"Climate Change, Globalisation and the Vulnerability of Cities" Co-hosted by IGES and UNU

Public Seminar featuring Professor William Rees, recipient of the 2012 Boulding Prize in Ecological Economics, Blue Planet Prize laureate, and co-developer of “ecological footprint” analysis

01The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) co-organised a public seminar entitled “Climate Change, Globalisation and the Vulnerability of Cities”.

In the three years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have become increasingly recognised by diverse stakeholders within Japan. Nevertheless, as cities, businesses, and the general public continue to drive efforts to achieve the SDGs, growing urbanisation, consumption demands, and changing lifestyles are leading to an ever-increasing dependence on non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels.

In his keynote address, Professor William Rees reflected on such issues in the face of an uncertain future, raising new questions about the prevailing model of urban sustainability. For instance, what actions and incentives can governments leverage to promote energy conservation and expand viable alternatives, to innovation? How can circular economy approaches help to minimise energy and material demands given escalating resource constraints? Where can private investments be best mobilised to support new business models, products, and services that benefit the public good?

Professor Rees’ keynote address also focused on risks and challenges facing international cities given resource limitations, population growth, and food security issues emerging across the globe. Following the keynote address, the event invited representatives from various groups including cities, the private sector, academics, researchers, and the wider public to exchange views on Japan’s current trajectory and future implications for the promotion of sustainable cities.

Before Professor Rees’ keynote, Ms Yuko Nishida from Japan’s Renewable Energy Institute discussed recent developments in Japanese cities. Ms Nishida’s extensive expertise includes longstanding work with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government on climate policies and international environmental cooperation projects, collaboration with the C40 Cities Initiative.

William ReesBackground of Prof. William Rees

William Rees is a human ecologist, ecological economist, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning in Vancouver, Canada. Prof. Rees is perhaps best known in ecological economics as the originator and co-developer of “ecological footprint analysis”. He is the recipient of both the 2012 Boulding Prize in Ecological Economics and a 2012 Blue Planet Prize (jointly with Dr Mathis Wackernagel).

IGES Expert Interviews

Following the session, IGES Researcher Lewis Akenji sat down with Dr. Rees for a quick interview, which has been published to IGES’ YouTube channel

» IGES YouTube Channel

Event Details


United Nations University, 5th floor, Elizabeth Rose Conference Hall  Access
(5-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8925, Japan)

Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, S-16, "Policy Design and Evaluation to Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns in Asian Region"
Japanese / English
(Simultaneous interpretation)
Programme.pdf(107.68 KB)

IGES Sustainable Consumption and Production Area

2108-11 Kamiyamaguchi, Hayama, Kanagawa, 
240-0115 Japan
Tel: +81-46-855-3840
Fax: +81-46-855-3809
E-mail: [email protected]


Presentation Materials

14:00-14:15 Welcome message Kazuhiko Takemoto, Director, UNU-IAS  
Masahiko Hirao, Professor, Department of Chemical System Engineering, University of Tokyo (tbc)  
14:15-14:25 Introduction Issue in Japanese context:
Yuko Nishida, Manager, Climate Change Group, Renewable Energy Institute
PDF (2.2MB)
14:25-15:15 Keynote address
“Climate Change, Globalization and the Vulnerability of Cities”
William Rees, Professor Emeritus, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia
PDF (635KB)
15:15-15:30 Break    
15:30-16:30 Panel discussion Moderator:
Lewis Akenji, Programme Director, Sustainable Consumption and Production, IGES
William Rees, Professor Emeritus, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia  
Yuko Nishida, Manager, Climate Change Group, Renewable Energy Institute  
Yasushi Umeda, Professor, Department of Precision Engineering, University of Tokyo  
Yasuhiko Hotta, Programme Director, Sustainable Consumption and Production, IGES  
Masachika Suzuki, Professor, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Sophia University, Senior Research Fellow, UNU-IAS  
16:30 Closing message Hideyuki Mori, Executive Director, IGES