The seventh annual International Forum for Sustainable Asia and the Pacific (ISAP) held in Yokohama, Japan this July focused on the impacts of climate change and the need for building multi-stakeholder partnerships to respond to it. With the majority of the world’s human population as well, as a huge share of its biodiversity, it’s clear why the stakes are so high for the nations of Asia and the Pacific.
The forum highlighted the use of partnerships – across different nations, sectors, and cultures – as a means to face the challenges a changing climate means for the regions and for the world. Keynote Speaker Jeffrey Sachs from the Earth Institute at Columbia University in the United States commended host nation Japan’s efforts towards sustainability, highlighting the contributions of the Japanese government, business community, and people in their efforts on energy efficiency, urban planning, and protection of ecosystems. Sachs also highlighted societies around the world had a long way to go in tackling sustainability challenges, and that much of this would require attitudinal change in addition to changes in policy and technology. When asked about a recent article in The Economist lamenting the cost of implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda, Sach’s replied “4% of the world’s GDP for clean air and water, an equitable global society, and a future for our descendants? What a bargain!”
The plenary sessions echoed Sachs’ sentiment – showcasing the innovations developing in policy, knowledge, and technology, and stressing the need for a sea change among citizens and governments to works past historic differences to create synergistic sustainability efforts throughout the region. Parallel sessions covered topics such as the low-carbon technology and energy, building resilient cities in the region, and the role of greenhouse gas inventories for bridging the science-policy gap.