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Launch of the New Reorganized Japan Hub Publicly Announced

The inaugural meeting and symposium of the new Future Earth Global Secretariat Hub Japan was held on 20 October, 2021, with more than 100 participants from government agencies, universities and research institutes, corporations, and civic organizations. The new Global Secretariat Hub Japan is the result of the merger of the former Global Hub Japan and Regional Centre for Asia. The following 12 organizations are cooperating as co-applicants in the establishment of the new Japan Hub: Science Council of Japan; Research Institute for Humanity and Nature; National Institute for Environmental Studies; Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo; Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan; Keio Research Institute at SFC; AEON Environmental Foundation; Kao Corporation; Remote Sensing Technology Center; Saraya Corporation; Hokkaido University and Nagasaki University.

The inaugural meeting was opened with the launch declaration and congratulatory remarks by Prof. Makoto Taniguchi of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, representing the co-applicant organizations of the new Japan Hub and the Hub Board. He expressed his expectation that the Future Earth Japan Committee, Future Earth-related committees of the Science Council of Japan, and the new Japan Hub will continue to work together to strongly promote Future Earth in Japan.

Following that, Fumiko Kasuga, Hein Mallee, Giles B. Sioen and Ria Lambino introduced Future Earth activities from global to local levels, alongside its new governance structure and the evolved Global Secretariat. They expressed their aspirations to offer stronger and more efficient secretariat functions by leveraging  the strengths of the Japan Hub such as close collaboration with the Science Council of Japan and Future Earth Japan Committee, cooperation with the private sector, network in the Asia region and global work.

Next, Prof. Tetsuzo Yasunari, Chair of the Future Earth Japan Committee, introduced the 40 diverse organizations that are members of the Japan Committee and the recent leadership renewal of the Committee. He stated that in order to achieve the SDGs, it is important to understand each of the goals in an integrated manner, and that Future Earth is an excellent framework to promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research for this purpose.

Following that, five member institutions of the Japan Committee reported on powerful examples of sustainability research and co-design from the standpoints of universities, companies, and NPOs.

Specifically, Prof. Taro Yamauchi of Hokkaido University and Prof. Kazuhiko Moji of Nagasaki University made presentations on the progress of their respective universities’ organizational arrangements for promoting sustainability science in a more interdisciplinary manner and in collaboration with society. Hokkaido University and Nagasaki University have set the contribution to SDGs achievement and planetary health as the core vision of the respective universities.

Ms. Yuriko Yamamoto, Executive Director of the AEON Environmental Foundation, whose parent company is one of Japan’s largest retailers, introduced the “AEON Future Earth Forum,” which has been held five times in cooperation with Future Earth and The University of Tokyo, focusing on one KAN theme each year. She emphasized that the Foundation will continue to engage with environmental issues by taking advantage of its strength as a large-scale retailer, namely its ties with local people.

Then, Ms. Eriko Nitta, Secretary General of Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs, introduced the organization, which consists of 140 civil society organizations working for the achievement of the SDGs in various fields such as poverty, environment, global health, and disaster prevention and mitigation, and its main activity is to link citizens’ voices to policy proposals in diverse fields. Lastly, Dr. Miki Nagashima, Director of Malaria No More Japan, introduced that the organization aims not only to eradicate malaria, but also to address issues such as climate change, global health and agriculture, using malaria as a keyword, in a cross-sectoral manner and with various stakeholders. Both NPOs stated that their activities are similar to those of Future Earth in that they focus on cross-sectoral and policy advocacy, and that they would like to promote collaboration with researchers in the Future Earth community.

Dr. Seita Emori, Deputy Director of the Earth System Division at the National Institute for Environmental Studies, concluded the meeting by stating that global environmental problems cannot be solved by science alone, but require collaboration between society and academia, and that he hoped that the inauguration of the new Japan Hub will serve as a catalyst for more diverse actors to help transform society towards a sustainable direction.

The inaugural symposium can be viewed here.