On 24 March 2017, Sustainability Science, UNU-IAS, the University of Tokyo, and the Sustainability Science Consortium (SSC) jointly organized an international symposium to commemorate the journal’s tenth anniversary. This symposium focused on global partnerships in the evolving academic field of sustainability science and research over the past 10 years, updating the audience regarding the current knowledge and research priorities. The main discussion was on future research directions with a critical analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the perspective of how the science community can best contribute to their implementation.
The symposium began with opening remarks by UNU-IAS Senior Visiting Professor Kazuhiko Takeuchi, UNU Senior Vice-Rector Taikan Oki, MEXT Director-General for International Affairs Koichi Morimoto, and Springer Nature Executive Editor Alexandrine Cheronet. Takeuchi, also the editor-in-chief of the journal, discussed the key characteristics of sustainability science, the journal’s evolution over the last 10 years, and opportunities and future directions for tackling complex issues of the discipline. Oki highlighted how collaboration with the journal is important for achieving the UNU objective of robust implementation of the SDGs.
Morimoto mentioned that SSJ is among the top 10 journals published in English in Japan and the first academic journal in sustainability science, and expressed his congratulations on the major footprint it has made internationally. Cheronet said that Sustainability Science has been at the forefront in this area for the past 10 years and has a key role to play in advancing the research for sustainability and developing solutions for the challenges faced in this area. She spoke about the growth of the journal and new initiatives taken by the publishers to encourage more research that contributes to our understanding of the questions and problems that exist.
Following the opening speeches, Akimasa Sumi (President, National Institute for Environmental Studies–NIES) chaired the first session which explored the evolution and landscape of sustainability science over the past decade. Nobuo Mimura of Ibaraki University, talked about the interactive evolution of research and policy for climate change. He highlighted how we can achieve sustainable future by building a climate-resilient society based on adaptation and mitigation, enhancing overall resilience, and achieving carbon neutrality. Yuya Kajikawa of the Tokyo Institute of Technology illustrated how sustainability research has developed and promoted interdisciplinary research, highlighting its contribution to providing a fundamental basis for the way forward for the SDGs.
Anders Karlsson of Global Academic Relations APAC, Elsevier presented on “mapping” for global sustainability science, discussing the current state of science supporting the SDGs. In later part of his presentation, he focused on the position on the journal within the research community, its outreach, and growth. Richard Bawden of Western Sydney University, Australia emphasized the need to adapt our worldviews to address the modern societal issues linked to sustainability science, and to eliminate the perceived dichotomy between social sciences and natural sciences. He concluded with a call for more significant recognition, critical review, and application of philosophical foundations to the further development of sustainability science. Braden Allenby of Arizona State University, USA joined remotely and spoke on emerging technologies, such as how they will change human, natural, and built systems at various scales. In his opinion, the ever-accelerating evolution in technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technology, and robotics will result in a future that is unpredictable and for which the implications for sustainability science are profound.
The second session, chaired by UNU-IAS Academic Programme Officer and SSJ Managing Editor Osamu Saito, homed in on future research directions for sustainability science and the SDGs in the coming decade. Norichika Kanie of Keio University presented unique features of the SDGs and introduced recent work from Future Earth’s SDG Knowledge Action Network and discussed transdisciplinary possibilities for promoting the SDGs. In continuation, Alexandros Gasparatos of IR3S, The University of Tokyo, shared his research results on operational and collapsed bioenergy projects from Sub-Saharan Africa. In his talk, he highlighted some of the key trade-offs of bioenergy cropping systems as a means of showing their potential to contribute positively or negatively to the attainments of the SDGs. Masahiro Sugiyama of the University of Tokyo also presented a case of solar geoengineering, the highlight of which was stakeholder and researcher involvement from a multitude of disciplines. He suggested that this kind of participatory scenario research would allow for better assessment of the risks and benefits of solar geoengineering as well as key governance concerns. In agreement with the above speakers, Ricardo Bagarinao of the University of the Philippines Open University shared his views on inclusive quality education as one of the goal of the SDGs. Iris Bohnet of James Cook University, Australia also joined remotely and shared some Australian case studies outlining their potential contributions and limitations to achieving the SDGs.