On 14 February 2014, a UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) workshop presented the results of a 3-year research project focusing on how to strengthen the resilience of communities in Asia faced with climate change. The International Workshop on Resilient Asia: Fusion of Traditional and Modern Systems for a Sustainable Future was held at UNU headquarters in Tokyo, and organized with The University of Tokyo’s Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S) and the Research Institute for Human and Nature (RINH). It presented the results of the research project Strategies to Enhance Resilience to Climate and Ecosystem Changes Utilizing Traditional Bio-Production Systems in Rural Asia (CECAR-Asia).
The workshop was opened by Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi (Senior Vice-Rector, UNU), who emphasized the importance of traditional knowledge and its integration with modern technology in developing new forms of resilience to transform conventional farming systems to be more sustainable. A keynote lecture by Prof. Yasuyuki Kohno emphasized the fusion of modern and traditional system and its challenges and how the smallholders are key players in forming this hybrid technology. In the second keynote lecture Prof. Syunji Matsuoka shared his ideas on the need for diversity, social innovation and institutional sustainability..
The opening session was followed by presentations on research work carried out during the last 3 years in collaboration with partner universities, exploring factors for community resilience against climate change and how social resilience can be strengthened to promote sustainable development of agricultural communities in Asia. Dr.Hirotaka Matsuda’s explained his study focused on adaptation of rice production in Vietnam, where people are responding to the changes by incorporating the VAC system (traditional farmining system stands for Vuon-Ao-Chuong) and hybrid systems in farming. Dr.Srikantha Hearth presented the concept of a mosaic system that combines ancient irrigation system along with modern systems to provide resilience, efficiency and diversity through distributed community management in Sri Lanka. Research by Dr. Daisuke Naito on Indonesia’s community forests highlighted the resilience of smallholders. Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan considered how challenges are being converted into opportunities in Vietnam. Prof. Irham ’s research reflected that people in rural areas of Indonesia were more vulnerable but are less aware of how to deal with changes, compared to those living in less vulnerable areas. Prof. S Weerakoon presented projected temperature variations in coming decades in Sri Lanka, proposing the introduction of more tolerant rice varieties as an adaptation measure, together with strengthening of the storage-based irrigation system by improving water management and utilizing the existing tank based irrigation system.
The presentation session was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Prof. Takeuchi. The concluding remarks stressed the need for synthesis of traditional and modern systems to realize smart agriculture in the current climate-uncertain situation, to enhance farmers’ resilience and adaptation. The symposium concluded with closing remarks by Prof. Nhuan..
Contact: Osamu Saito, UNU-ISP:Saito@unu.edu