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News from October 2010

Research, Testing, Analysis

UNU-ISP and Tokyo Industrial Research institute Sign Cooperation Agreement

Professor Takeuchi (left) and Dr. Kataoka at the signing ceremony. Photo: Jeremy Hedley/UNU

2010.10.29 • A memorandum concerning cooperation between the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Technology Research Institute (TIRI) was signed by Prof. Takeuchi, vice-rector of UNU and director of UNU-ISP and Dr. Kataoka, president of TIRI on 28 October 2010. In his opening address, Prof. Takeuchi expressed his gratitude to Dr. Kataoka as the expertise TIRI has accumulated in industrial technologies research to support local enterprises will be valuable to UNU.

In turn, Dr. Kataoka briefed attendees on TIRI's three areas of expertise: research; testing and analysis; and technical consultation in overall industrial technologies. He emphasized that quality control for industries is extremely important, and that TIRI can help to supply this function for smaller and medium enterprises that may not be able to develop them on their own. He added that TIRI will be able to learn from the extensive educational and research activities UNU carries throughout the world.

New actions and alliances

Erik Solheim Delivers 2010 Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture

Erik Solheim, Norway’s minister of the environment and international development, delivers the Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture 2010 at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo. Photo: Curtis Christophersen/UNU

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.

United Nations Day

Celebrating UN Day 2010

Smile! A photo montage of visitors to the UN Day 2010 events. Photos: Curtis Christophersen/UNU

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

President Álvaro Colom Cabelleros delivers his lecture at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo. Photo: Stephan Schmidt/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.

Mutually reinforcing in the long run

UNU Holds Governors’ Biodiversity Summits at COP10 in Nagoya

From left: Shinichi Ohmura, vice-governor of Shizuoka prefecture; Uichiro Taguchi, vice-governor of Shiga prefecture; Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the CBD; Masaaki Kanda, governor of Aichi prefecture; Kazuhiko Takeuchi, UNU vice-rector; Toshizo Ido, governor of Hyogo prefecture; Yoshiaki Nakanishi vice-governor of Ishikawa prefecture; and Akiko Domoto, former vice-president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Photo courtesy of Aichi Prefectural Govt.

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.

SEFI Selects UNU Rector Osterwalder as 2010 Leonardo da Vinci Medalist

From left: Prof. Borri (who presented the laudation), President Kolmos and Prof. Osterwalder. Photo courtesy of Prof. Francesco Maffioli/SEFI.

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.

Trends and Innovations in Governance

Two UNU Books Launched at UNESCO

On the panel at the book launch (from left): Sol Iglesias, Vesselin Popvski, Irina Bokova, Luk Van Langenhove, and Lidia Brito. Photo: UNESCO/Andrew Wheeler

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.


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