Proceedings of the UNESCO - University of Tsukuba International Seminar on Traditional Technology for Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Asian-Pacific Region, held in Tsukuba Science City, Japan, 11-14 December, 1995.
Editors: Kozo Ishizuka, D. Sc. , Shigeru Hisajima, D. Sc. , Darryl R.J. Macer, Ph.D.
Institute of Applied Biochemistry, University of Tsukuba, JAPAN
On behalf of the organizing committee of UNESCO-Tsukuba University International Seminar on "Traditional Technology for Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development in Asian-Pacific Region". it is my great pleasure to declare the opening of the Seminar.
Since the economic situation in countries and areas located in the Asian-Pacific region is getting more and more active, and directed to be industrialized quite rapidly, but in other direction the region includes a huge human population which is still increasing remarkably, the necessity of social restructuring in the region is becoming a big public concern.
In the past few decades, technology transfer has been carried out from countries which have succeeded in their industrialization to countries which are developing their industrialization to countries which are developing their industrialization. Meantime, introduction of so-called high-technology in wide ranges of not only secondary and tertiary but primary industries to societies of both developed and developing countries and areas has been intensively made, which results in prompt restructuring of their own traditional technologies.
Here, I would like to call your attention that utilization or adoption of technologies in general should not simply be evaluated by their efficient function and intrinsic performance. New technologies should be introduced in closed relation to economic and social activities of peoples as a whole, especially in consideration of their secondary and tertiary effects, namely social consensus in environmental conservation and sustainable development.
When our societies meet a new technology, sometimes they feel much annoyed about its introduction into them or sometimes they accept it very quickly with less understanding on environmental conservation and sustainable development. So, we better start to understand and evaluate what and how our traditional technologies are and their roles in our societies.
I am quite happy to inform you that delegates in various fields of sciences join in this Seminar from fourteen countries and area. We expect fruitful and successful presentations and discussion in this Seminar.
Finally I express my appreciation to Dr. Albert Sasson, UNESCO, Paris, for kindly offering to provide an opportunity to have a seminar. My sincere gratitude should be extended to Prof. Dr. Tatsuzo Koga, president of the Tenroku Foundation for his helpful support, due to which we succeed to invite a number of distinguished delegates from overseas, and also to Mr. Yukio Kiuchi, head of the international exchange section, University of Tsukuba, and the other members of that section for their heartiful cooperation.
I wish you will enjoy your participation and make an influential proposal in the name of this Seminar.
The Seminar comes at a significant time - when we, in the United Nations system are reflecting on what 50 years of United Nations life means, and when the world is gearing up to confronting the third millennium in four years, or as a more immediate measurement of time, after just 211 more weekends.
People have strange reactions to what are otherwise merely symbolic events. I have an animal photography book at home published just after the turn of 1900. This was a time when the world was enchanted with science and modernism, a time when the big issues were to do with exploring essences in art through cubism, essences of people through psychoanalysis, essences of the physical world through x-rays, essences of the universe through relativity theory. Animal photography was also exploring essences of animal behaviour, though with rather limited technological means at the time. What is charming about the book is that it presents photographs of the various forms of hide or cover that the author had to use to get close, an ox (with space for a person inside) being shouldered across the horizon by the author in search of a birdsnest to photograph, an artificial sheep in a field with a sheepdog confused about how to round it up. In the middle of the book which otherwise is a highly respectable scientific work by a fellow of the Royal Society however are a series of photographs of a daisy and a frog before midnight and after midnight at the turn of the century - as if it made a difference.
Centuries symbolize a major new age, in direct proportional impact to the coming of a new annual age symbolized in new year resolutions. A Millennium? Well, that's a different matter entirely. The last coming of the Millennium was accompanied by apocalyptic visions, revolutionary movements, and a belief that the world would almost shift on its axis - except that at the time, there was a general belief that it was distinctly flat.
We confront our Millennium with a very different set of parameters.
The enchantment with science for the good of all that characterized the turn of the 19th century and prevailed up to the time when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon - by courtesy of scientific and technological excellence, has eroded in favour of a view that is divided. Science has been too closely implicated in the weapons of mass destruction and in the manipulation of human interests and freedom. The boundless development that was envisaged in the 1960s, and was reflected in visions of the future where energy would be too cheap to meter, nuclear energy that is, and minerals would be obtained from space, has evaporated in the face of the spaceship earth that so dramatically was seen for the first time from space by the earliest astronauts of the 1960s. The environment is not what it used to be.
Meanwhile, we see cracks opening up in the globalisation of production where people are for the first time starting to seriously assert their rights to individuality and local cultural freedom - not just in ideological assertions and demonstrations, but in the marketplace.
The same kind of local cultural and ethnic assertion characterizes the most traumatic of conflicts emerging in Bosnia-Herzegovenia, Rwanda and through the former Soviet republics as we approach the millennium. This is an issue I will talk about more when I have the opportunity to speak with you on substantive matters later this morning.
In other words there is revolution in the wind as the symbolic event of the Third Millennium approaches. But, the revolution is one that reflects a world in need of balance and attention to the way we live our lives and are valued at home, rather than enchantment with scientific and technological progress as such, or systems that stand in front of our experience of the world.
Consequently, at a time when the 21st Century promises more Internet, more powerful computers, more electronic lines into the Global Village Marshall McLuhan envisaged 30 years ago, the mood appears to be swinging towards asking 'what is it all for'?' And into everyday discourse come phrases like 'empowerment', eco-friendly', 'eco-tourism', phrases that join what used to be countercultural philosophy with the marketplace.
But, meanwhile, and directly related, there is a sense that the Global Village is being increasingly overshadowed by the global toxic waste dump. The counter-image of the future is perhaps that we are safe if we stay inside , close the windows, connect with each other through Internet cafés - connect with other humans through a sealed air-conditioned underworld, joined by webs of technological wires that are themselves powered by external market and production forces, forces that seem at a personal level to be quite inaccessible.
It is in this context that the present Seminar is being held. Its focus - relearning from the past that we have rushed past to avoid.
I believe we stand on the edge of hope in this quest however, not depression. In popular consciousness and therefore, ultimately in the marketplace, 'flowerpower', the marginalised movement of the 1960s is now OK and expressed in mainstream products of The Bodyshop. Indigenous knowledge of tribal society is valued - as expressed in Sean Connery and Harrison Ford adventure movies into the tropical jungles to find cures for AIDS and other health scourges of the times. Even the European Union has recognized that it is unlikely to be competitive in standard agricultural crops, and is currently revitalizing an interest in the traditionally produced niche-market agricultural products that have been forgotten in the international drive towards standardization in everything, including genetic food stocks. The interest is in how traditional peasants produced these unusual food supplies - traditional knowledge.
And this is where this Seminar stands - within a quest to recapture what could be so easily lost - the ecological balancing properties of traditional technologies, drawing wisdom from a past we have so far not valued enough. And the time is right. It is the eve of the third millennium where global society is paying more attention to a new age with new dimensions of human engagement and long-term sustainability.
Such a quest is something that UNESCO supports. Ultimately our task within the United Nations system is that of a conscience and an organization of the world's intellectual capacity - across education, science, social science, culture, and communication. Our end goal - since the conception of the organization out of the traumas of World War II - is to foster the defenses of peace. At the core of both our means and our goals therefore is the maintenance of balance - between humans and the environment on which they depend, and on relations between humans as they produce together within the global economy. For in the tensions that creep into both these relationships lie the seeds of war.
The potential of this Seminar is therefore considerable. I would encourage you personally not to let it slip into the wastebin of used conferences and past experiences that one's academic curriculum vitae usually depend on.
Instead, I would encourage you within this Seminar to think strategically, not only about good things to do if only someone would pay attention, but of means of practical action that take account of the reality of the late 20th Century, the economic dynamics and politics that prevail, and target activities that can really make a difference.
We, in UNESCO, look forward to such conclusions as we can do something with them in terms of future support and expansion of this seminar's long-term impact.
You stand on the edge of the Millennium at a time when the world may really take notice. Treat this responsibility seriously.
Thank you for your attention. Congratulations on the Seminar. Good luck with the outcomes.
We are very proud to host such an important seminar on our campus. The University of Tsukuba has a history of being very active in research ad education of the topics included in the theme of this seminar. We have recently hosted a number of meetings on this topic, including the Tsukuba International Conference on the Sustainability of Rural Systems in August, and the Tsukuba Asian Seminar on Environmental Education, which was co-sponsorred by UNESCO. I am sure that you will find you have made a good choice for the Seminar site.
The University of Tsukuba was founded 22 years ago in 1973, as a focal institution in Tsukuba Science City which was then newly created in a mostly rural area with agricultural fields near the foot of Mount Tsukuba. The University as well as the City has made rapid growth since then. The environment on our campus has changed a great deal both good and bad. The planted trees have grown up tall and thick, and they now provide a very pleasant environment for the academic community, whereas the growing population and the accumulating socio-economic activities has been presenting problems of pollution. The pollution will never be confined to a local effect, it will be observed more widely and is seen as environmental deterioration in Lake Kasumigaura, which is located about 15knm east of the city. The University of Tsukuba therefore hosted an international conference on the management and conservation of Lake Kasumigaura in October. The conference revealed the need for more scientific research on a global scale. We have also organised a conference on global change and the polar climate in August.
This issue of environmental conservation and sustainable development has global and local features, as well as combining new cutting edge technology and local technology. I am glad to hear that we will have a unique opportunity to look at the issues from a regional point of view, the Asian Pacific region, and from the view of traditional technology. I hope that you will have a fruitful exchange of ideas at this seminar, and also that the conference will be successful. I hope that you will all enjoy your stay on our campus.
We are making every effort to facilitate the smooth functioning of this seminar, to ensure a pleasant visit for all participants. For those of us who have cooperated in planning this seminar, it will be our greatest joy if during this seminar today and the coming several days, all will be able to profit from listening to the opinions of others, and lively exchange of ideas. We hope to make this seminar as worthwhile an experience to all those concerned. I would like to end this word of welcome with an earnest prayer for the great success of this seminar.
Finally I would like to express our sincere thanks to UNESCO and the Tenroku Foundation for their financial aid to this seminar.