On Monday, 10 October 2011, the UNU Institute for Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) launched its new postgraduate programme in biodiversity with an official inauguration ceremony held at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo.
With increasing international attention on environmental governance and biodiversity, there is a clear and growing demand for biodiversity experts at local, regional and global levels. The UNU-IAS Master of Science (M.Sc.) Programme in Environmental Governance – Specialization in Biodiversity aims to meet this demand by training qualified biodiversity management specialists, especially from developing countries, with policy-oriented, interdisciplinary knowledge.
The M.Sc. is offered in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), which will support the programme by providing course materials, curriculum guidance and access to its experts. It draws on the long-standing reputation of UNU-IAS for excellence in policy-oriented research for sustainable development.
“The loss of biological diversity is a critical issue we face today, and UNU-IAS recognizes its mandate, as an academic institution and UN think-tank with strengths in biodiversity and sustainable development, to play a key role in this global challenge. We also hope that our master’s degree programme will contribute to the implementation of the CBD at different levels, from the global to the local”, said UNU Vice-Rector and Director of UNU-IAS, Professor Govindan Parayil.
This year, twelve students are participating in the programme, from a mix of developed and developing countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas. UNU faculty members, representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Ministry of Environment (MOE), and members of the international community joined the M.Sc. students during the inauguration ceremony.
The highlight of the ceremony was a keynote presentation by Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, on “The Aichi Biodiversity Targets: the Embryo of New Biodiversity Governance”.
The ceremony was preceded by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the CBD Executive Secretary and Prof. Parayil, in the presence of UNU Rector Konrad Osterwalder.
The MOU aims to advance cooperation between UNU-IAS and the SCBD on capacity development aspects of the Convention on Biological Diversity: UNU- IAS will support implementation of the Convention and the Convention Secretariat will collaborate in the management of the new M.Sc. programme. The agreement also aims to promote exchange of staff and provide internships to postgraduate students in the Secretariat.
Rector Osterwalder said: “As an academic institution within the United Nations system, UN University needs to contribute directly to the work of our sister institutions in the United Nations. UNU-IAS and SCBD have been partners on many projects and initiatives, and the MOU they signed today will cement their strong partnership, which now includes this master’s degree programme.”
About the M.Sc. in Environmental Governance – Biodiversity specialization
The Master of Science in Environmental Governance – Specialization in Biodiversity, offered in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), draws upon the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies’ history of close collaboration with SCBD. The M.Sc. programme provides students with the intellectual foundation and practical field experience necessary for understanding environmental governance regimes. Graduates of the programme will receive a Master of Science degree from the United Nations University and will be equipped with the skills necessary to forge new frontiers as researchers and practitioners with an interdisciplinary and systemic understanding of biodiversity, ecosystems and sustainable development. Graduates of the programme will go on to careers in multilateral international agencies, academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations and other professions in the field of biodiversity.