The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) is a leading research and teaching institute based in Tokyo, Japan. Its mission is to advance efforts towards a more sustainable future, through policy-oriented research and capacity development focused on sustainability and its social, economic and environmental dimensions. UNU-IAS serves the international community through innovative contributions to high-level policymaking and debates, addressing priority issues for the UN system.
The activities of the institute are in three thematic areas: sustainable societies, natural capital and biodiversity, and global change and resilience. UNU-IAS applies advanced research methodologies and innovative approaches to challenge conventional thinking and develop creative solutions to emerging issues of global concern in these areas. The institute’s research, education and training combine expertise from a wide range of areas related to sustainability, and engage a global network of scholars and partner institutions.
Through postgraduate teaching UNU-IAS develops international leaders with the interdisciplinary understanding and technical skills needed to advance creative solutions to problems of 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 13 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 35 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. Kazuhiko Takemoto of Japan is the inaugural Director of UNU-IAS. He brings to the position some four decades of comprehensive experience in environmental policy development and research management, and as an international environmental diplomat.
Since 2010, Dr. Takemoto has worked with the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies as a Senior Fellow and Programme Director, overseeing the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and International Satoyama Initiative (ISI) and the Institute’s Operating Unit Ishikawa / Kanazawa (OUIK). He has also acted as Programme Leader of the Fukushima Global Communication programme of the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace.
Prior to joining UNU, Dr. Takemoto held a variety of environment-related positions in the Japanese Government, most recently serving (2008–2010) as Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). In that role, he was responsible for developing national strategies for international negotiations on global environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and trans-boundary air pollution.
Dr. Takemoto previously had served in MOE as Director-General of the Environment Management Bureau (2005–2008), Deputy Director-General of the Global Environment Bureau (2003–2005), and Director of the Waste Management Division (2002–2003). Before that, he worked in MOE’s predecessor, the Environment Agency, in various posts, as well as with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Austria; 1995–1996), The World Bank (1989–1992), and the Shizuoka Prefectural Government (1980–1982). He also has served as Vice-Chair of the OECD Environmental Policy Committee, as Co-Chair of the Ministerial Round Table of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), and as Director of the Secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN).
Dr. Takemoto holds a PhD degree from The University of Tokyo and a Master of International Public Policy degree from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University.