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Juha I. Uitto

The United Nations University is an autonomous academic organization under the United Nations umbrella, with headquarters in Tokyo. According to its charter, the University's mandate is to carry out research, postgraduate education, and dissemination of knowledge related to the pressing global problems facing mankind. It has also a specific mandate towards capacity building in the developing countries to assist them in dealing with the questions of development. An international community of scholars, the United Nations University works through networks of scientists from each of the world's continents. These networks serve to focus the issues to be researched and to bring together the brightest minds to cooperate in finding solutions to the international problems.

The purpose of the UNU Global Environmental Forum series is to disseminate research results on issues pertaining to global environmental change to a broader public. Since the beginning of the series in 1991, the Fora have covered a wide variety of issues. The first one, entitled "Monitoring and Action for the Earth," was concerned with new technologies for monitoring and observation of the changes occurring in the terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The second Forum, in 1993, focused on environmental change affecting rainforests and drylands in South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Chinese drylands. The third Forum's title was posed in the form of a question: "Will Tropical Forests Change in a Global Greenhouse?" It examined the complex and multi-faceted interlinkages between global warming and the sustainability of tropical rainforest ecosystems and their biological diversity.

The fourth UNU Global Environmental Forum took place in Osaka, Japan, on 25 May 1995. Its theme was "Population, Land Management, and Environmental Change." The Forum focused on the research carried out under the University's international collaborative research programme with the same title. This publication reproduces the papers presented at the Forum in an edited form. The first three papers set the objectives of the research programme (Harold Brookfield) and outline some of the underlying key concepts, including farmers' participation (Michael Stocking) and the role of women (Janet Momsen). The following four chapters highlight preliminary results from the research undertaken within the field research clusters of the programme in Papua New Guinea (Graham Sem and Ryutaro Ohtsuka), northern Thailand (Kanok Rerkasem), and the Amazon (Christine Padoch). The final chapter by Shunji Murai presents a different perspective to the population carrying capacity at the global level.

The Forum was organized jointly with the International Environmental Technology Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/ IETC), and in cooperation with the Global Environmental Centre Foundation. The Forum, as well as all the earlier ones, was sponsored by Obayashi Corporation.

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