UNU-IAS Celebrates International Day of Biodiversity 2019

  • 2019•05•22

    Photo: MOEJ

    On 11 May, UNU-IAS, the Ministry of the Environment, Japan, and the Global Environmental Outreach Centre (GEOC) jointly organized a symposium to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity. This year’s IDB theme was “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health.” Along with the theme, the symposium shared best practices for local communities to protect biodiversity and discussed ways to accelerate such actions locally and globally.

    Minoru Kiuchi, State Minister of the Environment, gave opening remarks that introduced the adoption of the Metz Charter on Biodiversity at the G7 Environment Ministerial meeting. In a video message, Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), pointed out the way we grow, the way we process, transport, consume, and waste food are among the most prominent threats to biodiversity and called for collective action as an agent of positive change.

    In his keynote speech, Kazuhiko Takeuchi, UNU-IAS Senior Visiting Professor, pointed out that, in order to increase self-sufficiency as well as to ensure food security and our health, there is a need to reconsider Japan’s heavy reliance on imported food. Towards the post-2020 biodiversity targets, Takeuchi highlighted the importance of integration of the SDGs as well as food, health, agriculture, and forestry and fisheries targets and stressed a need for more information-sharing on Japan’s good practices. Takeuchi also introduced the Satoyama Initiative, a joint initiative between the MOEJ and UNU-IAS.

    In the next session, local biodiversity practices were shared by journalist Ayumi Kotani and Kiyohiro Goto from the Shizugawa Branch of the Miyagi Prefecture Fisheries Cooperative. Kotani highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder support of food systems by introducing the concept of friendship production and consumption and examples from Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). Goto shared a story on how his oyster farm was rebuilt sustainably after being destroyed by the tsunami resulting from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake to become the first farming collective in Japan to acquire ASC certification.

    In the final session, Evonne Yiu, UNU-IAS Research Fellow; Takahiro Suzuki, Aeon Group Ltd.; and Toshio Torii, MOEJ, joined the panel discussion. In the beginning, Yiu introduced the current Food and Agriculture Organisation outlook of biodiversity, food and agriculture. Panelists stressed the importance of considering consumption as investment, thinking through supply chains, disclosing information, and education. Tokutaro Nakai, MOEJ, summarized the discussion by highlighting the importance of scaling up best practices by linking biodiversity, food and health.

    Tsunao Watanabe (UNU-IAS, GEOC) closed the symposium by addressing the importance of accelerating biodiversity practices together with community development.