Fw: Proclamation of 2016 as International Year of Geographical Understanding

2016年をIYGU(International Year of Global Understanding)「国際地球
られております。またFuture Earth をボトムアップで支えるものとして大


Dear Colleagues

I am absolutely delighted to forward you the formal press release (in seven 
languages- you may wish to forward the document in only one language of 
course depending on to where you send it) regarding today’s announcement, 
at the International Social Science Council meeting in Durban, that 2016 is 
proclaimed as the International Year of Global Understanding.  I should 
appreciate your forwarding this to your national press and other media 
contacts so that the important news can be spread as wide as possible.  This 
is a landmark day for the IGU - and an opportunity for us all to share the 
positive messages that the concept of developing global thinking and turning 
it into local action can bring about.

Congratulations to Professor Benno Werlen and colleagues who have worked so 
hard in order to bring this about,

For convenience, I copy the English version of the press release (y)
Mike Meadows

Professor Mike Meadows

2016 to be the International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU)

“Building bridges between global thinking and local action”

The International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social 
Science Council (ISSC) and International Council for Philosophy and Human 
Sciences (CIPSH) jointly announced today that 2016 would be the 
International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU). The aim of IYGU is to 
promote better understanding of how the local impacts the global in order to 
foster smart policies to tackle critical global challenges such as climate 
change, food security and migration.

“We want to build bridges between global thinking and local action,” said 
Prof. Benno Werlen of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany. 
“Only when we truly understand the effects of our personal choices ? for 
example in eating, drinking and producing ? on the planet, can we make 
appropriate and effective changes,” said Werlen, who initiated this project 
of the International Geographical Union (IGU).

How to translate scientific insight into more sustainable lifestyles will be 
the main focus of activities ? research projects, educational programmes and 
information campaigns ? for 2016. The project seeks to go beyond a narrow 
focus on environmental protection and climate policy and explore quality of 
life issues and the sustainable, long-term use of local resources.

“We live in the most interconnected world in history. Yet at the same time 
that world is riven by conflicts, dislocations and uncertainties - an 
unsettling and disturbing mixture of huge opportunities and existential 
risks,” said Lord Anthony Giddens, former Director of the London School of 
Economics, UK. “Finding a positive balance will demand fundamental 
intellectual rethinking and new forms of collaboration of the sort the IGYU 
offers” he added.

“Sustainable development is a global challenge, but solving it requires 
transforming the local ? the way each of us lives, consumes, and works. 
While global negotiations on climate attack the sustainability crisis from 
above, the IYGU complements them beautifully with coordinated solutions from 
below - by getting individuals to understand and change their everyday 
habits. This twin approach elevates our chance of success against this 
crisis, the gravest humanity has ever seen,” said former ICSU President and 
Nobel Laureate Yuan-Tseh Lee.

For example, on each day in 2016, the IYGU will highlight a change to an 
everyday activity that has been scientifically proven to be more sustainable 
than current practice. Primers on everyday life which take cultural 
diversity and local practice into account will be compiled and distributed. 
“Now more than ever it is vital that we find the strength to understand and 
relate to the positions, thoughts, and expectations of others and seek 
dialogue instead of confrontation,” said Professor Klaus Töpfer, Executive 
Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)

It is hoped that this focus on tangible, local action will generate ideas 
for research programmes and school curricula, as well as highlight best 
practice examples. Wherever possible, activities will be communicated in 
several languages. Using this bottom-up approach, the IYGU hopes to support 
and extend the work of initiatives such as Future Earth, the UN’s Post-2015 
Development Agenda, and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable 

“In Rwanda, environmental pollution through plastic litter was a widespread 
and intractable problem. Ultimately, the insight that plastic is harmful to 
ruminant animals, in particular cows, turned the tide in favor of 
environmental legislation. This led to a ban on plastic items that could 
cause litter. Today you’d be hard pressed to find plastic polluting public 
areas in Rwanda,” said Werlen.

The involvement of the ISSC, ICSU and CIPSH in IYGU underwrites broad 
collaboration across the natural and social sciences and the humanities, 
from across disciplinary boundaries and from all around the world.

In 2016, the IYGU program will be coordinated by about 50 Regional Action 
Centers. This network is currently being established and cities such as 
Tokyo . Washington, Sao Paulo, Tunis, Moscow, and Rome, while Beijing, 
Mexico City, Maçao/Coimbra, Nijmegen, Hamilton, Bamako and Kigali are 
confirmed as hoists of such Centers with their regional to continental 
reach. The IYGU General Secretariat in Jena, Germany coordinates these 
Regional Action Centers.

Further information on the International Year of Global Understanding is 
available at www.global-understanding.info. Prof. Werlen is available for 
further interviews upon request.