About Sustainability… The IGES Podcast


The Podcast

Episode 2 - APFSD & HLPF: Reviewing SDG progress

This time, Andre, Erin, and Simon spoke with Nobue Amanuma, a Deputy Director at the IGES Integrated Sustainability Centre. Nobue and Simon have been quite deeply involved in IGES work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We discussed the SDGs, and in particular two key upcoming meetings that review countries’ progress toward them. The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), happening in March 2022, is the main regional event for the Asia-Pacific region, and the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is its global event cousin that takes place in July 2022.


We started by talking about what these meetings are and why they are convened. We spent quite a bit of time exploring the concept of “Voluntary National Reviews” (VNRs), and their “shadow report” or “spotlight report” counterparts, all of which are key features of APFSD and HLPF. We discussed IGES involvement at the meetings and asked what else happens there, besides the review of SDG progress. We talked about the importance of these meetings as forums for engagement between civil society and governments, and we ended off by speculating about whether they are as effective as they could be.


To learn more about the APFSD and HLPF, and IGES contributions to these processes in 2022, please visit:

  • IGES’ APFSD 2022 Special Webpage (coming soon)
  • IGES’ HLPF 2022 Special Webpage (coming soon)

Episode 1 - What is UNEA-5.2?

Simon shares his knowledge on UNEA-5.2, the second half of UNEP’s biennial United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEA functions as the world’s parliament on the environment, where global environment ministers congregate to debate and decide on priorities of environmental concern in the context of nation states and the global community. Due to COVID-19, the event was divided into two halves with the first part taking place almost entirely online in early 2021, and the second half shortly taking place at the end of February 2022.

Some key questions covered:

  • What is UNEA? How is it different from other environment conferences, like the climate COP?
  • What should we expect from UNEA-5.2 at the end of February?
  • Which issues at UNEA-5.2 are particularly contentious?

To learn more about the 5th session of UNEA, please visit:

IGES’ UNEA-5.2 Special Webpage: https://www.iges.or.jp/en/projects/unea5-2
IGES’ UNEA-5.1 Special Webpage: https://www.iges.or.jp/en/projects/unea5-1

This podcast is brought to you by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), an environmental policy think-tank based in Hayama, Japan. IGES experts are concerned with environmental and sustainability challenges including, but not limited to, climate change; biodiversity and ecosystems; sustainable consumption and production; the Sustainable Development Goals; and overarching governance issues. Harnessing this expertise, the podcast serves to discuss and draw attention to contemporary issues and events relevant to sustainability with a frank reflective discussion from both within and beyond the Institute.

Everything shared on the podcast will be off-the-cuff discussion, and any viewpoints expressed are those held by the speaker at the time of recording. They are not necessarily official IGES positions.



André Mader

André Mader leads the IGES unit on Biodiversity and Forests and is adviser to an IPBES Technical Support Unit hosted by IGES. He has a background in conservation management, science and policy, and has practiced mostly in Switzerland, Canada, the UAE, and his land of birth, South Africa.


Erin Kawazu

Erin Kawazu is a Programme Coordinator in Knowledge Management and Communications, Strategic Management Office at IGES. Her background is in environmental health sciences, a field that combines environmental science and public health. Off work, she can be found reading books on her ancient Kindle Keyboard, journaling, and struggling to self-teach the guitar.


Simon Høiberg Olsen

Simon Høiberg Olsen is Research Manager at IGES. His areas of interest include environmental governance, civic engagement, social justice and the sustainable development goals (SDGs). He has a Master’s Degree in Southeast-Asian studies from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and a PhD in Environmental Sciences and Policy from the Central European University, Hungary. In his free time he enjoys gardening, woodworking and repair.


Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald leads the Technology Solutions unit at IGES. He has decades of experience in IT and Web Development, but is an interested outsider when it comes to environmental issues. He loves making stuff, both physical and digital.