By C40 Cities
Fumiko Hayashi has been mayor of Yokohama since 2009 and is the first woman to hold the post. Her previous roles have included president of BMW Tokyo, president of Tokyo Nissan Auto Sales and chairperson and CEO of the Japanese supermarket chain Daiei.
In 2006, Forbes magazine named her 39th most powerful woman in the world, the highest rank for a Japanese woman. Ms. Hayashi is the president of Mayors Association of Designated Cities in Japan and also serves as the member of the Council for Gender Equality of the Cabinet Office of Japan. She has also written several books on management and workforce relationship.
C40 Cities had the chance to connect with Hayashi to learn more about her efforts:
Q. What has been your biggest climate or environmental achievement as mayor?
A. Yokohama has implemented urban development in cooperation with various stakeholders such as citizens, companies and other groups, overcome many environmental issues and promoted city development that harmonizes the environment and the economy. In dealing with climate change, we are promoting efforts that take advantage of our achievements in urban development up until now.
With regard to energy issues in particular, through the Yokohama Smart City Project, in collaboration with 34 major Japanese companies, we are aiming to realize an advanced, energy-circular city with systems aimed at optimizing the balance between energy supply and demand in existing urban areas such as by introducing the Home Energy Management System in 4,200 homes and improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. We were well-received at C40 and awarded the C40 Cities Award in the Clean Energy category in 2016. Behind this was the fact that ours are some of the world's leading large-scale projects in existing urban areas.
Q. What are the key climate change and environmental challenges facing your city? What are you doing to address them?
A. Developing the city to be low-carbon and disaster-resilient. With 3.73 million citizens and more than 110,000 businesses, Yokohama is a major city and a major energy consumer. The key is solving issues and for this, not only the government but also the power of our citizens—which is the pride of Yokohama—and the technical expertise cultivated in the public and private sectors have become major strengths. As a "FutureCity," we will continue to work hand in hand with citizens and companies.
Q. Were there any women leaders who inspired you when you first entered politics?
A. A woman leader I was inspired by is Sadako Ogata, who helped provide humanitarian aid for many years as Japan's first UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Even as ethnic and religious conflict was intensifying, I was impressed with the way she visited these various locations and flexibly built new support frameworks through her strong leadership. I met her in person when she was serving as president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and she was a wonderful woman with a strong will, heart-warming humanity and overflowing hospitality.
On the other hand and much regrettably, the participation of women in Japanese politics seriously lags behind. Even at present, it represents no more than 1.6 percent overall, with only 28 women leaders of local governments. Having women in leadership positions can help deepen men's understanding of working women and promote a society in which women can participate more. I view this as my mission, after having worked for more than 50 years in an androcentric structure and is why I took up politics.
Q. What obstacles do you think women leaders still face in delivering their agenda, including on climate change?
A. Being a woman will not be an obstacle in implementing the agenda. The strength of women lies in leadership that employs empathy and acceptance. Better results are produced by men and women taking advantage of each other's strengths, coming together and producing results in tandem. Therefore, I believe that women's ability to demonstrate their capabilities in all areas, including climate change countermeasures, will yield great results. Under the leadership of C40 Chair Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, we will deepen the unity of C40 member cities and continue to work to implement climate change countermeasures.
Q. What advice would you give to young women in Yokohama—or any other city—who are concerned about climate change and want to do something about it?
A. Climate change is a complicated and very difficult issue occurring on a global scale and is caused by a variety factors. It is critical to think about this global issue with a broad perspective but also in terms of what can we do in our own everyday lives and what is to be done in society as a whole—thinking together with numerous people and putting into practice what is initially possible. I expect much from today's young women.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
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The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.