By Ranjeeta Mishra, JSPS-UNU Postdoctoral Fellow.

As a development economist and a researcher, I believe covering all developmental aspects there is my duty. However, I realize that understanding development comprehensively on issues such as but not limited to urbanization, economy, and food security must be intertwined with the analyses of their interdependencies as well. Bearing in mind these interdependencies was one of the foundations for setting United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This was also one of my motives for doing my post-doctoral research at United Nations University – Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). UNU-IAS does not only focus on specific goals of slum redevelopments, agricultural progress, nutrition and all their policy implications highly relevant to my area of interest, but also provides me an opportunity to interact as well as collaborate with researchers of various disciplines from all over the world, giving me a deeper look into development economics from various perspectives. This is undoubtedly a unique environment which has helped widen my horizon as a researcher. Thus far, it has been a fulfilling learning experience, and I can’t be more grateful for it.

But beyond that, another advantage of researching in UNU-IAS is its location. Being in Tokyo, Japan, the cosmopolitan nature has provided me with a chance to understand different culture as well as to contribute to its cultural diversity. In the past six months of my stay in Tokyo, I have learnt a lot about rich Japanese values and I am still discovering something new about Japan every day. The people here, whether in UNU-IAS or not, have taught me better humility and respect for other fellow human beings. I am also amazed by the fact that Tokyo happens to be one of the best-managed cities in the world. The well-planned development of the city encourages me to read more about how the city has developed daily over the time. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, yet it can maintain cleanliness as well as peace. I recognize it as an example of sustainable urbanization. For example, after a keen observation, I also realized that an average Japanese tend to not have excessive weight and are physically fit due to their healthy diet and regular manual exercises. This has made me more conscious of my health and food habit.

My research in UNU-IAS has focused on both the quantitative and qualitative analyses of various aforementioned issues, from urbanization to food security. Prior to that, I was working as an associate researcher at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project called System of Promoting Appropriate National Dynamism for Agriculture and Nutrition (SPANDAN), where I analyzed agriculture and nutrition-related issues based primarily on the qualitative data collected from surveys. My Ph.D. dissertation was on changing the morphology of slums in India in the post-reform era, an empirical study based on both primary and secondary data.

Should you be interested to ask about my research or my experience in Japan, please don’t hesitate to reach out.