Session 4

The Satoumi concept and management of Commons: An Integrated Approach, a link between land and sea and between nature and culture.

The implementation of a sustainable development policy is characterised by the convergence between three spheres of equal interest: economic, social and environmental. This implementation takes place through negotiations between actors, some of whom are described as “strong”, others as “weak” and some as “absent”. Among these “absent” actors are future generations and Nature insofar as the ecosystem is considered to be composed of communities of humans and non-humans. Hence the need to integrate into the definition of sustainable development the notion of “environmental governance”, the aim of which is to minimise the ecological footprints of all the uses that exert an impact on nature, as well as culture in the sense of the transmission of intergenerational knowledge and know-how. In Japan, “Satoumi” and “Satoyama” concepts take these aspects into account. 

The “Satoumi” concept was specified by Professor Tetsuo Yanagi of Kyushu University in 1998 and has been widely developed in the Seto Sea by the Satoumi Research Institute with the scientific and technical support of the EMECS (Environmental Management of Coastal Enclosed Seas) International Centre, which is the co-organiser of that Forum and of this session 4.

Four “Satoumi” experiments have been developed in Japan by the town of Bizen (and the village of Hinase) in Okayama Prefecture; by the village of Onna-son in Okinawa Prefecture; by the town of Minami Sanriku in Miyagi Prefecture and by the town of Otsuki on the island of Kashiwa in Kochi Prefecture.  

In France and more widely in Europe, this concept is similar to what is known as the “Integrated Coastal Zone Approach”, and is based on the academic, technical and practical experiences of the various stakeholders. 

More broadly, the concept of “Satoyama” refers to the harmony between Nature and Culture and places human activity in a framework that takes into account nature and future generations as full actors for the implementation of sustainable development. In this context, the transmission of knowledge and know-how between generations as well as environmental education take on their full importance.

Keywords: Satoumi; Satoyama; integrated approaches; environmental education; participatory science; link between nature and culture; sustainable development.