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An Overview

Today we live in a society of material abundance. It appears to be a prosperous society, but it faces many issues including climate change, declining natural resources, and food shortages. These global issues increasingly threaten our well-being and lives. They are rooted in excessive extraction of natural resources to support our overproduction and overconsumption. Accelerated climate change has been caused by massive emissions of greenhouse gases (such as CO2) into the atmosphere as a result of our production activities.

Having taken our natural resources for granted we have used them wastefully for a long time. Now, we have come to realize that our natural resources are not unlimited. Our planet Earth is much smaller than we thought. Today, we enjoy a modern lifestyle by sacrificing future generations’ share of the limited natural resources on our small Earth. The society built by overusing natural resources and destroying ecosystems is no longer sustainable.

Many countries in the world have recognized this reality seriously and have started taking actions toward more sustainable societies instead of seeking benefits only in the present.

Our lives are supported by natural ecosystems. These ecosystems consist of five interrelated elements ? soil; water; air; sunlight; and wildlife, plants and animals. Wildlife cannot survive without all the other elements in a healthy balance. Furthermore, complicated prey-predator relationships maintain the ecosystem balance. Clean water, food, medical products, and energy are also provided by healthy ecosystems. A natural ecosystem is the foundation of human life and is an essential factor for building a sustainable society.

It is clear that we need to protect and restore healthy ecosystems to build sustainable communities for the future of Japan. All stakeholders, including citizens, industries, local and national governments, need to recognize our current situation and take actions to achieve this goal.

In response to social demands, ECSJ, as an independent expert organization in sustainable community building, plays a major role in calling for actions and connecting different sectors. We are engaged in analysis of national and international practices, consulting, research, and outreach activities to promote sustainable cities in harmony with nature and tradition for future generations.

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