Landscape Approaches & COVID-19 Recovery Highlighted in HLPF Side Event

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  • 2020•07•17     New York

    As part of this year’s UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), UNU-IAS co-organised the side event Satoyama Initiative – Societies in Harmony with Nature: An inclusive approach for communities, landscapes and seascapes on 16 July 2020. The event focused on the Satoyama Initiative and landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers also discussed how landscape approaches could contribute to recovery for a more sustainable future.

    UNU-IAS Director Prof. Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi, outlined the contributions of UNU-IAS, including as the secretariat of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI), a global platform working towards sustainable landscape management. She pointed out the need for multinational cooperation and collaboration, urging action to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and realise environmental sustainability.

    Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi (President, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan; Visiting Professor, UNU-IAS) gave the keynote address, presenting the background and concepts of the Satoyama Initiative, as well as the Satoyama Development Mechanism – a mechanism to implement landscape approaches by providing seed funding to landscape-oriented projects — and the emerging field of work around “regional circulating and ecological spheres”. In the context of recovery from COVID-19, he pointed out that inappropriate human–nature relationships were responsible for this situation, and that buffers between the two were needed to ensure a harmonious relationship.

    In a video message, H.E. Shinjirō Koizumi (Minister of the Environment, Japan) spoke about efforts by the Government of Japan to promote landscape approaches within the country and beyond, noting in particular the traditional satoyama landscapes of Japan – which give the Satoyama Initiative its name – as a model for sustainable resource management. He also touched on Japan’s efforts towards building a more sustainable future after COVID-19, and expressed the Ministry’s commitment to continue supporting Satoyama Initiative activities in the future.

    Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema (Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity; CBD) discussed how biodiversity was at the heart of the challenges facing the world. She indicated the need to move away from “business as usual” to a new model for protecting nature while providing decent livelihoods, especially for those living in severe poverty. She praised the Satoyama Initiative for its potential to lead to a “new normal” in the CBD objective to achieve sustainable use of biodiversity.

    H.E. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (Minister, of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica) discussed the balance between human needs for goods and the need for a healthy environment, noting that the move toward increased production has upset this balance. He recommended the Satoyama Initiative as a “vaccine” for COVID-19 and other problems by restoring a healthy human–nature relationship, and noted the importance of the GEF SGP for its work in Costa Rica.

    Mr. Achim Steiner (Administrator, UNDP) underlined the importance of the Satoyama Initiative and its partnership, the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI). He emphasised the relationship between nature and COVID-19, with zoonotic diseases on the rise as habitat fragmentation and other environmental threats increase, and the need to build on linkages between human well-being and environmental sustainability.

    The event was moderated by Ms. Yoko Watanabe (Global Manager, UNDP GEF-SGP), who gave an introduction to UNDP’s work with the Satoyama Initiative including the Community Development and Knowledge Management for the Satoyama Initiative (COMDEKS) programme, which was recently extended for a third phase to promote landscape approaches through UNDP’s work around the world.

    Participants asked about the global trend toward intensification in production systems, while Prof. Takeuchi suggested that we needed to mainstream sustainable production. Mr. Steiner noted that people constantly made decisions about what to use as consumers, that we needed people to make good decisions for sustainability, and that the Satoyama Initiative could help incentivise and inspire people to do so. In her final remarks, Prof. Yamaguchi spoke of the importance of mobilising local resources.

    The event was co-organised by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES); the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica; the CBD Secretariat; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP); and UNU-IAS.

    A recording of the event can be viewed here.

    The Satoyama Initiative is a global effort instituted by UNU-IAS and the Ministry of the Environment, Japan to achieve its vision of “societies in harmony with nature” through revitalisation and sustainable management of landscapes and seascapes.