• The Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (Ministry of the Environment, Japan)S-11/Beyond MDGs Japan Symposium – The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Transforming Japan and the World – Event report
  • Event|2016/01/20 posted.

    On 15 January 2016, Keio University and United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) organized a symposium on The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Transforming Japan and the World at the UNU Headquarters in Tokyo.


    Opening remarks were delivered by Toshiaki Makabe (Vice-President, Keio University) and Kazuhiko Takemoto (Director, UNU-IAS).

    Masaaki Kobayashi (Vice-Minister for Global Environment Affairs, Ministry of the Environment of Japan) pointed to three significant aspects the Paris Climate Agreement and the conclusion of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: they encompass a wide range of goals and targets; involve an array of parties including NGOs and business; and entail clear goals and targets which should stimulate learning and the dissemination of good practices.

    Atsuyuki Oike (Ambassador, Assistant Vice-Minister/Director-General for Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan) reviewed some of the key international negotiations related to environment and development in 2015. He noted that new types of ideas had been born out of the SDG formulation process and that due to their universal nature, the Goals would require new institutional structures to be implemented. He characterized the scope of the changes to being revolutionary in their implications, and provided a brief, but penetrating outline, of some of the questions that need to be posed including the kind of organizational system that should be created, how goals will be prioritized and linked, and stakeholders engaged.

    What are the SDGs? A Road towards Sustainability

    Norichika Kanie, Professor, Keio University / Senior Research Fellow, UNU-IAS / Project Leader of S-11

    Norichika Kanie (Professor, Keio University; Senior Research Fellow, UNU-IAS) provided a detailed report on the activities of the S-11 “Project on Sustainability Transformation beyond 2015 (POST2015)”. He noted the key facets of the SDGs including their three-tiered function of connecting the Goals to sets of targets and related indicators of progress. Thus while the goals may not be legally binding, implementation can be monitored and progress measured. The fact that metrics of progress can be measured over time is a strong incentive for performance when this becomes a topic of interest by the global public-at-large. He concurred with Atsuyuki Oike’s point that 2015 was a transformative year, and listed some of the unique aspects of the SDGs. In particular, thinking on sustainability has come to embed scientific research via the role of the Open Working Group process and the institutionalization of a new kind of discourse rarely before deployed in diplomatic documents. The process of policy formulation has come to be linked to scientific evidence via review and feedback mechanisms in new ways. Working groups and the potential for Information and Communication Technology to involve the general public are notable in this respect. Challenges of the SDGs, related to their sheer diversity embedded in the need for “national implementation” in the context of their universal application were highlighted.

    Keynote Speech

    Keizo Takemi, Member, House of Councillors

    Keizo Takemi (Member of the House of Councillors) delivered the keynote speech on the topic of human security approaches to global health. He reviewed Japanese initiatives with regard to the concept of human security, of which health is a core facet. An outline was provided of the dual strategy entailing empowerment and protection involved in the promotion of human security and links to the Abe Government’s initiatives on global health being developed for the May 2016 Ise-Shima G7 Summit. Prime Minister Abe’s Lancet article “Japan’s vision for a peaceful and healthier world” was highlighted. The conclusion drew attention to key aspects of the SDGs and their link to the concept of human security. This was taken to be evidence of the growing understanding among people around the world in line with approaches Japan has been promoting and thus as evidence of the long-term incremental impact of Japan’s global diplomacy.

    Stimulating panel discussions followed anchored to the questions of what is known about the SDGs (Panel discussion 1) and what Japan should do with regard to the implementation of the SDGs (Panel discussion 2). Panelists included academics, civil society representatives and members of the business community. The audience engaged with panelists posing challenging questions and a lively discussion ensued.

    Panel Discussion 1
    What do we know about the SDGs?


    Panelists of the panel discussion 1: Yuto Kitamura (Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo), Shunsuke Managi (Professor, Kyushu University), Hideyuki Mori (President, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)), Kaori Kuroda (Executive Director, CSO Network Japan), Shuzo Nishioka (Senior Research Advisor, IGES / Secretary General, LCS-Rnet and LoCARNet) and Sakiko Fukuda-Parr (Professor, The New School)
    Chair: Norichika Kanie

    The panel discussion 1 stressed the following points:

    • regarding the economic growth under the SDGs, the Goals could be used as economic development strategies mainly in developing countries;
    • the Goals require improvement of quality of economic growth, and such growth requires change in products and services, which would lead to new types of business;
    • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) could be an effective tool in the field of education to promote the SDGs in Japan; and researchers plays an important role in promoting the SDGs.

    •Yuto Kitamura, Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo

    •Shunsuke Managi, Professor, Kyushu University

    •Hideyuki Mori, President, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

    •Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor, The New School

    Panel Discussion 2
    What should Japan do in implementing the SDGs?


    Panelists of the panel discussion 2: David Griggs (Professor Monash University and Warwick University), Keiko Segawa (Director, International Strategy Division, Global Environment Bureau, Ministry of the Environment, Japan), Masahiro Kawatei (Associate Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility Department, Corporate Public Relations Division, Hakuhodo Inc.), Masaki Inaba (Executive Director, Ugoku/Ugokasu (GCAP Japan)) and Tomohiro Tasaki (Head, Sustainable Material Cycle Systems Section, Center for Material Cycles and Waste Management Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies)
    Chair: Kazuhiko Takemoto

    The second panel discussed the following issue regarding the implementation of the SDGs in Japan:

    • public involvement and consultation are critical in implementation of the SDGs, and special attention should be paid to the most vulnerable people;
    • it may be difficult for the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to work on corporate social responsibility (CSR) due to insufficient resources and funding, however it is possible for the companies to realize the SDG within their business; CSR activities should not be conducted only by the CSR department of the organizations, but all employees of organizations need to take ownership of it.
    • in the effective implementation of the SDGs, it is important to build partnerships across different sectors, such as researchers, business, NGOs and governments; and
    • it is critical for Japan to harness the opportunity for international dialogue available via the G7 process to foster discussion of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda more broadly.

    •David Griggs, Professor, Monash University / Professor, Warwick University

    •Keiko Segawa, Director, International Strategy Division, Global Environment Bureau, Ministry of the Environment of Japan

    •Masahiro Kawatei, Associate Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility Department, Corporate Public Relations Division, Hakuhodo Inc.

    •Masaki Inaba, Executive Director, Ugoku/Ugokasu (GCAP Japan)

    •Tomohiro Tasaki, Head, Sustainable Material Cycle Systems Section, Center for Material Cycles and Waste Management Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies

    The symposium was closed by Tamotsu Nakasa (Secretary General, Steering Committee of Beyond MDGs Japan; National Center for Global Health and Medicine).