March /2017
(Panoramic View Reports)
Panoramic View of the Environment Field (2017)/CRDS-FY2016-FR-03
Executive Summary

The environment field is defined as the research and development (R&D) field to maintain and develop harmonization for human and nature by understanding the physical space and ecosystems that interact with people as a system, and predicting and coping with not only obvious events but also possible events. The panoramic view survey was conducted based on four categories which are "Climate change", " Environmental pollution and health", "Biodiversity and ecosystem", and "Circular society". And then 15 key R&D areas were extracted to grasp the trend. Trends and topics of R&D, R&D issues, and international benchmarks were organized.

Comprehensively judging from the international trends and policies for R&D, the main trends of world R&D in the environment field are summarized in the following six points.

  1. Integration
    1. Development into integrated research including climate change, pollution, ecosystems, resource use, etc.
    2. Incorporating related elements to the Earth System Model (ESM)
    3. Reflecting the concept of Food-Energy-Water Nexus
    4. Reflecting the concept of sustainability considering environmental, social and economic aspects
  2. Large and long
    1. Dramatic improvement of information quality, quantity, and type by satellite observation
    2. Grasping health effects by utilizing human activity data and earth observation data
    3. Birth cohort survey and grasping exposome
    4. Global dynamics model of harmful substances such as Mercury
  3. Advancement
    1. Focus on AOP (Adverse Outcome Pathway) due to progress of metabolic research and analytical techniques
    2. Deep understanding of material cycling through progress of isotopic research
    3. Recognition and countermeasure to new pollutants such as PPCPs(Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products) and microplastic
    4. Improvement of recycling technologies including sorting technology
  4. Visualization
    1. Conducting model comparison, downscaling, ensemble simulation
    2. Quantitative evaluation of ecosystem services
    3. Database construction and database linkage for recycling technology, visualization of material flow
    4. Development and application of impact assessment techniques on social aspects in addition to environmental aspects
  5. Networking and sharing
    1. Establishment of observation networks of satellites and ground stations, and data sharing
  6. New approach
    1. New approach to analyze the results from many models under the fixed one condition

Based on the abovementioned and the social and economic trends as well, the contents of R & D in the environmental field to be tackled by mainly universities in Japan now are addressed hereinafter;

  1. Integrated R & D implementation
    Development into integrated R&D dealing with all relevant elements such as climate change, environmental pollution, health effects, ecosystem management, resource use, recycling, economy, and society, etc.
    1. Clarification of tradeoff between countermeasures and of synergy effect between them
    2. Visualization of multifaceted impact and value including social aspects, reflection on the economy and society
    3. Utilizing earth observation data and big data including earth and social data
    4. Grasping exposome (lifetime exposure to chemical, physical, biological, mental, and social environmental stress)
    5. Sustainable resource utilization of land, water, plant, and marine creatures.
    6. Advancement of resource recycling research and element technologies, systematization of such element technologies
      (For water, rare resources, waste plastics, materials and equipment expected to increase)
  2. Development of climate system model and climate change impact prediction model
    1. Improvement of prediction accuracy (incorporation of diverse elements including human activities for both of EMS and impact prediction models, and improvement of TCRE evaluation accuracy and advanced marine ecosystem model for EMS, etc.)
    2. System development to support data storage, distribution, analysis, and model coupling
    3. Downscaling and ensemble simulation
    4. Strengthen impact prediction and evaluation, and its target expansion
    5. Prediction and evaluation of the environmental changes except aforementioned items
  3. Cost reduction and labor saving of observation and evaluation
    1. Development of observation methods that are efficient, trouble-free and statistically superior
    2. Promotion of AOP (Adverse Outcome Pathway) research
  1. Issues in systematic aspects are addressed hereinafter;
    1. Continuity of monitoring and system development, maintenance and enhancement of research platform (satellites and observation vessels) (Data accumulation by continuous observation for long-term is strongly required to deploy R&D deeply.)
    2. Systematization
    3. Expansion and enhancement of computational resource
    4. Technological evaluation and risk assessment for social acceptability
    5. Database of technological resources