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Event summary: First AEON-Future Earth Forum

On 25 February 2017, The University of Tokyo Institutes for Advanced Study – Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S) and AEON Environmental Foundation organised the first AEON-Future Earth Forum, called "Generations in Dialogue: Environmental Sustainability and Human Health," with support of Future Earth and other organisations. AEON Co., Ltd., is one of the largest retailers in Asia, and the event marked the first initiative between Future Earth and the private sector in Japan. Approximately 200 people from diverse sectors and backgrounds joined the forum, including high school, college and graduate students, business leaders, representatives from academia, government officials and citizens.

The AEON-Future Earth Forum is a series of lectures that include interactive discussions between scientists and citizens on sustainability issues. The forum aims to deliver the latest scientific knowledge and to encourage discussions among participants about how to approach global changes and come up with possible solutions for the future.

A display booth at the first AEON-Future Earth Forum. Photo: Future Earth

The two main discussion topics for the first forum were the “Sustainable Development Goals” and “Health,” which correspond to two Future Earth Knowledge-Action Networks. To start the event, Mr. Takuya Okada, Chairman of AEON Environmental Foundation, and Prof. Takashi Onishi, President of the Science Council of Japan, gave opening remarks, which were followed by the introduction of the forum from Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Director of IR3S.

Prof. Yukari Takayabu, The University of Tokyo, Dr. Yoshihisa Shirayama, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), and Prof. Anthony Capon, University of Sydney, gave keynote lectures that provided the latest and most comprehensive information about atmospheric science, ocean research and planetary health. Dr. Fumiko Kasuga, Director of the Future Earth Global Hub in Japan, also gave a short presentation on Future Earth.

During the panel discussion, Dr. Seita Emori, National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) chaired an interactive session using a “clicker” that allowed audience members to vote on discussion topics in real-time. Ms. Megumi Wada, a student at Keio University, joined the panel as a featured speaker, sharing her experiences about making global environmental issues relevant to the public.

Prof. Kensuke Fukushi (IR3S) closed the event by summarising the forum. He emphasised the importance of interaction between scientists and citizens and the need for these groups to think together about how to make human societies and the world more sustainable.

A voice from a participant:

Mr. Fukuda (former school teacher)

“I feel a new sense of purpose towards the activities I’ve been engaged in for many years. I’m motivated to think and act more for the sustainability of our society and its future and look forward to living in an equitable, prosperous and sustainable world."

You can read the programme for this event here.