to both adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change in pursuit of social and environmental welfare.
President Colom presented an optimistic vision of December's COP 16 climate summit in Cancún and for the development of human civilization in the next decades, drawing his message from the wisdom of the Mayan calendar (which will start over in 2012 and predicts a change towards a more anthropocentric civilization). From this perspective, climate change and the recent financial and energy crises are symptoms of a wider crisis of civilization requiring the restoration of values such as respect and discipline.
President Colom praised Japan's commitment to these values and its concrete achievements in emissions reduction and recycling. He also highlighted Guatemala's own achievements in education, specifically environmental education in schools and universities. In his view, governments have the responsibility to empower society to value and appreciate the role that the environment plays in our lives. The president concluded by expressing his hope that these lessons will provide guidance to the world as it begins to deal with the emerging consequences of climate change.
A video of President Colom's lecture, including the question and answer session that followed, can be viewed on UNU's video portal.
Mutually reinforcing in the long run
UNU Holds Governors’ Biodiversity Summits at COP10 in Nagoya
2010.10.22 • Two governors’ summits focusing on the socio-ecological systems known as satoyama (terrestrial) and satoumi (coastal) landscapes were convened on October 19 and 20 in Nagoya by the United Nations University (UNU), the Global Environment Outreach Center (GEOC) and the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOE).
The summits showcased policy initiatives undertaken by prefectural governments in Japan to link the maintenance and rebuilding of satoyama and satoumi landscapes with biodiversity conservation and sustainable use to revitalize local communities. Following the launch of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative earlier on 19 October, the summits were also intended to advance dialogue on the crucial role that regional-level initiatives focusing on biodiversity in human-influenced ecosystems can play in the implementation of the CBD. The events were intended as a first step towards the development of regional networks around biodiversity issues, providing the missing link between existing mechanisms for concerted action at the local and international levels.
Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the CBD, attended both summits and expressed his appreciation for Japan’s policy-making initiatives focusing on satoyama and satoumi landscapes, which approach development and the environment not only as compatible but also as mutually reinforcing in the long run.
The Biodiversity Governors’ Summit on 19 October, a public forum organized in the heart of Nagoya City, was attended by approximately 300 people. Following the keynote speech by Kazuhiko Takeuchi, vice-rector of UNU, lectures by the vice-governor of Ishikawa Prefecture, Yoshiaki Nakanishi, the governor of Hyogo Prefecture, Toshizo Ido, the vice-governor of Shiga Prefecture, Uichiro Taguchi, the vice-governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, Shinichi Ohmura and the governor of Aichi Prefecture, Masaaki Kanda, introduced approaches, strategies and case studies related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of satoyama resources in their prefectures.
The governors’ presentations were followed by a panel discussion led by Kazuhiko Takeuchi, which brought together the participating governors and vice-governors with Atsuko Domoto, former vice-president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Tsunao Watanabe, deputy director-general of the Nature Conservation Bureau of the MOE, and Anne McDonald, director of the UNU-Institute of Advanced Studies Operating Unit Ishikawa/Kanazawa.
The Satoyama Governors’ Summit on 20 October, a CBD/COP 10 side event, presented biodiversity-focused policies and initiatives by Japan’s prefectural governments to the international audiences assembled at COP 10, through lectures by the governor of Ishikawa Prefecture, Masanori Tanimoto, and the vice-governor of Aichi Prefecture, Etsuo Ogawa. The governors’ lectures were commented upon by Akiko Domoto, Tsunao Watanabe and Anne McDonald.
Concluding the side event, Anne McDonald announced that a Governors’ Summit message was being drafted and would be submitted to the CBD Secretariat together with case studies from each participating prefecture.
SEFI Selects UNU Rector Osterwalder as 2010 Leonardo da Vinci Medalist
2010.10.07 • The European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI), founded in 1973, is the largest European network of higher engineering institutions and individuals involved in engineering education. The SEFI mission is to contribute to the development and improvement of engineering education in Europe.
The Leonardo da Vinci Medal, instituted in 1983, is the highest distinction that SEFI bestows. It is awarded to living persons who have made an outstanding contribution of international significance to engineering education.
On 21 September, in a ceremony at the Joint International IGIP-SEFI Annual Conference in Trnava, Slovakia, UNU Rector Konrad Osterwalder was presented with the 2010 Leonardo da Vinci Medal.
The award recognizes both his research, his teaching and his leadership roles (including assistant and associate professor for mathematical physics at Harvard University; professor for mathematical physics at ETH Zurich; rector of ETH; member and chair of university councils in Switzerland, Germany, France and Italy; and rector of UNU).
Trends and Innovations in Governance
Two UNU Books Launched at UNESCO
2010.10.04 • UNU’s Office in Paris (UNU-OP) and UNESCO held an event to launch the UNU Press books Engaging Civil Society: Emerging Trends in Democratic Governance and Building Trust in Government: Innovations in Governance Reform in Asia. These books, part of the "Trends and Innovations in Governance" series, result from collaborative research conducted by the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) and the East-West Center, University of Hawaii.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the event and acknowledged the contribution of the two books to the essential debate on the kind of governance necessary to ensure globalization is more just, democratic and inclusive. Ms. Bokova reaffirmed the importance of collaboration between UNU and UNESCO as natural partners in building bridges between academia, policy makers, civil society and the private sector. She stressed the importance of the creation of UNU-UNESCO Chairs worldwide to serve this purpose. Ms. Bokova congratulated UNU for its advanced policy relevant research and for developing post-graduate degree programmes.
The two UNU books were introduced by Vesselin Popovski, their co-editor and Head of the Peace and Security Section of UNU-ISP. Other speakers included Luk Van Langenhove, Representative of UNU-OP; Lidia Brito, Director of the Division of Science Policy and Sustainable Development, UNESCO; and Sol Iglesias, Director of the Asia Europe Foundation, Singapore.
Contributors to the book series "Trends and Innovations in Governance" include leading scholars on governance, political science and Asia studies. Engaging Civil Society examines the changing roles of civil society in global and national governance, and identifies factors that influence the effectiveness of civil society in promoting democratic governance. Building Trust in Government examines the sources and elements of trust in government, discusses factors that lead to decline or growth of trust, and presents ways to reform the policy process to ensure that governance is truly representative and participatory.
The series will continue with a third title, Cross-Border Governance in Asia: Regional Issues and Mechanisms.
Page last modified 2011.06.07.
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