Event report : 7th International Forum on Sustainable Future in Asia / 7th NIES International Forum


The National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) has been organizing NIES International Forum annually since 2015 with the aim of strengthening of cooperation with institutions in the Asian region and facilitating discussions on a sustainable future.

In the wake of COVID-19, 7th International Forum on Sustainable Future in Asia / 7th NIES International Forum was held online as last year, from January 20 to 21, 2022.

This year’s forum was dedicated to the theme of "Research for Societal Transformation with Future Earth" under the auspices of Future Earth, and facilitated by Dr. Fumiko Kasuga, NIES Senior Fellow and Director of the Future Earth International Headquarters Japan Hub. And, Dr. Giles Sioen, Research Associate, Research Collaboration Division, also a member of the Future Earth International Headquarters Japan Hub, served as the general moderator.

The forum was co-organized by the Institute for Future Initiatives at The University of Tokyo (IFI, UTokyo) and the Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT RRC.AP) as in the past forum, and especially this year, the Nagasaki University and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), which have supported Future Earth activities both in Japan and overseas, and have been promoting cooperation with NIES in the field of planetary health, were appointed as the Special Co-organizers.

(Day1) Open Symposium

The first day of the forum featured an open symposium with a diverse program including keynote speeches, flash talks by young researchers from Asian countries including Dr. Shinichiro Asayama (Senior Researcher, NIES) and panel discussions under the generous support of the Nagasaki University.

Keynote speeches were given by invited prominent researchers belonging to the Nagasaki University, IIASA, and IASS. The event was a great opportunity to discuss issues related to the Environmental Issues: Nuclear Weapons, Environmental Valuation, and Systemic Risks. The panel discussion brought a borderless discussion from the perspective of "Science and Society”, was facilitated by Dr. Seita Emori (Deputy Director of Earth System Division, NIES) and in addition to the keynote speakers, panelists included Dr. Yasuko Kameyama (Director of Social Systems Division, NIES), Prof. Akimasa Sumi (Project Professor of IFI, UTokyo), and panelists from the Asian Institute of Technology.

Keynote Speech3
Panel Discussion

(Day2) Expert Sessions

Expert sessions focused on three topics of Future Earth-supported activities: Valuing Environment, Decarbonization, and Systemic Risks, each chaired by the Nagasaki University, NIES and RIHN.

In Session2 (Decarbonization), moderated by NIES and organized by Dr. Giles Sioen and Dr. Hiroshi Tanimoto, Head of Global Atmospheric Chemistry Section, featured talks and discussions on the topic of Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050 in a complex world with stakeholders. Dr. Yasuko Kameyama chaired the session, which was followed by Dr. Tatsuya Hanaoka and Dr. Tomoko Shirai from NIES, as well as Dr. Jian Kejun from China and Prof. Rizaldi Boer from Indonesia, who are involved in Asia-Pacific Integrated Model (AIM) project, which is being promoted by NIES.
Throughout the session, they discussed the ambitious attempts of governments in Indonesia, China, Japan, Asia, and the world to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and it became clear that the reductions needed globally are comparable to the total emissions of Asia, and that there is still an emissions gap in the national contributions.
The role of Energy efficiency improvements due to progress (industry, appliances, transportation, etc.), land use and forestry efficiency (rehabilitation, conservation, behavior, etc.) was presented.
For example electrification of the transportation sector reduces local emissions, but as long as much of Asia's electricity production is coal, the region's toxic emissions, so care should be taken.
Furthermore, incremental change alone is not sufficient; continuous monitoring and information sharing with diverse stakeholders is required. It was also suggested that transformative decisions based on data (Global Carbon Project and Integrated Assessment Model) and considering co-benefits and trade-offs can be made with key stakeholders, including the social and business sectors, to achieve greater success.
Participants agreed that there are still gaps in capacity for change in many countries and that continued efforts are needed.


The forum concluded with a summary of the two days by Prof. Chiho Watanabe, Special Advisor to the President of the Nagasaki University (former President of NIES) on behalf of the members of the Joint Planning Committee consisting of the two Special Co-organizers and NIES, which jointly planned this forum.
In closing remarks, Dr. Yuichi Moriguchi (Vice President of NIES) thanked all those involved in the Forum and the participants and concluded the two-day program by expressing hope for continued international collaboration even under the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's forum, focused on "Future Earth" a global initiative, was a great opportunity to discuss with people from various countries, not only from the Southeast Asian region but also from all over Asia and even from researchers in Europe, America and the other regions.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all those who participated in this forum. Although there are still many difficulties to cross the borders and meet face-to-face, we will continue to promote international cooperation by taking advantage of the benefits of online conferences.

This article could not sufficiently introduce the contents of the discussions at the Open Symposium on Day 1 and the expert sessions on Valuing Environment and Systemic Risks on Day 2, and the report on the Forum as a whole can be found on the Forum's official website (https://www.nies.go.jp/i-forum/).
Archived videos of the Open Symposium are available on the official NIES YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiEe1S5tFF4).
Please take a look!

*Speakers' titles are as they were at that time.
*This report is the English version of the article from “NIES News Vol.41 No.1”