Sustain Cafe

Feb.7th Sustain Cafe with Prof.Thomas Elmqvist

Site Administrator Sustain Cafe February 7, 2017


Urban areas as complex social-ecological-technological systems:

How do we address resilience and sustainability?

GPSS-GLI welcomed Thomas Elmqvist, a visiting professor at IR3S from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, for a memorable Sustain Cafe on February 7th, 2017.

Thomas began the session with the fact that 60% of urban infrastructures is yet to be built. Moreover, the 11th of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” is one through which all of the other SDGs could be addressed. The emerging conceptualization of urban areas as social-ecological-technological systems integrates built and living systems in the city and has the potential to address these needs with nature-based approaches and more holistic, socially inclusive, and ecologically sound urban development.

The latter part of the lecture delved into his ongoing conceptual discussions of resilience and sustainability. Though often used interchangeably, “resilience” is a descriptive term, while “sustainability” is generally normative. Thomas made clear distinctions between these terms and shared his proposal of a new conceptualization of resilience more fitting for urban contexts. As both terms have been central to discussion in GPSS-GLI, the subsequent discussion was rich in thought-provoking questions, and sure to influence many of our thinking within our respective research projects.


Post 3/11: Health & Research in Fukushima

Site Administrator Sustain Cafe June 27, 2016




Last March 11 2011, a triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident struck Fukushima and ever since, the interest on health issues and research progress in the area has been growing. This July 7, three medical and research experts from the said prefecture were invited by the University of Tokyo’s Graduate Program on Sustainability Science to discuss these topics of interest.Dr. Akihiko Ozaki, a surgeon based in Minamisoma City, will will give an overview of health issues after Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, and will present what we can learn from breast cancer cases in this disaster setting.Dr. Toyoaki Sawano, a training surgeon, will talk about health of decontamination workers in Fukushima- an extremely vulnerable population. Lastly, Ms. Claire Leppold, a researcher at Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital will present lessons learned from life in Fukushima and gives an overview of ongoing projects, closing with advice for students who want to become more involved in research.



health, research, fukushima, great east japan earthquake


Time and Place

July 7, 2016; 16:00-18:00 at 3rd floor lounge, Environmental Studies Building



The event is open to everyone.

Please register to attend the event!

Sustain Cafe: Sustainability in Africa

Rene Castro Sustain Cafe June 10, 2015

by: Gideon Baffoe & Yasuko Kusakari

Dr. Orleans Mfune

Dr. Orleans Mfune

Two young scholars from Africa were invited for the session of Sustain.Cafe. They were Dr. Divine Fuh from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and Dr. Orleans Mfune of University of Zambia, Zambia. The session was under a broad topic “Sustainability in Africa”. Dr. Fuh discussed the sustainability of everyday life in the context of South Africa and Cameroon, while Dr. Mfune examined current implementation of REDD+ in Africa by looking at the potential winners and losers.

A key point in Dr. Mfune’s presentation was that REDD+ is rather hurting the poor, as it deprives them of their only asset (natural capital) to make a living. Issues of compensation, resource ownership and governance are not clearly spelt out. According to Dr. Mfune, REDD+ is not the ultimate solution to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission as purported. He described it as “neo-colonialism in Africa”.


Dr. Divine Fuh

Dr. Fuh discussed sustainability as an embedded trait in mankind by stating “People are naturally sustainable in their lives even though they do unsustainable things”. He pointed out that people naturally dream and, as a result, anticipate future uncertainty and continuity. The ability to sustain people’s capacity to anticipate uncertainty, precarity and urgency, is what sustainability seeks to achieve. Dr. Fuh’s lively talk triggered a number of questions such as “how are people able to dream in their current daily struggle to survive?” and “should survivability be equated to sustainability?” These, among others, were some of the concerns that generated interesting perspectives from participants.