Brief report : 5th International Forum on Sustainable Future in Asia / 5th NIES International Forum

Group photo


The National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) has annually convened “International Forum on Sustainable Future in Asia / NIES International Forum” since FY2015 in collaboration with the University of Tokyo, the Asian Institute of Technology and other Asian research organizations. Through the forum, we are seeking to promote discussions on a sustainable future in Asia, and to further develop and enhance research networks among research organizations in Asia.

5th International Forum on Sustainable Future in Asia / 5th NIES International Forum was convened on January 21 to 22, 2020 in Yangon, Myanmar, co-organized by Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo (IFI, UTokyo), Regional Resoures Center for Asia and the Pacific, Asian Institute of Technology (RRC. AP, AIT), and University of Medicine 1, Yangon (UM1), under the theme of “Fostering a Healthy and Sustainable Environment to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. Around one hundred sixty attendees from 33 Asian research organizations actively participated in discussions from a wide range of perspectives. Participants from the host country Myanmar included representatives of the Ministry of Health and Sports and other governmental organizations as well as the rectors and researchers from 20 universities and research institutes.

Efforts by the international community towards sustainable societies are now accelerating, and for Myanmaer, host country, addressing the health effects of various substances in the environment, responding to climate change, and initiatives to fulfill the SDGs are important issues. Considering these background, 5th forum focused on three topics; “Current Environmental Issues, Health Problems, and Research Challenges in Asian Countries”, “Synergetic Strategies for SDGs on Combating Climate Change and Protecting Healthy Ecosystems” and “Integrative Approach for Strategic Design toward SDGs in Asia”.

Session summaries

Opening remarks were delivered by the representatives of the Ministry of Health and Sports of Myanmar, NIES and co-organizers. The speakers celebrated the opening of the conference, and addressed the significance of convening the forum in Myanmar and their expectations for the discussions during the two days.

Prof. Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, Rector of UM1 made a keynote speech on “Stepping Forward for the Future Generation: Creation of Research Network on Environmental Health Effects”. Prof. Shinichiro Ogaki, former President of NIES, followed with his keynote speech “How Should We Design Our Sustainable Environment in an Uncertain World?”. A scheduled keynote speech “Advancing Policy-relevant Research for Achieving the SDGs” by Prof. Kazuhiko Takemoto (Visiting Professor of United Nations Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability and President of OECC) was cancelled for work related reasons. He kindly shared his presentation materials with the participants.

Opening address by Prof. Dr. Thet Khaing Win, Permanet Secreatary, Ministry of Health and Sports of Myanmar
Keynote Speech by Prof. Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, Rector of University of Medicine 1, Yangon
Keynote speech by Prof. Shinichiro Ohgaki, former NIES President

Presentations in Session 1 “Current Environmental Issues, Health Problems, and Research Challenges in Asian Countries” addressed ensuring healthy lives and welfare for future generations, air quality assessment, marine litter and microplastics, water quality, and other issues that Asia is currently facing. It was confirmed that science-based imagination was essential and the importance of cooperation with specialists from other fields and stakeholders was stressed.

Presentations in Session 2 “Beyond Win-Win: Synergetic Strategies for Sustainable Development Goals on Combating Climate Change and Protecting Healthy Ecosystems” introduced examples from Japan, Mongolia, and Myanmar of synergetic strategies for achieving the SDGs under the impact of climate change and for sustainable practices and mitigation measures. Also, education of the next generation was identified as one of the most effective and fair investments for our future.

Presentations in Session 3 “Integrative Approach for Strategic Design toward Sustainable Development Goals in Asia” discussed the scientific platform and integrated policy making process for addressing resilience in the face of rapidly growing risks of climate change as well as efficient and sustainable methods for urban and industrial transition.

At the end of the forum, NIES and co-organizers released a joint statement that called for discussions to drive strengthening of research collaborations to solve future environmental problems in the Asia-Pacific region and expressed intentions to move research forward while further strengthening networking.

Poster session

Fifty-four presentations in the poster session from research organizations from Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar, and other Asian countries introduced research results from a wide range of fields, such as Heavy Metals, Air Pollution, Plastics, Pesticides and Agriculture, Water and the Ecosystem, Occupational Hazards, and Sustainability and SDGs. Awards were given to the 6 posters below receiving the most votes from participants.
The details of posters are available at

  • Social Behavior and Related Gene Expression Changes in F2 Male Mice born to Gestationally Arsenite Exposed F1 Mice
    Soe Minn Htway, University of Medicine-Magway, Magway, Myanmar
  • Evaluation of Indoor Concentration and Personal exposure of Formaldehyde in Anatomy Dissection Rooms, University of Medicine 1, Yangon
    Win Yu Aung, University of Medicine 1, Yangon, Myanmar
  • Indoor PM2.5 and PM10 Concentrations in Teaching Rooms and Recreation Areas, University of Medicine 1, Yangon
    EiEiPan Nu Yi, University of Medicine 1, Yangon, Myanmar
  • DNA methylation changes in cord blood of pregnant woman in the area of high PM2.5 concentration in Myanmar
    Takehiro Suzuki, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Road Dusts Collected from Myanmar, Japan and Taiwan and Their Exposure Risks in Human
    Ei Ei Mon, Kumamoto University, Japan
  • Prevalence of Plasmid-mediated Colistin Resistance Gene mcr-1 in Domestic Wastewater
    Vu Thi My Hanh, Vietnam Japan University, Vietnam
Poster Award Winners

Related event : Public talk

On January 23, NIES and UM1 jointly organized a symposium as a related event. The symposium “Public Talk – Recent environmental issues faced in Asian countries” was convened with presentations on topics of high interest in Myanmar, such as disaster prevention, urban resilience, and management of air pollution. The 80 attendees at the Public Talk were mainly young researchers from Myanmar’s universities and research organizations.

For the Future

The International Forum for Sustaiable Future in Asia/NIES International Forum has been organied annually since FY2015 in Thailand, Indoensia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar respectively. With the expansion of topics discussed and the increase of the number of hosting countries and collaborating institutes, multidisciplinary research network in Asia has steadily been expanded and strengthened.
We will further enhance the collaboration framework establised through the past forums so that the outcome of each discussion will lead to new ideas and further actions for problem solving. We sincerely hope that we will explore the frontier in global environmental research with the collaboratiing institutes.

Photos by Seiji Narita (Public Relations Office, Planning Department)