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The UNEP-Tongji Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development (IESD) was jointly established by UNEP and Tongji University on 9 May, 2002.
Mission and mandates
IESD aims to serve as a strategic think-tank for UNEP, an inter-disciplinary platform for Tongji University and to contribute for environment and sustainable development from three pillars: education, research and outreach. IESD has the mandate to mainstream sustainable development into higher education system, to promote research, education and South-South Cooperation in the environment field, to enhance the interface of science and technology to policy-making and implementation, and to provide tailored solutions to the Southern countries.
Education and capacity building cooperation with UNEP
With the guidance of UNEP, IESD served as the Secretariat of the Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES), through Ecosystem Division. IESD initiates, organizes and coordinates regional or global capacity building programmes for knowledge exchange and innovation, with specific focus on South-South Cooperation in the context of inclusive Green Economy and sustainable development. GUPES was rebranded to Youth and Education Alliance (YEA!) in UNEA-4, and IESD serves as its co-chair.
Cooperating with UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the Asia-Pacific Leadership Programme on Environment for Sustainable Development (APLP) is an annual flagship programme hosted by IESD, aiming to build capacity for emerging leaders from the Asia Pacific region on holistic sustainability thinking and evidence-based approaches for effective action. APLP is designed as a collaborative effort between Regional University Consortium on Environment and Sustainability (RUC) members, which includes University of New South Wales, Griffith University and Wollongong University from Australia, Yale University in the US, the United Nations University, the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, with Tongji University taking the lead. Since 2004, over 400 emerging leaders from 45 countries participated in this event.
Every year on the World Environment Day, Tongji organizes the International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability (ISCES) as a platform for young students from all over the world to share information, exchange ideas and build partnerships to tackle wicked environmental issues. The conference has been attended by more than 2700 students from over 50 countries.
Research cooperation with UNEP
IESD corporates with UNEP Science Division, and jointly published various publications, including Green Hills, Blue Cities: An ecosystems approach to water resources management for African cities, Green Economy textbook (Chinese & English versions), China-UNEP-Africa Cooperation: Enhancing the role of ecosystem management in climate change adaptation, and the Global Environment Outlook 6 (GEO-6). Among them, Prof. Ying Wang, the Vice Dean of IESD, served as the lead author of the Asia-Pacific youth edition of GEO-6. And Tongji University is one of the first universities in China to offer GEO courses for undergraduate students.
The 2015 IESD Board Meeting adopted a "two-track" strategy. On one hand, to develop IESD as a center of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and embed ESD in higher education system through South-South and Triangular Cooperation; On the other hand, to build IESD into a globally recognized think-tank to promote the science-technology-policy interface. Under this strategy, IESD actively cooperates with domestic and international public and private partners on educational, research and capacity building projects.