On 4 February 2017, UNU-IAS, Wetlands International Japan (WIJ), and the Global Environment Outreach Centre (GEOC) jointly organized the World Wetlands Day Symposium 2017. This symposium focused the latest issues affecting wetlands, in particular Ecosystem–based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR).
The symposium began with a speech on Eco-DRR implemented by foreign countries delivered by Naoya Furuta, a professor in the Institute of Regional Development at Taisho University and also a coordinator in the IUCN Japan Liaison Office. Frequent natural disasters in recent years have brought attention to Eco-DRR in many countries, and it has been integrated into policy for environmental protection at the international level as well as the domestic level. Furuta mentioned that there is a growing amount of scientific research on Eco-DRR, and case-study analyses and the setting of guidelines are also being seen more frequently than before.
Yukihiro Shimatani, a professor from the Faculty of Engineering of Kyushu University, spoke about several examples of Eco-DRR implementation in Japan, explaining the characteristics of Japanese Eco-DRR style. He noted that what is particular to Japan is that natural disasters are managed in such a way not only to prevent and reduce disasters, but also to link to local economic development. He pointed out that many current practices are derived from traditional techniques. He also raised the limitations of established methodology in measuring quantitative impacts and emphasized the importance of further research in the future.
Following the speeches, a panel discussion explored innovative approaches to wetland conservation, including Eco-DRR efforts that have been made post-Great East Japan Earthquake. Noriko Moriwake from UNU-IAS explained how satoyama and satoumi function for Eco-DRR. With agriculture, forestry, fishery, biodiversity, and the stability of human life as key factors, these concepts are closely connected not only to the protection of ecosystems, but also to disaster risk reduction and the improvement of human life.