BIG IDEAS Event Features UNU-IAS Director on Synergies for Sustainability

Prof. Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi spoke on the role of synergies in achieving a sustainable future in an online session.

On 7 February 2023, Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS) presented on the importance of synergies in achieving a sustainable future, as the featured speaker of the online UNU event series BIG IDEAS: SDGs Dialogue. The session engaged 86 participants and was moderated by Sawako Shirahase (Senior Vice-Rector, UNU).

Prof. Yamaguchi introduced UNU-IAS, explaining its mission to realise a sustainable future for people and our planet. She outlined the institute’s four thematic areas: governance for sustainable development, biodiversity & society, water & resource management, and innovation & education. UNU-IAS also has an operating unit in Kanazawa City (Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan) developing models for localising the SDGs, and offers master’s and doctoral degrees in sustainability science, and various innovative short courses.

The presentation highlighted UNU-IAS activities at UN conferences such as the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the Transforming Education Summit (TES), the Third Global Climate & SDGs Synergy Conference, and the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Shiekh, Egypt (UNFCCC COP27). Prof. Yamaguchi discussed how UNU-IAS was enhancing synergies through advancing interdisciplinary approaches for the SDGs, climate change, education, and beyond. She emphasised the growing importance of youth participation worldwide for realising a sustainable future, and reiterated her determination to proactively provide opportunities for learning and capacity development to youth.

As a practical attempt to realise this vision, she introduced a new postgraduate degree specialisation on the Paris Agreement on climate change, to be launched by UNU-IAS in September 2023. She explained four networks that UNU-IAS leads in a secretariat role, and spotlighted the UNU SDG–Universities Platform (SDG-UP), a partnership engaging 32 universities in Japan to strengthen collaborative efforts on the SDGs.

During discussion many questions were raised, mainly from participating students. In response to a question about the slow development of synergistic research in Japan, Prof. Yamaguchi noted the importance of both establishing solid expertise and collaborating with other fields in a cross-disciplinary and integrated way, applying a holistic perspective. She encouraged greater collaboration between diverse stakeholders, including companies.

At the end of the session, in response to the question "What is your BIG IDEA?” Prof. Yamaguchi answered that "I spent over 25 years overseas and I returned to Japan eventually, so my big idea is really to contribute and to work with the young generation in Japan and beyond. I really want to transmit what I have experienced and seen in my life”.

The video of the seminar (in Japanese) is available on the UNU YouTube channel.