Research Team

  • Kazuhiko Takemoto

    Director of the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS)

    Dr. Kazuhiko Takemoto is the inaugural Director of the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). He brings to the position some four decades of comprehensive experience in environmental policy development and research management, and as an international environmental diplomat.

    Since 2010, Dr. Takemoto has worked with the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies as a Senior Fellow and Programme Director, overseeing the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and International Satoyama Initiative (ISI) and the Institute’s Operating Unit Ishikawa Kanazawa. He has also acted as Programme Leader of the Fukushima Global Communication programme of the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace.

    Prior to joining UNU, Dr. Takemoto held a variety of environment-related positions in the Japanese Government, most recently serving (2008–2010) as Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). In that role, he was responsible for developing national strategies for international negotiations on global environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and trans-boundary air pollution.

    Dr. Takemoto previously had served in MOE as Director-General of the Environment Management Bureau (2005–2008), Deputy Director-General of the Global Environment Bureau (2003–2005), and Director of the Waste Management Division (2002–2003). Before that, he worked in MOE’s predecessor, the Environment Agency, in various posts, as well as with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Austria; 1995–1996), The World Bank (1989–1992), and the Shizuoka Prefectural Government (1980–1982). He also has served as Vice-Chair of the OECD Environmental Policy Committee, as Co-Chair of the Ministerial Round Table of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), and as Director of the Secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN).

    Dr. Takemoto holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from The University of Tokyo and a Master of International Public Policy degree from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. He recently received a PhD degree from The University of Tokyo.

    Sam Johnston

    Senior Research Fellow

    Sam Johnston is an Australian national. He has degrees in chemistry and law and is a qualified lawyer in the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia.

    Before joining the UNU Institute for Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), Johnston worked at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where he has held a variety of positions, including secretary of the second meeting of the SBSTTA, acting Principal Officer for Implementation and Communication, and acting Legal Advisor and Programme Officer for Financial Resources and Instruments. He also represented the Executive Secretary of the Convention at a wide range of diplomatic and academic conferences, including the United Nations General Assembly, Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization and the Global Environment Facility’s Participants Assembly.

    Prior to the Secretariat, Johnston was the Jacques & Lewis Research Associate in the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge (U.K.), the legal manager at Société Générale Australia Ltd and a solicitor at a major Australian commercial firm of attorneys.

    At UNU-IAS Johnston works as Senior Research Fellow and his principal responsibilities are to provide strategic guidance to the Director regarding the research priorities of the Institute, develop new research activities for the Institute, and assist with fundraising efforts.

    He has have raised over $12 million in research funding from governments, international organizations and philanthropic organizations.

    Catherine Monagle

    Senior Fellow

    catherine_monagle_portrait_bw Catherine Monagle (BSc/LLB(Hons)/LLM) is an international environmental lawyer with several years experience working within the United Nations system, including for the United Nations University and the United Nations Regional Commission for Asia and the Pacific. At the national level, Catherine has experience in undertaking complex legislative reform processes from within government.

    Catherine has particular expertise at the intersection of international law, natural resource management, biodiversity, genetic resources, climate change, traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights, and has an interest in science in environmental regulation. In these areas she has advised governments, international organizations and NGOs. Catherine acted as Secretary of the Expert Taskforce on Global Knowledge Governance undertaken by the Global Economic Governance Programme of Oxford University. Among other activities she has also reviewed legislative frameworks for the protection of the marine environment, and worked with traditional owners in managing intellectual property rights and interests in the context of biodiversity and natural resource management in the North of Australia.

    An Australian national, Catherine graduated with degrees in science (ecology and evolutionary biology) and law from Monash University, and undertook studies in international law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Catherine holds a Master of Laws from the Australian National University and is admitted to legal practice in Australia.

    Rahera Noa

    Rahera is from the Atihaunui-a-Paparangi, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Nga Puhi and Hauraki tribes (Maori) of the North Island of New Zealand. She has degrees in Spanish and law and is a qualified lawyer in the High Court of New Zealand. Rahera is currently working at the United Nations University working on global indigenous traditional knowledge projects including savanna fire management practices.

    Rahera’s prior experiences include working in the international non-government organization space on indigenous issues including eye health, the New Zealand Government in the areas of operational policy and auditing with a particular focus on capacity building initiatives for Maori communities and Amnesty International in San Jose, Costa Rica. Rahera has travelled to more than 40+ countries and lived in various countries including New Zealand, Canada, Costa Rica and Japan.