Leading transformative change toward a sustainable society as a change agent
The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) was established in March 1998 under an initiative of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ), in response to the third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) in Kyoto. In the following quarter century, IGES has positioned itself as a “change agent”, broadening its scope to include many issues related to the global environment, and promoting policy research to encourage transformative change toward a sustainable society. Today, IGES also continues its work to strengthen partnerships with various stakeholders mainly in the Asia-Pacific including Japan.
Beyond conducting practical research in the four areas of climate change and energy, sustainable production and consumption, biodiversity and forests, and adaptation and water environment, IGES has formed taskforces focusing on business, cities and finance. In addition to its headquarters in Hayama (Kanagawa Prefecture), IGES founded the Kansai Research Centre (Hyogo Prefecture), the Kitakyushu Urban Centre and the Tokyo Sustainability Forum in Japan, as well as the Bangkok Regional Centre and the Beijing Office, to promote practical research and social cooperation based on the characteristics of each region. In addition, we have gained international trust by supporting international programmes such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as well as maintaining close collaboration with major international organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations University (UNU).
As the COVID-19 pandemic turned into a global challenge, IGES disseminated policy recommendations focusing on green recovery at the national and international levels. In a post-COVID society, we need to rethink the concentration of power in major cities, practice new ways of working that take advantage of the natural environment, and develop different methods of communication that optimise the real and virtual worlds. The “Regional Circulating and Ecological Sphere” proposed in the Fifth Basic Environment Plan of Japan in 2018 aims to promote independent and decentralised use of resources and energy, as well as create a region that, through people-to-people exchanges and information networks, closely connects Japan and other countries. This will lead to IGES’ vision of a desirable sustainable society after COVID-19.
I myself was deeply involved in developing the concept of the Regional Circulating and Ecological Sphere or Regional CES. It outlines how a decarbonised society, a resource circulating society, and a society in harmony with nature must be pursued in an integrated manner both domestically and overseas. It is essential to take an integrated approach and come up with simultaneous solutions to diverse problems, so we can bypass the situation where each ideal social image and the path to reach it are discussed separately. To contribute to this, in the Integrative Strategic Research Programme for the 8th Phase of IGES, which starts in July 2021, we have established a new “Integrated Sustainability Centre” (ISC) at IGES headquarters in Hayama. This integrated approach will also effectively contribute to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international agreements such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The decade from 2021 to 2030 represents a critical turning point that will determine the future fate of the global environment, and IGES will continue to play its role as a leading environmental think tank in the Asia-Pacific region.
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)