自然をつくる国日本 (Japan: Nation Building Nature) and the Center for Global Agenda (CGA) at Unbuilt Labs is pleased to co-host a workshop to examine our relationship with nature and natural objects. This has profound implications for sustainable development and global governance in the age of climate crises. How might we reimagine historic narratives around the conquest of nature and the consumption of natural resources? What are the agentic contributions of natural objects like forests, oceans, and rivers, to our everyday lives? How might it affect our attitudes towards environmental personhood, the idea that natural objects should be a holder of legal rights and have legally recognized worth and dignity? How might we manifest the desire to coexist with nature?

This 2-part workshop invites participants to use practice-based research, and in particular photo-elicitation as a tool to record and investigate nature and natural objects as actors in our everyday lives. What socio-political and personal meanings do we attribute to nature? How might our expertise and lived experience affect our interpretation of each other’s artifacts? We welcome everyone - artists, academics, students, and private as well as public sector actors, to join us in reconceptualizing nature and natural objects.


Part 1: 13 August 2022, 9am-10:30am Eastern Time (Online, Zoom)

The first part of the workshop will begin with a presentation by Joachim Nijs based on his research in Japan: Nation Building Nature (nai010 Publishers, 2021), in which he shows how idealized images of nature in Japan are, to a certain extent, modern productions. He demonstrates, however, that the Japanese views of nature also take shape in a concrete reality, reflecting – and responding to – demands of daily life. Further, he draws on literature from the arts, politics, and science, to show the ways in which Japan’s earthquake ecology, monsoon ecology, post-nuclear ecology, and island ecology have made an observable impact on the urban environment. In so doing, Joachim reveals how the conception of nature impacts our socio-political realities, and provides a conceptual framework for analyzing images.

We will then open the floor to guest speakers and invited artists (to be announced). We will also provide a brief introduction to digital photography for the everyday person so that public participants can engage with their own explorations. We will ask participants to upload their photographs together with one or two paragraphs describing their findings to the Public Forum for the Recommended UN Action Plan to Close the Compliance Gap (CCG) on the SDG16 Hub, a portal hosted by the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre, before Part 2 of the workshop in a week. The Public Forum can be accessed here: https://www.sdg16hub.org/group/center-global-agenda-recommended-un-action-plan-close-compliance-gap-ccg/about


Part 2: 20 August 2022, 9am-10:30am Eastern Time (Online, Zoom)

The second part of the workshop presents an opportunity for participants to share and discuss their findings. Select photographs and findings will be featured on the Center for Global Agenda webpage at Unbuilt Labs, and may be presented at an exhibition or gallery space. We hope to gather participants from different continents and all walks of life. We strongly recommend historically underrepresented individuals and communities to participate in the process. 


Guest Speakers and Invited Artists

To be announced



  • Joachim Nijs, Founder, 自然をつくる国日本

  • Marvin Cheung, Co-Director, Center for Global Agenda at Unbuilt Labs

  • Marguerite Van Cook, Co-Director, Center for Global agenda at Unbuilt Labs


Sign up on Google Forms: https://forms.gle/TUunVkR5m95CueXW9                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


For more information, please see:

Workshop webpage: https://unbuiltlabs.com/cga/workshop-nature-and-natural-objects-as-actors-in-everyday-life

Center for Global Agenda: https://unbuiltlabs.com/cga


About the Future of Global Governance Series

This workshop is part of the Future of Global Governance Series at the Center for Global Agenda (CGA) at Unbuilt Labs. CGA is leading the global stakeholder consultation process for the Recommended UN Action Plan to Close the Compliance Gap (CCG), a publication at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). We are pleased to co-host a series of public-access workshops with organizations that have consultative status with CGA and co-create guidelines for the publication. All participants will receive a Post-Workshop Summary as part of The Future of Global Governance Series Proceedings published by CGA. Submitted materials such as those in the Public Forum or public statements submitted to CGA may be quoted in the Summary. We are delighted to support Act4SDGs by the UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign through this Series. Highlights of our initiatives are available on our Act4SDG profile. We invite everyone to participate, study, reimagine, and co-create the future of global governance with us.


Workshop Poster 1Workshop Poster 2Workshop Poster 3