Expectations for the Japan Awards for Biodiversity 2015
– Ryo Kohsaka
What do you think about the term, "biodiversity"? It is said that this word is not well recognized, or even its recognition might even be decreasing. However, biodiversity related activities at grass roots level have been expanding since the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD/COP10) in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan in 2010.
For example, small-scale group activities have gained social acceptance and the term is mainstreamed across different sectors. Regarding bird and animal damage which is recently attracting people's attention, only negative aspects have been focused on, but several projects focusing on its positive aspects from regional development viewpoints are moving along. In these projects, meat of birds and animals is used as high-value added ingredients for gibier cuisine, and status reports are applied for environmental education. In regard to recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, considerations for biodiversity have positively affected alleviation countermeasures and economic effects. Also, biodiversity provided opportunities for society to think about the bonds among lives, families and regions. Activities related to biodiversity making use of regional characteristics that are different from place to place have been steadily developed, even if these projects are not entitled to use "biodiversity" in their project names
In addition, original Japanese technologies or research and development which have different views from past cases have been developed by small and middle scale institutions, firms and research organizations. The media has contributed to the publicity aspect through movies and books appealing the importance of biodiversity. There are other projects cooperating with diverse sectors including schools and educational institutions. Biodiversity projects have diversified.
Then, what is "biodiversity"? The Convention on Biological Diversity has following three main goals: 1. conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); 2. sustainable use of its components; and 3. fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
In other words, we are not able to live without biodiversity. Therefore, it goes without saying that we must conserve biodiversity. However, what we have to do is not limited to the conservation of biodiversity. We use biodiversity in order to survive, but its use must be sustainable. Are environmentally considered agriculture, forestry and fisheries typical "sustainable use of its components"? Also, broad views being not limited to the conservation of plants and animals but also taking economic aspects into consideration are necessary to conserve biodiversity in concrete ways.
Diverse projects based on such broader perspectives are expected for the Japan Awards for Biodiversity in order to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
（Associate Professor, Graduate School of Human and Socio-Environmental Studies, Kanazawa University; Visiting Researcher to United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, Judge of the Judging Committee and Chair of the Working Group of the Japan Awards for Biodiversity）
*Activities of the awarded projects will be introduced through major newspapers and on this website.