Japan RCE Youth Meeting Highlights Regional Diversity as Key to Promoting Local SDGs and ESD

Co-hosted by the RCE Yokohama Youth Group and UNU-IAS, the 6th Japan RCE Youth Meeting was held in Yokohama, Japan on 16 and 17 February 2024. It was attended by 15 youth members from 7 RCEs across the country. The event coincided with the Working- level Meeting of Japanese RCEs hosted by RCE Yokohama with 19 participants.  

To strengthen the Japanese RCE youth network and promote their initiatives, the meeting provided a platform for youth members to showcase their activities. Participants acknowledged the significance of regional diversity in Japan and the importance of localising Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in RCE initiatives. The meeting emphasised collaboration with various stakeholders, fostering local actions not only within Japan but also abroad. The Yokohama RCE Youth Group, with support from the Global RCE Service Centre headquartered in UNU-IAS, designed the entire two-day programme.

On the first day, the youth participants were divided into three groups for small group discussions after the icebreaking session. They identified societal issues within their respective regions in Japan and formulated ideas for the undefined 'SDG18'. Plans and solutions for SDG18 were developed, recognising the values of regional diversity inspired by their imagination without considering the feasibility of implementation. Proposed plans included establishing a 'human library' for community connection, creating an innovative learning environment inspired by traditional Japanese temple schools, and building a network to acknowledge and embrace diverse 'gaps'.

In the plenary session, the participants shared discussion results and proposals, highlighting the group's ability to acknowledge differences and face specific challenges within local communities. Ms. Tokie Izaki from the Ministry of Environment, the Government of Japan, delivered a concluding message, emphasising the role of SDGs in building a sustainable society and finding collaborative solutions within local communities. Miki Konishi from the Global RCE Service Centre stressed the importance of sharing best practices internationally and enhancing collaboration.

On the second day, the participants split into two groups and visited two local sustainable projects in Yokohama: the Sachiumi Heros at Kanazawa Fishing Port and a citizen-driven project by Yocco 18. Together, they drafted a handbook named 'Sustainable Book in Yokohama', which features various sustainability projects conducted in the city, including those visited. The handbook aims to capture the community's efforts by emphasising the importance of community activities.

The two-day programme provided the Japanese RCE youth members with the valuable opportunity to recognize regional diversity and the significance of their RCE initiatives in advancing SDGs and ESD. The Global RCE Service Centre expressed gratitude to the teams at RCE Yokohama and RCE Yokohama Youth Group for their dedication in hosting the event.

(Photo credit: Ms Riyoko Kobayashi, RCE Yokohama Youth Group)