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記事タイトル:Missions of The Foundation for Earth Environment in the 21st Century

Missions of The Foundation for Earth Environment in the 21st Century

Katsuya FUKUOKA

Chairman of the Board, The Foundation for Earth Environment; and

Professor, Rissho University Graduate School

Conversion to a New Sense of Values for the Global Era

Reconsideration of the relationship between humans and nature has become an urgent issue, as we are going into the global era, which is the era of thinking on a global scale, acting on a global scale, and creating a new civilization on a global scale. Now it is necessary to recognize that the earth is a living organism supported by the organic linkage and the balance among water, soil, air, greens, and other vital constituents.

During the 20th century, the economic activities of human beings disrupted the balance of material cycles (the mechanism of taking up resources and returning waste materials) between the ecological systems and the human systems. Combined with the massive energy consumption, this has been imposing much burden and damage to the earth. The fundamental cause of this disruption has been the amount of material demand of the modern civilization exceeding the resilience of nature, as well as the expansion of discrepancy inherent to the civilization pursuing benefits. Striking a note of warning against this situation, the Society for Green Civilization was established in April, 1985, as the first environmental society in Japan (the first president was Seiji Kaya, former professor at the University of Tokyo).

It is an undeniable historical fact that that the progress of humanity started from the independence from nature. However, various forms of environmental pollution and environmental destruction occurring nowadays are manifestation of the fact that the independence of mankind has resulted in excessive detachment from nature and undue arrogance toward nature, as the consequence of the progress of science and technology and social development.

The 21st century must be the time to overcome this crisis. For this end, it is necessary to achieve drastic correction of the sense of values held by people. We must recognize that life, as well as nature supporting life, is the foundation for all values.

In the global era, our starting point should be the awareness of the primordial love to nature, which is attained by combining the Western ideals of humanism and freedom, the Eastern belief in the unity of matter and mind, and the reverence for nature. From there, we should be able to create a new civilization allowing the happy coexistence of humans and nature. The materialistic civilization of the 20th century has lost sight of the value of the earth environment, which is the common assets of all living organisms.

The growth of population and the growth of economy resulted in the need for more resources. Materials are exploited in increasing scales, causing proportional increases in the amount of wastes. In particular, contamination with persistent compounds has been damaging even the autonomous functions of the earth itself as a living organism. In the global era, we must restore the material balance between humans and nature, which has been neglected in the market-oriented thinking, as well as reconstruct the systems of civilization and economy under the ideals of a rebirth of the earth.

We must expand the concept of ecology, so that it will be a new common concept encompassing both man and nature to replace old concepts and values. Realization of the "coexistence of man and nature" in the 21st century is the inevitable prerequisite for the bright future and true prosperity of humankind, as well as for the rebirth of the earth.

As the Pioneer of Global Environmental Protection in the 21st Century

To attain this great goal in the 21st century, all companies, citizens, and administrative organs of all countries and national/ethnic groups must share roles and responsibilities in a cooperative way.

The Foundation for Earth Environment was first organized as the Society for the Health of the Earth in 1985. Publishing a bulletin called "Aqua 21," the society proposed "international cooperation for the rebirth of earth environment" to a summit conference. It was a forerunner to propose a recycling society at Garbology Forum. In 1987, the society was incorporated as the Foundation for Earth Environment, which is a non-governmental organization (NGO) for the protection of earth environment, supported solely by private funds. (It is a public service corporation under the control of the Ministry of Environment.) Academic researchers in the field of environment, non-academic researchers, and specialists in environmental administration have been working for the research and survey projects of the Foundation. Themes of study included forest protection and adequate vitality, development of pollution control technologies, development of a system for overseas dispatch of environment specialists, treatment and disposal of wastes, promotion of recycling, and other urgent issues. Through these activities, the Foundation has been assisting environmental administration of the government. The results of these autonomous research activities have been published in "Research of the Environment of the Earth" reports.

The Foundation organized International Symposium on Earth Environment, Asian International Environment Symposium, and several other meetings in an extensive campaign that continued from 1986 to 1990.

In 1990, the Foundation cooperated in the world survey on environmental awareness conducted by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Taking charge of the survey in Asia, it conducted survey and compiled the results in Japan, China, and India.

In addition to the Foundation's own environmental research activities, it created a research grant program to foster development of a wide range of environmental study. Since 1990, grants have been awarded to openly solicited and reviewed study projects. The results of study have been published in "Research of the Environment of the Earth" to help promotion of environmental study. As a distinctive feature of the Foundation, it invites study proposals in the fields of forest and nature protection, environmental contamination and pollution control, and ecology civilization. The Foundation dispatched field survey teams on several occasions, such as the ocean pollution during the Gulf War in 1991 and the Second Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

With respect to specific measures for environmental protection, Environmental Measures Committee (later Clean Environment Promotion Committee) of the Foundation has been promoting programs such as wastes control (zero emission) and raw garbage control since 1992. (The latter program has been recording considerable success in northern Kyushu.)

In the field of environmental education, the Foundation has been making remarkable achievements in several programs since 1997, including a course on dioxin control, a training course for environmental ombudsmen, a training course for dietary specialists, a training course for environmental instructors (intra-company), and study of environment-friendly hairdressing and cosmetology. The monthly magazine "Earthian" has been published continually since 1987. The Foundation has been providing financial support and editorial assistance to the Japanese translation of "State of the World" since its first issuance.

While these activities are supported basically by membership fees, these are supplemented by the income from money trusts. Mitsubishi Trust Bank, Yasuda Trust Bank, and Mitsui Trust Bank are offering money trusts named "Chikyu Shintaku," "Kankyou Shintaku," and "Shakai Kouken Shintaku," respectively, since 1991 to support the Foundation.

In addition to these business activities, the Foundation has expanded the scope of business to include activities as an ISO 14001 and ISO 9000 accreditation body, establishment of Institute of LUCC and other research facilities, and cooperation with overseas research organizations. In this way the Foundation is going to evolve into a full-fledged NGO covering a wide range of environmental protection.

In the 21st century, the Foundation plan to conduct research and study projects, as well as proposals to the United Nations, aiming at international contribution to environmental protection in the global era. These include "Strategies and Plans for Restoration of Global Ecosystems," "Development of New Environmental Policies and Economic Systems through Introduction of Environmental Values," "Economic Development Plans and Environmental Protection Plans in East Asia," "Protection of Ecosystems from Environmental Pollution and Nonnative Species," "Reformation of Environmental Management and Recycling Economic Systems," etc. The Foundation invites the participation of many interested persons and organizations.

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