Background: The Agenda for Sustainable Development
At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2015, “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030)” was adopted by world leaders. This agenda declared an action plan to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. It named the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), consisting of 17 universal goals and 169 targets. UNU-IAS has initiated the Grant for Global Sustainability (GGS) since 2015 to promote and expand the collaboration with research and educational institutes in Japan to jointly address global issues prioritized in SDGs.
Modality: Partnership with universities in Japan
In accordance with its institutional strategic focus areas such as environment, education, and resilience, the UNU-IAS set four prioritized themes of the GGS (education, resilience, earth system, and gender equality) to implement projects in collaboration with universities in Japan for maximum of three years to contribute to the achievement of SDGs. The results of the projects are expected to be integrated with UNU-IAS’s efforts to impact the policy making and programme designing within the UN system as well as national and regional governments as a Japan-led initiative. 7 projects were implemented in total (2015-2020) under the four themes below. Each project’s details are thoroughly presented in the outputs tab.
To accelerate the efforts of UNU-IAS further to scientifically contribute to the achievement of SDGs, GGS has been redesigned in 2020-21 under the new Strategic Plan 2020-2024 to strengthen the partnership between UNU-IAS and educational and research institutes in Japan to promote the outcomes as a Japan-led initiative to contribute to the promotion of the SDG. UNU-IAS projects and researchers are encouraged to design a joint project with a wide range of stakeholders including Japanese universities, research institutes, and companies while taking advantage of collaboration with other UNU institutes and UN agencies.
2020- 2024: Four themes of the GGS
1. Biodiversity & society,
2. Water & natural resources,
3. Innovation & education, and
4. Governance for Sustainable Development; Monitoring & evaluation of SDGs implementation
2015- 2020: Four themes of the GGS
Theme A: Education and governance to achieve inclusive development – Under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it will be crucial to accelerate efforts to improve education and governance to realize inclusive development, through which all people participate in and benefit from social and economic development. GGS address education and governance toward realizing a more fair development.
Theme B: Solutions to the challenges faced by the Earth’s systems – Changes in the natural environment are causing disasters, resulting in increased poverty and the vulnerability of humans and society. Human and social development, including related to food, water and energy, continue to be prioritized under the Agenda 2030, thus GGS targets to propose innovative solutions to the challenges to sustainable development faced by the Earth.
Theme C: Solutions to the challenges encountered by cities and residential areas – In many developing countries, urbanization is progressing at a pace that exceeds social infrastructure development; and as a result, the less well-off and inflow workers are often forced to live in a poor living environment. Therefore, GGS targets to address the sustainable development of human living through prevention of deterioration of human living in the urbanized world, ameliorating conditions to improve the living environment of all people.
Theme D: Solutions to Challenges Regarding Women’s Empowerment and Gender – The Agenda 2030 emphasized the cruciality of women’s empowerment to end the poverty, improved health, and eradication of violence against women, and they cannot be achieved without gender-equal participation and strong commitment of various stakeholders. Thus, the GGS tackles the issue on how to strengthen their commitment to promote further gender mainstreaming which must be a solid foundation of sustainable development.
Achievements: Please see outputs tab.
During the first phase (2015-2020) of the Grant for Global Sustainability, 7 projects below were globally implemented in 17 countries that included Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nepal, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, Viet Nam, and Zambia. These projects were implemented in close collaboration between diverse local counterparts such as national and local governments, relevant line ministries, local schools and universities, research institutes, local and multinational companies, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and NGOs.
The project members from all seven projects, including local counterparts, have made 148 academic presentations at various workshops and international symposiums to disseminate the project results. The media coverage and the presentation targeting the public were made 26 times inside and outside Japan. More importantly, 171 peer-reviewed academic papers were published. 4 web-platforms were established to continuously disseminate the results across borders, and these web-platforms are playing a critical role to sustain the result of each project on the ground especially in the current situation of COVID-19 pandemic.
Theme A: Education and governance to achieve inclusive development
Development of the Inclusive Education System Model for Learning Improvement in Developing Countries (Hiroshima University)
This project helped to improve the educational system in Africa and Asia, which is encapsulated in Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The project focused on the multi-faceted and interrelated nature of educational inequality that is peculiar to each locality of Asian and African countries and aimed at developing a model of an inclusive education system for learning improvement in which stakeholders participate. Through undertaking and sharing the results from “Learning Improvement Research”, “Issue Driven Research”, the project has established a model of “University–Policy–Practice Partnerships (UPPPs)” as a system model for educational development to build a community of collaborative problem-solution including local universities and education administrators which are essential for commitment, ownership, and sustainability. This model enables to institutionalise the inclusive learning improvement system to be continuously enhanced as a feedback result from the counterpart universities’ own understanding and upgrading.
(Photo: Lesson Study in Lusaka, Zambia)
Knowledge and skills which lead to decent work: The development of a skills assessment module for TVET graduates and curriculum evaluation in developing countries. (Nagoya University)
This project developed a module for assessing supply-demand gaps of expectation for skills and improving the relevance of training in Ethiopia, South Africa, and Ghana. Based on a comparative analysis, tracer study, and reliability test, the project aimed to improve the applicability of skills training in Africa to the real needs of the labor market. The results of the project contributed to develop the skills assessment module and the module has been operationalised in the online system. Furthermore, in Ethiopia, the project result was selected to be disseminated as the Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Project, and also UNESCO Dakar International Educational Planning Institute (IIEP) requested the project to conduct the assessment of skills to produce evidence for their policymaking.
(Photo: Technical skills assessment of TVET students in Ghana)
Strengthening Social Resilience through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): Building a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and Improvement Mechanisms. (Tokyo University)
The project developed an ESD/GCED evaluation conceptual framework based on research evidence at the global level and a set of indicators tailored to the regional contexts of Asian countries. The evaluation results indicated that supporting efforts to address global issues through teacher training and other means in the future is highly needed. For example, the results of the survey in Indonesia revealed that while students’ knowledge and awareness of global environmental issues and the enjoyment of diversity are high, understanding international relations and the SDGs is still low. Through the feedback of the results of this project to a wide range of stakeholders (i.e., from ESD practitioners in schools to research institutions and international organisations), the project will contribute to the expansion of ESD at the local and global levels.
(Photo: Sustainable village workshop in Haruku island, Indonesia)
Theme B: Solutions to the challenges faced by the Earth’s systems
Enhancement of urban disaster resilience through activities of local participatory platform. (Kyoto University)
The project aimed to enhance resilience of cities against natural disasters through capacity building of the stakeholders in cities. The project produced a localised action plan and it contributed to establish a practical disaster preparedness system that can be locally operated and create a flow of actions – risk assessment, response designing, and stakeholder training. In Nepal, the project supported local stakeholders to produce the ward-level-disaster risk reduction (DRR) action plans which became the first case in the whole country. Additionally, in Myanmar, school-centered DRR management action plans have been developed for the first time in the country.
(Photo: Local DRR platform in Katmandhu, Nepal)
Incorporation of biodiversity indicators into ecosystem-service forest certification towards achieving synergy between biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest use. (Kyoto University)
This project empirically examined and resolved the technical issues of the “Forest Certification for Ecosystem Services (ForCES)” which was developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) by incorporating biodiversity-mapping techniques into the auditing procedure of ForCES in Indonesia and Malaysia to contribute to the sustainable conservation and management of tropical forest and biodiversity. In Indonesia, the ForCES approach which the project has advanced by incorporating biodiversity-mapping techniques has been applied to examine the Ratah Timber company to certify its non-negative influence on the local ecosystem, the first case in the world. The project results were also applied as one of the outcomes indicators of FSC Biodiversity Conservation monitoring.
(Photo: Group photos after the training session at Sabah University)
Theme C: Solutions to the challenges encountered by cities and residential areas
Strategies for adaptation to sea-level rise in urban atolls through conservation and rehabilitation of natural processes of island formation. (Ibaraki University)
This project aimed to develop environmental measures and technologies for the conservation and rehabilitation of sand production processes for healthy island formation as a means to counter rising sea levels in Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. It identified challenges in the wastewater outfall system and developed a sustainable wastewater treatment technology for atoll-island nations. With the development of monitoring methods of large benthic foraminifers, habitat distribution by UAV technology which contributes to easy and quick monitoring by various counterparts, local adaptation strategies were developed with various local stakeholders to develop a cross-sectoral administrative network.
(Photo: Flow of polluted water from the broken sewage pipe)
Theme D: Solutions to Challenges Regarding Women’s Empowerment and Gender
Improving maternal and child health and wellbeing through gender mainstreaming in Cambodia. (Tokyo University)
This project focused on neglected issues in health and welfare among women, children, and other caregivers under rapid economic development, change in the industry and employment structure, and female employment expansion, which had been seen in many low and middle-income countries, particularly in Asia. While the coverage of maternal, newborn, and child health services has been improved substantially in many low and middle-income countries, this project revealed that the coverage could differ by combining caregivers’ employment status and eligibility for the public health insurance scheme. This project had advocated the importance of addressing the issue of diversifying the types of caregivers. The research framework and checklist developed under this project enable monitoring the progress of health and wellbeing statuses related to diversifications of the type of caregivers.
(Photo: Discussion meeting with local health administrative officer)