International Satoyama IntiativeUNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY UNU-IAS


The Satoyama Initiative

The Satoyama Initiative is a global effort to promote the revitalization and sustainable management of “socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS)”.

<Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes>

The term “SEPLS” originates from discussions carried out in the process of the “Japan Satoyama Satoumi Assessment (JSSA)”, a nationwide assessment of landscapes and seascapes in Japan in which the UNU-IAS took a coordinating role (click here for an edited volume presenting the outcomes of the JSSA, and here for a summary for policy-makers). The term has since been refined through further discussion under the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI). It refers to landscapes and seascapes where human habitation and production activities coexist with nature, with mutual benefits for both biodiversity and sustainable human well-being. While human activities can have many negative impacts on the natural environment, the Satoyama Initiative aims promote and expand practices with positive impacts through management of landscapes and seascapes with responsible and sustainable use of biological resources.

SEPLS are frequently characterized by dynamic mosaics of habitats and land and water uses (for example, farmlands, forests, grasslands, human settlements and fisheries) that have been shaped over the years by the interactions between people and nature in ways that provide food, water, lives and livelihoods, and nurture culture and traditions while helping to conserve biodiversity by providing a home for a multitude of species adapted to or dependent on the environment where human interventions such as agricultural practice continues. Examples can be seen in mauel  in Korea, dehesa in Spain, chitemene in Malawi and Zambia and satoyama in Japan (from which the Initiative takes its name). In addition to such traditional practices, there are also SEPLS where innovative efforts are being undertaken to revitalize and further strengthen landscapes and seascapes.

When managed effectively, SEPLS have the potential to contribute to various international efforts, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity‘s Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and national development plans around the world, while at the local level, they provide community members with a sense of their roots and identity as well as livelihoods and quality of life. In addition, they can contribute to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and natural disasters by increasing resilience at the landscape or territorial scales, and play in an important role in achieving connectivity/corridor conservation across wider landscapes by linking different protected areas.


<Development of the Satoyama Initiative and IPSI>

The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS, formerly the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies) and the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ) have together played an important role in the development of the Satoyama Initiative since 2009 when the UNU-IAS ISI project was launched. In 2009 and 2010, UNU-IAS ISI and MOEJ organized a number of workshops and meetings to discuss conceptual and practical aspects of the Initiative with experts from around the world. Among others, a Global Workshop on the Satoyama Initiative held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in January 2010 became an important milestone. The participants at the workshop produced the “Paris Declaration on the SATOYAMA Initiative“, which was the founding document that laid out the basic principles of the Initiative.

The International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) was launched at a side event during the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010. Since its launch, UNU-IAS ISI has been serving as the IPSI Secretariat.

The following diagram was developed during the preparatory meetings in 2009 and 2010 to illustrate a conceptual structure for the Satoyama Initiative, and has since been updated to reflect developments under IPSI.

For more information about IPSI and its activities, please visit the IPSI website.