The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) is a research and teaching institute dedicated to realising a sustainable future for people and our planet. Based in Tokyo, Japan, UNU-IAS serves the international community by producing evidence-based knowledge and solutions to inform policymaking and address priority issues for the UN system.
Through policy-oriented research and capacity development the institute drives progress in three thematic areas: biodiversity & society, water & natural resources, and innovation & education. UNU-IAS creates new value by integrating expertise across these areas, in both academia and policymaking, to mobilise knowledge for sustainability. It applies advanced research methodologies and innovative approaches to challenge conventional thinking and develop creative solutions to emerging issues of global concern. The institute’s research, education, and training engage a global network of scholars and partner institutions, driving interconnectedness between policymakers and the science and academic communities to realise sustainable solutions. Through field-based research, including an operating unit in Kanazawa city (Ishikawa prefecture, Japan), UNU-IAS is developing models for localising the Sustainable Development Goals and other global agendas by building multi-stakeholder partnerships.
UNU-IAS postgraduate education advances the broader transformation towards sustainability in society — producing the policymakers and researchers of tomorrow, who will be at the forefront of global efforts for sustainability. The institute offers master’s and doctoral degrees, postdoctoral fellowships, and innovative short courses, in close collaboration with leading universities in Japan and other countries.
UNU-IAS is one of 14 institutes and programmes, located in 12 different countries, which together comprise the United Nations University (UNU)—a global think tank and postgraduate teaching organization, headquartered in Tokyo.
The mission of UNU is to contribute, through collaborative research and education, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States.
UNU-IAS was inaugurated on 1 January 2014. It was formed through the consolidation of two previous UNU institutes: the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies based in Yokohama, and the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) based in Tokyo. UNU-IAS builds on the strong foundations of these two previous institutes, and of more than 45 years of UNU academic activities in Tokyo.
The first of these two institutes, the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies, was established in 1996 to explore interactions of social and natural systems and identify strategic paths to sustainable development. Its projects focused on biodiversity, sustainable development governance, urban ecosystems, science and technology policy options for developing and least developed countries, and education for sustainable development. It launched a postgraduate degree programme in 2011, the Master of Science in Environmental Governance with Specialization in Biodiversity.
The UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace was established in 2009, integrating two previous UNU academic programmes based at UNU headquarters in Tokyo: the UNU Environment and Sustainable Development Programme and the UNU Peace and Governance Programme. The activities of UNU-ISP were in three areas— global change, peace and human rights, and development—with a mandate to address the interconnections between pressing global issues in these areas. UNU-ISP introduced UNU’s first postgraduate degree in September 2010, the Master of Science in Sustainability, Development and Peace.
For more information on previous degree programmes and courses, please visit the past courses page.
Dr. Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi assumed leadership of UNU-IAS in November 2019. Her fields of specialisation include international development and cooperation, ICT in education, reform and policy of education, science and technology policy, and the application of technology in world heritage site preservation. Prior to this post, Dr Yamaguchi worked at Tokyo Institute of Technology as an Associate Professor (2002‒2006) and then full Professor (from 2006). In 2005‒2007, she concurrently served as Advisor to the President.
Before joining Tokyo Institute of Technology, Dr Yamaguchi worked for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), first at the Paris headquarters, and then in the Beijing Office. While with UNESCO, she was involved primarily in the development of education systems in China, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Pakistan.
Dr Yamaguchi is an Associate Member of the Science Council of Japan, and an active member of the Comparative and International Education Society, the Japan Society for International Development, Educational Research Association, and the World Council of Comparative Education Societies. She also has served on numerous committees focused on international activities and comparative educational studies, including those organised by the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Dr Yamaguchi holds a PhD in Economics of Education from Columbia University (New York). She has authored or co-authored more than 200 publications and conference/seminar presentations.