APN International Symposium on The Challenges of Global Environmental Change for the Asia-Pacific Region: A Scientific Assessment, 20 October 1999, Kobe, Hyogo Pref., Japan

Introduction

The first APN Global Change Symposium, supported by Hyogo Prefectural Government, was held at the Kobe International Conference Center, on 20 October 1999. Approximately 350 people attended including local citizens, business representatives and scientists, as well as international participants from the global change research community. Extensive media coverage was given by regional newspapers, radio and television.

The Symposium was divided into four sessions, and a short summary of each is give below.

Session 1. Opening

Following a short welcome by Mr. Hiroaki Takagi, Director of the APN Secretariat, Mr. Toshitami Kaihara, Governor of Hyogo Prefecture made a welcoming address on behalf of the local hosts. Mr. Hironori Hamanaka then made a welcome speech on behalf of the Environment Agency of Japan. Professor Keiji Higuchi provided the first talk, with an introduction to the work of the APN and the issue of global change.

Session 2. From Global to Local

The remainder of the morning session examined the major global change issues from the global, regional and local perspectives. Dr. Jill Jaeger, Executive Director of IHDP, outlined her view of the challenges presented by global change to mankind and the types of research necessary to address those challenges. A regional perspective was given by Dr. Prodipto Ghosh of the ADB who focused on issues related to greenhouse gas emissions in Asia. Finally, Prof. Akihiro Amano gave an overview of the Japanese Government’s approach to global change research.

Session 3. Causes and Impacts of Global Change: Case Studies

In the afternoon session, the four main presentations focused on some of the major issues within the region. Dr. Daniel Murdiyarso gave a perceptive talk on the effect of changes in land use on greenhouse gas emissions in Southeast Asia, and the possibilities for human intervention. The changing atmosphere of South Asia was introduced by Professor A. P. Mitra. Professor Patrick Nunn used some stunning slides to illustrate the changing world of the insular Pacific, focusing on reefs, beaches and islands. Finally, Professor Congbin Fu graphically illustrated the impacts of climate variability on life in Asia.

Session 4. Conclusions

Professor Roland Fuchs, acting as rapporteur, emphasised that the day’s talks and demonstrated how global change concerns more than just climate change. Land use and land cover change; changes in atmospheric composition; changes in chemical cycles; climate variability; change and degradation of coastal areas – all these are just some of the components of global change. Such change is not necessarily slow and we may be faced by sudden and catastrophic changes in the future. To learn to understand and respond to such changes the global scientific and political communities face a difficult challenge, one that will be greatly assisted by Hyogo Prefecture’s bold initiative in hosting the APN.

A lively question and answer session followed, with all the day’s speakers responding to points made by the audience.

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