Table Speech

“Society for Sustainable Development”

March 24th, 2004

Mr. Hiroyuki Yoshikawa
Head of the Industry and Technology Consolidated Research Laboratory

The guest speaker for the meeting of March 24 was Mr. Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, Head of the Industry and Technology Consolidated Research Laboratory, an independent administrative entity, who spoke on a “Society for Sustainable Development”: The term “sustainable development” derives from its being mentioned as a core concept in the report, “Our Common Future”, issued by the UN Environment and Development World Committee in 1987.

I believe that this term was not born from science, but from the world of politics and common society.

Its roots can be traced back to 1972 when the UN meeting on the Human environment took place, when a Declaration was made regarding environmental pollution and the diverse forms of life on this planet.

Again this issue was raised by a UN conference on economy and society, and it was pointed out that the problem was strongly related to science and technology.
At the 1992 world summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro sustainable development became the core concept for the conference, and politicians, businessmen and scientists discussed the issue on a broad front.

The agenda 21 issued by the Rio summit exhorts all concerned to put into practice methods for sustainable development and has had an influence on national policies henceforth.

At this meeting the FCCC (Framework Convention on Climate Change) was signed, resulting in the Kyoto Protocol for which we are struggling.

In December 1977, a meeting was held in Kyoto and global warming was discussed.

In 2002, at the Johannesburg Summit a study was made of how far the aims of Agenda 21 had been achieved. I attended the meeting, and we heard that CO2 had increased, our coping with life on earth had not bettered, and on the whole the report was negative. The bright spot was news that science and technology had made great strides in this direction.

The concept of the ‘Green House Effect’ emerged in 1820, and the effects of CO2 had been pointed out in the 19th century. A warning on its danger was given in the 1950’s. At the 1972 UN conference on environmental pollution this matter was not noted.

In 1985, a meeting of international scientists in Austria issued a warning in this respect which was held up by the 1987 UN Committee mentioned above.

The contents of the 1987 UN meeting declaration “Our Common Future” does not say that we will be able to continue to develop, but tells us that unless we work hard to achieve our environmental goals, we will fail in our efforts.

In order to close the gap between the developed nations and developing ones, we must help develop their economies. By increasing production, the amount of pollution will increase, and this is a problem which we are unable to solve.

However, scientific technology may help us solve the issue.

Scientists held a world conference in Budapest in 1999 and issued a statement, 1.Science must develop the knowledge needed for social advance 2. Science must be for peace 3.Science must be for the developing nations 4.Science must contribute to society.

This view of science as a force to combat men’s common problems, is an entirely new concept. Hitherto the concept of science was that by each scientist pursuing his curiosity, he could contribute to man’s common knowledge thus helping society to develop.

In Japan, many firms have taken into consideration advanced means for a sustainable society, but it seems our government still lacks a scenario to realize this.