Second Future Earth Japan Summit Highlights Future Earth’s Role in Solving Societal Challenges in the Anthropocene

The Future Earth Japan Committee organized the second Future Earth Japan summit on 18 March 2022 with the theme, “How should Future Earth tackle the Anthropocene?”

The summit kicked off with an open webinar in the morning followed by a closed meeting in the afternoon. More than 200 people attended and addressed the significance and role of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Anthropocene.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Tetsuzo Yasunari, a co-chair of the Future Earth Japan Committee, emphasized the important role Future Earth plays in solving societal challenges in the Anthropocene and the need to continue our collaboration with various stakeholders to resolve key issues.

After the opening remarks, two prominent voices in the sustainability community gave key-note speeches.

Dr. Kohei Saito, Osaka University (currently at The University of Tokyo) and an author of “Capital in the Anthropocene,” discussed the contradictions embedded in SDGs. Dr. Saito pointed out SDGs have contradicting concepts of sustainability and development when society needs to consider how to stop the perpetual cycles of mass production and consumption under capitalism. He argued the need for urgent and drastic changes in societal systems to address the climate crisis.

Dr. Norichika Kanie, Keio University, spoke on the Anthropocene and the SDGs. He noted that SDGs were developed through “inclusive and transparent intergovernmental processes,” which were open to all stakeholders and adopted by all UN Member States. He also emphasized that the SDGs have a remarkable significance as “an agreement of all nations” that shows us the universal goals.

Dr. Taro Yamauchi, Hokkaido University and Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, moderated a discussion with the speakers, who agreed that both “degrowth” and “SDGs” share a common awareness of the issues behind them, and the visions for a desirable society. The discussion also explored how our society can create societal system changes and transitions to meet the well-being of the ecological system and human beings. The speakers also stressed the importance of transdisciplinary research, and that Future Earth is the right place to discuss how to achieve a desirable society by bringing various stakeholders together to accelerate transformations to sustainability.

The afternoon session was divided into three breakout sessions: 1) Future Earth and SDGs; 2) Future Earth and Anthropocene; and 3) Future Earth and Next Generation. Researchers along with representatives from companies, international organizations, local governments, NGOs, and younger generations participated in the discussion, introduced their latest activities, and exchanged opinions.

During the discussion, Dr. Fumiko Kasuga, Executive Director of Future Earth Global Secretariat Hub Japan, introduced the structure and the ongoing global activities of Future Earth, as well as ways to participate in Future Earth activities. Participants pointed out the need to promote collaboration between local governments and the scientific community, and the need for more dialogue with various stakeholders. They also discussed how to get involved in international policy-making processes as Japan Committee members. The discussion also stressed the importance of having more scientific discussions that promote behavior change for sustainable lifestyle in consumers and building a partnership with younger generations.

In closing, Ms. Yuriko Yamamoto, co-chair of the Future Earth Japan Committee, reminded the participants of the goal and purpose of Future Earth and expressed her desire to continue to work together with diverse stakeholders to create societal changes with a strategic perspective toward a future of the Earth.

*This event was partially supported by the AEON Environmental Foundation.

This article first appeared on the Future Earth website on 21 July 2022.