On 15 December 2016, UNU-IAS and the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ) jointly organized the Symposium on Achieving Sustainable Local Communities through Partnerships with the Private Sector and Local Governments: Best Practices for the SDGs.
This symposium shared best practices and challenges in achieving sustainable local communities, and discussed the kinds of partnerships that can be developed between the private sector and local governments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in local communities in Japan.
Following opening remarks by a representative of the Government of Japan, Kazuhiko Takemoto, Director of UNU-IAS, delivered a statement emphasizing the importance of mainstreaming SDGs in business. In addition, he highlighted the role of the Global Environment Outreach Centre (GEOC), which just marked its twentieth anniversary, in furthering multi-stakeholder partnerships.
In the keynote speech, Mariko Kawaguchi, Senior Analyst, Management Strategy Research Department, Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd., highlighted the merits of utilizing SDGs in regional revitalization strategies for communication. With the SDGs as a global common language, local communities can network internationally by taking account of the SDGs.
Following the keynote speech, best practices from Kanazawa city (Ishikawa), Yakumo city (Hokkaido) and Minamisanriku city (Miyagi) were presented. Yasuo Tsukamoto, Vice Director of Junior Chamber International (JCI) Kanazawa, introduced fundraising activities related to Goal 6 of the SDGs.
In the case of Yakumo city, Kazuo Tase, Director of the Global Management Institute, Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting, presented their proposal to the city to incorporate the SDGs in the comprehensive plan. He pointed out that most local issues are addressed in the SDGs and stressed the importance of looking at linkages and connectivity of elements which account for the sustainability of local communities.
In the case of Minamisanriku-cho, Masahiro Kawatei, Associate Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility Department, Group Public Relations; Investor Relations Division, Hakuhodo Inc., introduced relationships between the SDGs and the reconstruction initiative from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake to develop new brands and industries by utilizing local resources. He stressed that public-private partnerships are the key factor to advancing the initiative.
The panel discussion chaired by Norichika Kanie, a UNU-IAS senior researcher, discussed challenges in application of the SDGs in local communities. The panelists stressed the need for local communities to interpret the SDGs in their own contexts and then incorporate them into their strategies. Also, the discussion highlighted the importance of a bottom-up approach led by local citizens.
In closing remarks, Kazuhiko Takeuchi, UNU-IAS Senior Visiting Professor, summarized the symposium by stressing that reflecting one’s own narratives through the SDGs is essential to utilizing them.