By Yui Nakagawa

On April 16 2016, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Japan organized a special symposium on “Mainstreaming Sustainable Development: Toward 2016 Summit and beyond” at the UNU Headquarters in Tokyo. The number of participants at the event reached over 200.

The symposium consisted of an opening session, followed by a keynote speech by Prof. Takeuchi, a dialogue session between SDSN Japan Council members, and a concluding panel discussion.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Hamanaka Hironori (SDSN Japan Council Chair / Chair of the Board of Directors, Institute of Global Environmental Strategies) pointed out the significant progress made on sustainable development, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, and the Paris Climate Agreement adopted at the COP21 in December 2015. He emphasized the importance of the implementation stage of these agreements which commenced in 2016. Related to this, the 2016 G7 Summit will be a prime opportunity for world leaders to show their commitment to a holistic implementation of the SDGs. Furthermore, Prof. Hamanaka noted that SDSN Japan has been calling for further leadership by G7 leaders and policymakers, and developed policy recommendations on SDG implementation, based on discussions at a workshop that brought together experts from relevant fields.

A guest speech was also delivered by Mr. Oniki Makoto (Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Environment, Japan) who had received the policy recommendations ahead of the symposium. He noted that the Ministry of the Environment will support stakeholders on the SDG implementation, organize a stakeholders meeting to acknowledge and share advanced actions, and address the implementation of SDGs through joint efforts of the public and private sectors.

The following keynote speech by Prof. Takeuchi focused on discussing SDSN Japan’s policy recommendations for mainstreaming the SDGs. At the beginning of his presentation, he briefly reviewed the history of sustainable development, then provided a detailed report on policy recommendations. These recommendations mainly focus on governance and the role of different stakeholders, as well as issues in the areas of climate change, sustainable consumption and production (SCP), biodiversity, international development and education.

The dialogue session included SDSN Japan Council members who have been be actively involved in discussions and deliberations to develop the policy recommendations. The speakers were as following:

  • Kanie Norichika (Prof., Keio University)
  • Hamanaka Hironori (Chair of the Board of Directors, Institute of Global Environmental Strategies)
  • Sueyoshi Takejiro (Vice-Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation / Special Advisor, the UNEP Finance Initiatives)
  • Takeuchi Kazuhiko (Prof., The University of Tokyo / Director, Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science)
  • Suzuki Yuji (Vice-Director, National Federation of UNESCO Association in JAPAN)

Each of the speakers gave an explanation about the policy recommendations from their respective points of view, such as from the perspective of governance and institutions, climate change measures, the behavior of investors, biodiversity, education and international cooperation.

Ms. Kuniya Hiroko moderated the concluding panel discussion, consisting of the following panelists who further elaborated the background of the mentioned policy recommendations:

  • Kanie Norichika (Prof. at Keio University)
  • Arima Toshio (Representative Director, Global Compact Network Japan)
  • Kuroda Kaori (Executive Director, CSO Network)
  • Yasuko Kameyama (Head of Center for Social and Environmental Systems Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies: NIES)

The panel also discussed the following issues regarding future action and commitments by a range of different stakeholders for implementing the SDGs:

  • Researchers should be responsible for disseminating the international trend such as the Paris Climate Agreement to make sure Japan pays proper attention towards a creation of a sustainable society.
  • It is necessary to take an integrated approach at fundamental solutions for today’s and future generations.
  • Changes on the behavior of enterprises are brought about both internally and externally. Enterprises also need a methodology and logic for their corporate management plans to persuade investors to address challenges on SDGs.
  • On the local level, there already are various strategies related to sustainability, such as “Local Production and Consumption” and “Toward the Recycling-based Society.” What is important is how they should be connected to the SDGs.
  • Transformation of the society is critical for the implementation of the SDGs.