The Third International Conference on Sustainability Science (ICSS), held in Tempe, Arizona, from 21 to 23 February, was co-organized by UNU. This year′ conference, aimed at finding sustainability solutions that define the conduct of the science, employed a new approach of examining innovative case studies through in-depth engagement that provides a framework through which to examine state-of-the-art sustainability science practices.
On the opening day of the conference, UNU Vice-Rector Kazuhiko Takeuchi gave an extensive lecture on the first case study: “The Role of Sustainability Science in Rebuilding from the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake”. His lecture addressed a number of issues, including the reconstruction efforts and sustainability challenges in building social resilience in Eastern Japan, and the potential involvement of new stakeholders with new capital for investment in restoring the damaged areas.
During the three days of events, other important case studies were presented with an emphasis on emergent accomplishments and challenges in the field of sustainability science. The second major case that participants were introduced to was the “Competence Platform on Energy Crop and Agroforestry Systems for Arid and Semi-arid Ecosystems in Africa” (COMPETE) project. COMPETE explores the use of biofuel solution options to address interrelated sustainability problems such as limited access to energy sources, low standards of living and a lack of livelihood opportunities in rural Africa.
The third case study focused on “Precautionary Purchasing in San Francisco”, which has involved the introduction of effective legislation in addressing the carcinogenic effect of toxic chemicals leached into the environment from a variety of human activities.
On the final day of the conference, Prof. Takeuchi led the formal launch of the International Society for Sustainability Science (ISSS), a platform for international knowledge-sharing and promoting integration and cooperation among academic fields within sustainability science. ISSS aims to overcome the limitation of traditional fragmented academic disciplines in addressing the pre-eminent issues of the 21st century.
In his address, Prof. Takeuchi reiterated the importance of preparing the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, government and society with the capacity to promote sustainability science across the globe.
The co-founding universities (Arizona State University (USA), Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), University of Tokyo (Japan) and UNU), which are pioneers in sustainability science education, shall form ISSS’s steering committee, with the University of Tokyo hosting the administrative headquarters. The establishment of ISSS is the third in a series of steps taken by the founding universities to build impetus for long-term academic commitment to sustainability science. Membership in ISSS is open to research institutions and universities across the globe.
Members of ISSS pledged to continue their efforts to advance the purpose, domain, conduct and methodologies needed in sustainability science as they await to reconvene at the Fourth International Conference on Sustainability Science, to be held in 2013 in Marseilles, France.
For more information, please visit the ICSS ICSS 2012 website.