It is a great pleasure of mine to give an opening speech at this international conference. The conference is to celebrate the start of the Integrate Research System for Sustainable Science, that is to say, IR3S. Therefore, first of all let me say "Congratulations!" to all the members of the IR3S, in particular to President Komiyama who is the director general of the IR3S.
The 21st century is quite often pronounced as the century of the environment. It means the following two things. First, the global environmental problem will become more serious to the extent that it threatens the existence of human beings. Second, the challenge to preserve the environment is expected to work as a new driving force to accelerate economic growth, since innovation is one of the necessary conditions for economic growth.
It is also a great pleasure of mine that Kyoto University is going to be involved in the IR3S from the coming fiscal year. Kyoto University has many experts in the environmental sciences, environmental technology, and environmental economics, and hence, Kyoto University is one of the best institutions in the world to carry out integrated research of the global environment problem.
Our research group is named the Kyoto Sustainability Initiative. It aims at developing sustainable science under close cooperation with four universities involved in the IR3S.
As is well-known, the United Nations Conference of Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change （UNFCCC） was held in Kyoto in December 1997. What kind of century was the 20th century? One plausible answer to this question may be "the century of economic development and growth." Why has economic development has been so rapid during the 20th century? One plausible answer is that the rapid economic growth has been due to a succession of technological innovations. Why has technological innovation occurred in such rapid succession? One plausible answer is that human beings obtained two sources of energy: electric power and oil. Therefore, we can say that the 20th century was a century of electric power and oil. To put it the another way, the 20th century was a century of carbon dioxide emissions. By rapidly increasing CO2 emissions, we were able to attain such rapid economic growth in the last century.
It was quite noteworthy that at the end of the last century, of CO2 emissions, the Kyoto Protocol obliging developed countries to reduce CO2 emissions was signed at the Kyoto Conference. The Kyoto Protocol became effective on February 18th of last year. Kyoto is the well-known at the ancient capital of Japan, and now, Kyoto has become much more well-known to people of the world thanks to the Kyoto Protocol.
In my opinion, one of the most suitable research topics for Kyoto University is the global environment problem, especially the climate change problem. In order to tackle this topic, a transdisciplinary approach is indispensable. The KSI consists of 27 researchers from seven Research Institutes and one Graduate School, who are dedicated to bringing their expertise to this issue.
As President of Kyoto University, I strongly support the KSI. After four years' research I hope that the KSI will be an independent organization for research and education of sustainability science.