A symposium at UNU-IAS on 2 October 2014 brought together leading researchers and practitioners from the field of sustainability governance. The event, Integrating Sustainability into the Post-2015 Development Agenda, featured a keynote speech by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) as well as Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General.
The event was jointly organized by UNU-IAS and Millennium Promise Japan (MPJ), and supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
In his speech Prof. Sachs emphasized the enormous social and environmental challenges facing humanity, calling for a sustainable technology revolution. He assessed the current state of the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, noting that to be successful we will need a new form of global governance that is centered around common and tangible goals, combined with the support of a broad global sustainability movement.
The event then explored a range of different perspectives on issues of sustainability and governance related to the post-2015 development agenda, through a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Kazuhiko Takemoto (Director, UNU- IAS).
Prof. Mitsugi Endo of The University of Tokyo, a leading expert on development policy in Africa, acknowledged the success of the Millennium Development Goals in poverty reduction and girls’ education. He cautioned, however, that these achievements are far from secure, given the huge challenges of population growth and climate change.
Mr. Surendra Shrestha (Director, UN Environment Programme International Environmental Technology Center) stressed the need to think out of the box to find new solutions to the challenges of sustainable development. He proposed several possibilities, including reducing the time horizons of targets to better fit the short-term perspectives of politicians. He also stressed that we should learn from traditional environmental knowledge during the design and implementation of local targets.
Prof. Norichika Kanie (Associate Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Senior Research Fellow, UNU-IAS) introduced his research on governance and the post-2015 development agenda, and highlighted the need for interconnected thinking in developing and implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr. Ryutaro Yatsu (Senior Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, Japan) considered future research needs related to sustainable development, suggesting that three of the most important topics will likely be water, cities and sustainable consumption and production.
After a lively discussion with members of the audience, Prof. Sachs concluded the panel with the warning that the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris must not fail, as there was no realistic backup plan.
In closing the symposium, Prof. Shinichi Kitaoka (President, MPJ) emphasized the responsibility of Japan in the world, and the need for peace as the basic foundation of development.