Reconsidering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Okayama:Symposium and Workshop Held

September 21, 2017

Okayama University organized a symposium and a workshop entitled “How Universities as Members of Society Should be Thinking: Through the UN Sustainable Development Goals” from 31st August to 1st September together with the Science Council of Japan Young Academy. Through the two-day event, participants discussed how science and academic knowledge can contribute to the SDGs and how the advancement of the SDGs should be pursued based on diverse local contexts including that of Okayama. Finally, the workshop adopted a Recommendation as an outcome, which noted the following four central issues:
 Acknowledgement of the roles of science and local culture in the advancement of SDGs;
 The need to increase the spaces for dialogue among experts with diverse backgrounds;
 The necessity for academic society to appreciate and value the contribution of academics to research and other actions to contribute to the SDGs;
 The restructuring of educational programs based on the SDGs.
Over 190 people from universities, high schools, prefectural and city offices, businesses, and civil society organizations joined the symposium. Meanwhile, more than 50 researchers, university and high school teachers and students, officers from prefectural and city authorities, and members of the Science Council of Japan Young Academy participated in the workshop.
In the symposium, after the opening remarks from Dr. Makino, the President of Okayama University, lectures were given by Professor Takeo Arimoto of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Mr. Satoru Ohtake, Senior Fellow of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, and Ms. Akane Ohara, the President of the Ohara Museum of Art. A panel discussion was held with Professors Yuto Kitamura and Mayumi Fukunaga from the Science Council of Japan Young Academy, Professor Mitsunobu R. Kano, Vice Executive Director of Okayama University and Professor of Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Mr. Shumpei Komura, Benesse Corporation, and Mr. Masaaki Nagareo from Okayama city. At the end of the symposium, Mr. Atsufumi Yokoi, Vice Executive Director and Senior University Global Administrator of Okayama University, announced that the University will continue to launch events related to the SDGs through the end of the fiscal year together with the Science Council of Japan and UN agencies.
The workshop on the same day and the following day was facilitated by Professor Mitsunobu Kano, Vice Executive Director of Okayama University and Professor of Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, where a lively discussion was held in three parallel sessions on education, health care, and environment. In the workshop, a high school student asked how they could study about global issues, and the participants including government sectors, teachers, and parents tried to share their knowledge to answer the question.
Okayama is the location for the “Okayama ESD Project,” organized by partners including Okayama University, which won the UNESCO/Japan ESD Award in September 2016. Okayama city also won the UNESCO Learning City Award in January 2017, and is one of the leading places for ESD in Japan. ESD is an educational program to foster people who will undertake the responsibility of building a sustainable society, and endeavors to raise human resources to tackle and promote SDGs to create a sustainable world.
Based on this background, Okayama University launched the “Makino Vision: Heading Further, To a Fruitful Academic Capital” and will be developing a strategic framework to cooperate with the SDGs. We shall continue with efforts which can be done only in Okayama, and also to promote educational and research initiatives in the university.


※Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/
In the United National Sustainable Development Summit 2015 held in September 2015, the United Nations adopted the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” in which the Sustainable Development Goals, consisting of 17 Goals and 169 Targets, are a part of the Agenda to mobilize efforts to benefit people’s lives and the sustainability of the planet.

Recommendation from the Okayama Workshop: Sciences for Promotion of the SDGs
(1st September 2017)

1. We - in Okayama, a place with a strong tradition of placing value on culture – re-emphasize the importance of scientific knowledge and local culture for the promotion of the SDGs;
2. We recognize the need to increase the spaces for dialogue among experts from diverse sectors and backgrounds, to:
i) Discuss the universal and varied values of the SDGs;
ii) Collect and record the unique characteristics of the local community, including the diverse ways of well-being;
iii) Re-examine technologies as to whether they are truly “good,” from multifaceted perspectives;
Propose to establish research funding and centers to promote multi-disciplinary efforts;
And to make such spaces to inspire people who joined the discussion, and to further develop their works in their respective disciplines, with the principles of:
- Agenda-setting to create a win-win situation for existing values;
- Securing free discussion in settings which utilize Chatham House rules;
- Framework-setting to include people with different levels of motivation.
3. We recognize the necessity for academic society to appreciate and evaluate the contributions of academics to the SDGs and other related values, including:
- Collaboration with other sectors beyond the research and educational sectors;
- Creation of performance ratings and entrance examinations fit for promotion of the SDGs with a specific goal-year;
- Awards from individual organizations to honor people who are creating unique and innovative work.
4. We recommend creating new initiatives in education with emphasis on the SDGs, including:
- Developing a matrix to incorporate the values of the SDGs into regular curricula;
- Lifetime education to support upgrading of professionals and teachers;
- Creating an opportunity, as an institution, to learn about the historical balance of development and environmental preservation – to pass on historical experience to the future;
- Re-creating pedagogical methodology with the SDGs values as its core;
- Sharing ways to approach challenges with practitioners, students, and other people involved in the issue;
- Creating knowledge-sharing opportunities from experts to the public, especially parents, with respect to the sustainability of the role of experts and scientists.

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