RCE Kitakyushu and Stakeholders – a Story of Successful ESD Promotion

Several members of the Global RCE Secretariat attended a meeting with RCE Kitakyushu, its stakeholders and the Kitakyushu ESD Council, including local government officials. The meeting, held in June 2017, allowed for constructive exchange on current projects of RCE Kitakyushu and their plans in the coming year.

Major outcomes of the meeting were RCE Stakeholder approval of the financial year 2017, and preparations on difference projects, including the international exchange planned with RCEs in South Korea as well as the Kitakyushu ESD Award. “One could sense the strong links between the stakeholders of RCE Kitakyushu. They are well organized and their project divisions are focused and aligned, for example their ‘stakeholder promotion project’ or ‘branding project’ or their ‘research and international project’,” explained Ryoko Suzuki (UNU-IAS).

The RCE also encourages their youth to be involved in these projects, while universities in Kitakyushu have implemented an ESD curriculum. Based on the Kitakyushu ESD Action Plan 2015-2019, the RCE hopes to implement new activities, such as sharing of information through social media and the Kitakyushu ESD Award. “I was impressed by how much effort they put into promoting the ‘ESD’ concept. It is almost like branding of ESD,” Ryoko Suzuki (UNU-IAS) said.

The RCE’s strong foundation in civil society results partly in the way it evolved, beginning with a women’s advocacy group against environmental pollution and growing into a civil movement. This together with a physical base in the city center of Kokura are great advantages for a deeper and wider development of the RCE’s network.

The Kitakyushu ESD Council has built a strong relationship with the city government. Local politicians have also been part of promoting the ESD concept to their citizens. ESD awareness in the city has been raised through ESD events, and the introduction of an ESD curriculum at the elementary school level. This concept and programmatic work should be shared with other cities to allow for similar success stories somewhere else.