Our Approach

  • Reflecting the unique mission and identity of UNU-IAS, our approach to our work has four distinctive characteristics:

    Policy Relevance

    UNU-IAS research, education and training are directed towards issues of high policy relevance for the United Nations and its member states. As part of UNU, the institute is uniquely placed to engage with UN organizations and agendas while bringing the advantages of an academic institution built on the principles of academic freedom and autonomy. UNU-IAS combines its in-house expertise with a global network of scholars, developing a growing portfolio of knowledge products driven by the needs of policymakers. The institute also works closely with governments and other partners to translate UN agreements into national and local initiatives.

    Advanced and Innovative

    UNU-IAS applies advanced research methodologies and innovative approaches to challenge conventional thinking and develop creative solutions to emerging issues of global concern. Our research is advanced in that it looks ahead to the future to identify strategic areas of research related to sustainability, particularly for governments and policymakers in developing countries. By engaging its technical expertise and analytical capacity, UNU-IAS can assist UN organizations in learning from their past projects and initiatives, helping to improve the design and delivery of future activities.


    Collaborative partnerships are a critical foundation and distinguishing feature of all UNU-IAS work. The institute bridges the UN system and policymakers with the academic community and civil society, while serving as an important link between scholars in Japan and other countries. Our global network of scholars and partner institutions brings diverse expertise to research projects, while our students benefit from access to leading scholars and practitioners, as well as opportunities for field experience. This far-reaching community of partner institutions provides a strong platform for research and teaching that bridge the developing and developed worlds.


    UNU-IAS focuses on real-world problems as topics of analysis and learning rather than traditional academic disciplines, recognizing that pressing issues of sustainability are complex and interdisciplinary. The institute combines expertise from a wide range of areas related to sustainability, engaging experts from the natural, social and life sciences. Our research applies this diverse expertise to address common problems, while our teaching directly fosters interdisciplinary understanding and skills among the next generation of international leaders.