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Institute for Sustainability and Peace

The United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) seeks to achieve and promote a better understanding of the broad, intersecting themes that extend across three of the most pressing issues on the UN agenda. UNU-ISP takes an innovative, integrated approach to sustainability one that encompasses global change, development, peace and security. The Institute bridges these cross-cutting issues through research, educational and collaborative initiatives with the aim of solving current problems and anticipating future challenges. UNU-ISP works in collaboration with other UNU Institutes as well as through cooperative relationships with the global academic and policy-making communities. UNU-ISP, which became operational on 1 January 2009, was established to exploit the strengths of the former UNU Environment and Sustainable Development and UNU Peace and Governance Programmes, and to create transdisciplinary synergies that can more effectively address pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare. Within the context of sustainability and peace, UNU-ISP: Conducts research; undertakes education, training and capacity development; and facilitates the dissemination of scientic knowledge and information to the United Nations and its agencies, to scholars and to the public. Provides opportunities for postgraduate students and professionals to obtain a wider understanding of relevant issues. Integrates the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities into a transdisciplinary approach that contributes to the development and strengthening of policy frameworks and management actions at all levels.

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UNU-ISP aims at cross-fertilizing natural science and social science methodologies through teams working on institute-wide, cross-cutting themes. Its research, education and outreach activities promote integrated approaches to identify sustainable solutions to global problems, in line with the goals of the United Nations: freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity. In carrying out its work, UNU-ISP weaves elements of ecological security, human rights, governance and related issues into the following three thematic areas:

Global Change and Sustainability

Large-scale changes, resulting mainly from human activities, are affecting the global environment to an unprecedented extent and threatening the sustainability of ecosystems that are essential to our survival and well-being. The global change and sustainability focus of UNU-ISP seeks to clarify our understanding of sustainable development and the interaction among its constituent components (environment, society and the economy). The problems that are profoundly inuencing the global environment and sustainability cannot be resolved in isolation; they must be addressed in the context of the social and economic drivers that will shape future global population composition and consumption patterns. Hence, the programme emphasizes global change, which is broader in concept than global environmental change in that it encompasses human-induced changes to the biophysical environment as well as the evolving social systems and interactions that will determine the future directions of human development. One of the greatest challenges now facing humanity is climate change, and mitigating its adverse impacts is a top UN priority. Climate change involves not just the increase of greenhouse gases, but also such factors as growing amounts of atmospheric carbon from bio-mass burning and industrial and trafc pollution, and large-scale changes in land cover and land management practices that affect carbon storage and uxes. Changes in land cover and management also are leading to land degradation and loss of biodiversity, thereby affecting ecosystem sustainability. Mountains and drylands, as well as marine and coastal areas, are particularly vulnerable. Rapid urbanization is another major trend, bringing with it a host of sustainability and quality-of-life problems. This approach incorporates an anthropogenic-centred focus on sustainable development (development that fulls the needs of the present generations without endangering the needs of future generations) and an eco-centric perspective aimed at improving the quality of life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.

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Objectives: Strengthen the capacity of affected communities to develop strategies for adapting to and mitigating the adverse impacts of environmental change. Develop common, integrated approaches to enabling sustainable development while preserving ecosystems. Improve understanding of detection and prediction of factors of global change that affect sustainability. Priority Themes: Climate change and adaptation; Water and food security; Managing risks from disasters, pollutants, land degradation and deforestation; Rural and urban sustainability and linkages.

Peace and Security

Peace and security are the raison detre of the United Nations: its rst purpose, as laid down in the UN Charter, is to maintain international peace and security. UNU-ISP develops research addressing threats to peace such as violent conicts, human rights abuses, organized crime, the spread of diseases, the proliferation of weapons and terrorism. It further examines the changing geopolitical context and the challenges of climate change, economic globalization and interdependence. The evolving nature of conict has seen an increase in violent insurgencies that deliberately target civilians, recruit child soldiers and refuse to negotiate ceaseres. Some state actors also terrorize civilians, engage in asymmetric warfare and employ counter-terrorist strategies that violate human dignity. In this context, the concept of state sovereignty has gradually evolved towards the responsibility to protect people at risk, with human security displacing territorial security as a central concern. Post-conict situations are of particular concern due to the traumatic distortion of economic, political and social relations among groups and individuals. Even after wars end, enormous security and governance challenges remain. In all-too-many cases, ceaseres or peace agreements prove unsuccessful and give way to renewed and intensied violence. The concept of peacebuilding has developed sustainable, long-term approaches to peace, aiming to prevent divided countries falling back into violence. UNU-ISP develops research and education on these critical issues, engaging academic partners around the world. It applies forward-looking, innovative approaches that conceptualize peace and security in the broadest sense, integrating challenges such as climate change and poverty reduction. It publishes policy-oriented recommendations and identies longer term trends that have peace and security implications. Research ndings feed into education for researchers, policy makers and practitioners in the UN system.

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Objectives: Supply the UN system with timely and sustainable policy recommendations on pressing global peace and security issues. Develop knowledge on war and violence, achieve an understanding of conict dynamics, and offer guidelines for conict transformation and long-term peacebuilding. Develop integrated approaches to peace, development and human rights in a time of global change and a multiplicity of challenges. Priority themes: Modern nature of violence, civilian vulnerability and the responsibility to protect; Conict prevention, peacebuilding and transitional justice; The United Nations system and international law; Human rights, and cultural and religious tolerance.

International Cooperation and Development

Two key purposes of the United Nations, as stipulated in its Charter, are to develop friendly relations among nations and to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights. UNU-ISP develops research addressing under-development; under-representation in decision-making; economic and social inequalities both within and between states; and insufcient access to resources, healthcare, education, science and technology. The UN Millennium Development Goals provide a compelling platform for action to address these problems. But achievement of the targets requires a comprehensive and sustainable approach, encompassing issues of development, environmental change, peace and security. UNU-ISP regards the sustainable development and human rights agendas as a single integrated volume of knowledge that informs policies to achieve decency and human dignity. Recognizing the expanding roles and responsibilities of civil society and the private sector, UNU-ISP explores the opportunities for partnerships and international cooperation that they can offer. Multilateral international cooperation is crucial not only to draft and ratify agreements that regulate the economy, trade and nancial transactions, but to persuade states to comply with agreed-upon rules and to achieve development goals. While cooperation among states is usually well declared in statements, it is often not selfevident in practice. Continued recourse to unilateralism, orientation to self-help policies, deance of international law, and North-South confrontations all highlight the need for good governance and multilateral cooperation. UNU-ISP analyses the development of norms and institutions of international cooperation, and recommends sustainable strategies to address economic inequalities and challenges to multilateralism. As Africa is the continent historically most exploited and affected by economic inequality, and potentially the most

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vulnerable to climate change, UNU-ISP devotes particular attention to developing research and education on sustainable development in Africa. Objectives: Develop sustainable approaches to international development and trade. Achieve better social and cultural integration and gender equality, and contribute to international cooperation, rule of law, and respect for human rights. Engage in streamlining and advancing Education for Sustainable Development. Priority Themes: Sustainable development and promotion of benecial investment in developing countries; Good governance, accountability and anti-corruption; International cooperation: gaps and challenges to multilateralism and compliance with international law; Normative development, international institutional reform and the rise of global civil society.

Other Activities
UNU-ISP Postgraduate Programmes UNU-ISP offers a new postgraduate programme, the Master of Science in Sustainability, Development, and Peace. This two-year programme addresses pressing global issues of sustainability, climate change, development, peace, and human rights through an innovative interdisciplinary approach that integrates the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It provides students with the knowledge and skills to make important contributions towards solving global issues. Institutional Twinning The UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace will build up twin partners in developing countries by dynamically developing and engaging in activities in Africa and the AsiaPacic. A rst step towards such twinning relationships is a partnership with the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) located in Accra, Ghana.

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United Nations University Promoting science for human security, peace and sustainable development The mission of the United Nations University is to contribute, through collaborative research, capacity development and advisory services, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States. The UN University comprises a worldwide network of institutes, presently located in 12 different countries and coordinated by the UN University Centre in Tokyo.

United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace 53-70, Jingumae 5-chome, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-8925, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-5467-1212 / Fax: +81-(0)3-3499-2828 E-mail: / Website:
Cover Photo: Crispin Hughes / Panos Pictures Copyright 2010 United Nations University. All Rights Reserved. Document created on 2010/11/05

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