On 19 September 2013, the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP), The University of Tokyo’s Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S) and UNESCO co-hosted a joint symposium on “Promoting Integration and Cooperation through Sustainability Science”.
The symposium, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, brought together representatives from key institutes and UNESCO member states, as well as scholars and policymakers, to discuss the state of the art of sustainability science — an emerging approach that emphasizes solution-oriented, interdisciplinary scholarship and provides tools, methodology and a sound basis to integrate knowledge from social and natural sciences into policies, strategies and plans.
(For the symposium programme and biographies of the participants mentioned below, see UNU/IR3S/UNESCO Joint Symposium on the UNU-ISP website.)
In the opening session, introductory speakers introduced the latest advances in sustainability science, highlighting the Future Earth initiative and UNESCO’s programmes focusing on water, ocean and ecological sciences, as well as social and human sciences.
These remarks were followed by keynote lectures from Prof. Mohamed Hassan (who talked about future strategies for sustainability to address two interrelated infrastructure challenges — increasing investments in green technology infrastructure, and improving institutional and educational infrastructure to ensure adequate numbers of innovative and problem-solving sustainability scientists), Prof. Makoto Usami (who emphasized the need for research on fundamental knowledge in addition to the comprehensive integration of disciplines), Prof. Carl Folke (who addressed the opportunities and challenges for humanity in a new biosphere terrain, and highlighted knowledge-generation and resilience thinking for persistence, adaptability and transformability), and Prof. Shankar Sastry (who stressed the urgent need for a multi-pronged, cooperative international approach for transforming our energy systems from low efficiency and high carbon usage to high efficiency and low carbon usage).
Next came a panel discussion, chaired by Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, on the theme of “Addressing Interconnected Global Challenges and Demands for Sustainability Science”. Panellists included Dr. Pablo Gentili (who focused on the role of social science for creative and innovative public policymaking, and combining development and social justice, human rights and equality for overall well-being), Dr.Lutz Möller (who shared a German perspective on re-focusing research and monitoring of biosphere reserves for co-design and co-production), Dr. Rudy Herman (who presented his ideas in the domain of ocean sciences and services about the need for innovative capacity building, intergovernmental collaboration, strengthening of knowledge transfer and encouragement of networking) and Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi (who highlighted the changing landscape of sustainability science in the past five years and efforts to enhance knowledge innovation in developing countries).
The session was wrapped by Dr. Anantha Kumar Duraiappah (speaking on the topic of inclusive wealth) and Dr. Lidia Brito (advising on effective structures for science–policy interface).
The symposium’s second session, moderated by Prof. Kazuhiko Takemoto, featured a panel discussion on “Institutional Challenges and Opportunities for Integrating Sectoral and Disciplinary Activities”. Panellists included Dr. Alexander Leicht (who spoke about how sustainability science and education for sustainable development reinforce each other by overcoming fragmentation of knowledge though inter-/trans-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approaches), Dr. Francesca Farioli (who shared ideas on enhancing networks and collective action for transformational change), Prof. Des Gasper (who, via a video link, advocated for responsible science in order to make knowledge “response-able” and highlighted the need for real-world teaching and epistemological literacy), and Dr. Yuto Kitamura (who placed emphasis on international cooperation for higher education in Asia for sustainable development).
The symposium concluded with closing remarks from Prof. Takeuchi and a note of thanks from Dr. Salvatore Arico.
For more information, see the Symposium Report on the UNU-ISP website.