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Japan, Partners Launch Research toward Post-2015 Development Agenda

Project ond Sustainability27 July 2013: A sustainability research initiative, the Project on Sustainability Transformation Beyond 2015, held a launch workshop with partners in Yokohama, Japan, supported by the Ministries of Environment, Education, and Foreign Affairs, from 25-27 July 2013.

Workshop participants presented on, among other issues: the constraints to biomass resource use; obesity as a health issue; “water literacy” in education for sustainable development; poverty and inequality; and sustainability as a balance between considerations of efficiency and resilience. They discussed education as both a goal and a means to sustainable development, and highlighted the recent issue brief on 'Advancing Education as a Goal for Sustainable Development' from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Japan.

Project leader Norichika Kanie, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, highlighted a revised definition of sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present while safeguarding the Earth's life-support system, on which the welfare of current and future generations depends.”

Surendra Shrestha, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), outlined challenges in establishing the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and suggested that making the shift to sustainability will require new societal “stories” to reinforce new social norms.

Tongdong Bai, Fudan University, China, presented reflections on sustainable development from the perspective of traditional Chinese philosophy. Several participants called for the project to contribute a regional or Asian perspective to the SDG discussions.

David Griggs, Monash Sustainability Institute, Australia, proposed that sustainable development can be seen as a set of nested concepts, with the environment surrounding and supporting the social and economic dimensions.

Japan's Ministry of Environment is providing around ¥200 million annually to the project, which is known as S-11. S-11 is conducted through partnerships among several institutions besides the Government of Japan ministries, including: IGES; the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Canada; the Tokyo Institute of Technology; the UN University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS); and several Japanese universities. Over its multi-year span, S-11 aims to: contribute to establishing the post-2015 development agenda; promote trans-disciplinary research; strengthen collaboration between development researchers and environment researchers; and spark broad societal debate about sustainability transformation. [S-11 Website] [IGES 'Researchers' Viewpoint' Blog post] [IGES Issue Brief][IISD RS Sources]