On 13 February 2020, UNU-IAS co-organised a symposium around the theme of “Creating Shared Value in Local Communities by utilising Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)”. The event was jointly organised by the Ministry of Environment Japan (MOEJ) and the Global Environment Outreach Centre (GEOC). The speakers at the symposium were representatives from government, experts, and local practitioners with a total of more than 120 attendees. The presentations and discussions highlighted successful cases on building up sustainable local communities through Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
In the opening remarks, Tokutaro Nakai, Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ), introduced the Ministry’s efforts to achieve the SDGs and to create Regional Circular and Ecological Spheres in Japan. He highlighted that these efforts focused on local communities and have been carried out through multi-stakeholder partnerships.
During the keynote presentation, Michiharu Nakamura, Counsellor to the President of Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and a member of the 10-member Multi-stakeholder Group, emphasized the importance of clarifying the role that STI can play to achieve the SDGs and integrating STI into national and local development strategies. He also stressed the importance of education and capacity building to ensure STI would not accelerate inequality.
Following the keynote presentation, three successful local cases were introduced. From Iki Island, Nagasaki Prefecture, Issei Shinohara introduced a citizen-driven project to achieve the SDGs. From Ishikawa Prefecture, Takashi Masuda from the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Technology and Ayumu Sugiyama from Yamanashi Prefectural University presented the process of building a local framework to update natural dyeing processes for yuzen (a traditional Japanese dyeing technique) into an environmentally friendly model by detoxifying dye wastewater. Koichi Murashita from the Hirosaki University Center of Healthy Aging Innovation presented their challenges to build a healthy aging community through utilising integrated big data and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
The panel discussion stressed the important role multi-stakeholder partnerships that can achieve a sustainable community through ICT. Panelists further emphasised the importance of taking a back-casting approach while sharing visions with stakeholders for creating a sustainable community.
Concluding the session, Kazuhiko Takeuchi, UNU-IAS Senior Visiting Professor, stressed the importance of applying the concept of STI broadly to bring a new sense of added-value to the community.