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Kanazawa City, Japan selected as an “SDGs Future City 2020” and a “Municipal SDGs Model Project”

UNU-IAS collaboration with Kanazawa City, Japan on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contributed to the selection of the city as an “SDGs Future City 2020” and a “Municipal SDGs Model Project” in July 2020, under a scheme of the Government of Japan. The goal is to create a sustainable city where citizens and visitors can share in the beauty of the city based on biological and cultural diversity such as nature, history, and culture, while the number of tourists increases.

The UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa / Kanazawa (OUIK), located in Kanazawa City, has been working with the city to achieve the SDGs, starting with the SDGs Ishikawa–Kanazawa Dialogue Series in 2018. A joint declaration was signed in March 2019 between Kanazawa City, the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Kanazawa, and UNU-IAS OUIK, launching the Kanazawa SDGs project “IMAGINE KANAZAWA 2030”. In order to deepen understanding of the SDGs and regional issues, the “SDGs Café Series” was initiated as a forum for communication where local people can easily talk about the future of Kanazawa and regional issues, and “SDGs Meetings” held to discuss regional issues. UNU-IAS OUIK worked with various local stakeholders to create the “Kanazawa Future Scenario” by exchanging ideas.

“Environmental Model Cities” and “Environmental Future Cities” of Japan

In 2008, the Japanese Government adopted a system to select “Environmental Model Cities” and “Environmental Future Cities” with the aim of achieving a sustainable economy and society. Kanazawa City was selected as an “SDGs Future City” in addition to the “Model Cities for the Environment” and “Future City for the Environment” to propose initiatives to achieve the SDGs with the aim of further promoting regional development. Up to 30 cities each year have been selected since 2018, and in Ishikawa Prefecture, Suzu City (FY2018), Hakusan City (FY2018), Komatsu City (FY2019), and this year Kaga City, Nomi City, and Kanazawa City were newly selected. Kanazawa City is the first municipality in the prefecture to be selected as a “Municipal SDGs Model Project”. These cities were selected based on an evaluation in terms of SDG 17, and are expected to proactively develop their projects to achieve the goals.

Future Plans

OUIK will continue to collaborate with Kanazawa City and the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Kanazawa on a variety of activities such as raising awareness and publicising the SDGs and building a community of co-creation based on the cooperative framework. In particular, in developing attractive SDGs tours, which is an important element of the model project, UNU-IAS OUIK will make use of its practical experience in workshops and other activities to consider “Japanese Gardens and the Sustainability of Kanazawa” and the results of its research on the Noto’s Satoyama Satoumi GIAHS (Globaly Important Agricultural Heritage System) and Mount Hakusan Biosphere Reserve, which have been cultivated through OUIK’s research over the years. UNU-IAS OUIK will provide advice on how to make use of green infrastructure for tourism and SDGs tourism in the wider region.

Original article 

【開催報告】SDGsカフェ#12「〜with コロナ時代だから考えたい〜 ESG投資が金沢に根付くには!?」

Sorry, this entry is only available in Japanese.

「第1回IMAGINE KANAZAWA 2030推進会議」開催

Sorry, this entry is only available in Japanese.

OUIK Biocultural Diversity Series #5 Restoring Kinship with Nature through Japanese Gardens -The Challenge to Achieve a Sustainable Commons in Kanazawa

The book introduces unique roles and teachings of Japanese Gardens in Kanazawa City in a relation with human society and it is breaking new ground for Kanazawa’s sustainable future. 

OUIK Biocultural Diversity Series #4 [Learning About the Satoyama and Satoumi of Hokuriku Region from Maps]

Map information  compiled by various scales to learn about  the link between anthropogenic activities and physical environment within Hokuriku Region.

Youth Capacity Building Workshop towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

From January 1, 2016 until 2030, United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), with 17 goals and 169 targets, to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. These goals are applied to all countries and regions, and for the next 15 years they will be the critical tools in the dialogs to solve environmental, economic and social issues. Youth capacity development towards those issues will be essential to ensure the successful achievements of those goals. This Workshop is jointly created by Kanazawa University and United Nations University, and it aims to create the platform for the younger generations to come together and deepen the discussions on SDGs and share the regional issues.

Workshop: “Green Infrastructure Starting from Gardens in Temples and Shrines” 

On the 22nd of October 2019, the second volunteer cleaning activity at Shinrensha Temple Garden and the first workshop about green infrastructure were held. This time, together with Mr. Maruyama from Kanazawa Univ., Mr. Sakamura from JAIST, as well as their students, we invited Ms. Hayashi from Ryukoku Univ. as a guest speaker to talk about her research on the land use of Lake Biwa.  

OUIK’s researcher Dr. Ivars, the main organizer of this event, talked about his research on Kanazawa’s biocultural diversity. As he mentioned in his book published last July, it is important for citizens to actively collaborate to conserve the nature that exists in cities. Dr. Ivars is hoping that events like this cleaning workshop become more common among locals and tourists, as it would help the owners of the gardens maintain and preserve them. Dr. Ivars conducted a survey of participants before and after the cleaning. The results showed that cleaning the gardens increased positive emotions and reduced negative emotions. This activity gives benefits not only to the garden owner, but also to the participants. 

Next, Ms. Hayashi’s presentation taught us the importance of taking records on land use. If the cultural landscape and biodiversity of Japanese gardens in Kanazawa is a micro perspective, Ms. Hayashi’s story was more of a macro perspective. Ms. Hayashi’s research focuses on the natural environment and cultural landscapes of the past, and investigating changes in land use and the natural environment.  Using a map showing the surrounding area of ​​Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, she explained that investigating how to use the natural environment that has existed from the past to the present time can suggest ways to connect people and nature sustainably, or industries that match the local environment. 

After the lecture, we started the cleaning activities in the Shinrensha Garden. 

It was a beautiful autumn day, and the participants seemed to enjoy being close to nature outside. Participants mainly picked up fallen leaves in the main garden area and the graveyard behind the garden.  After one hour, the garden was finally clean, and we moved on to the discussion session. 

Each group summarized their feelings and impressions of this experience in a 3-minute presentation. Some thoughts included: “What kind of gardens attract people and give easier access to people?” “Let’s make use of fallen leaves” “I was able to relax and enjoy myself” and so on.  

Spending time in the garden surrounded by nature gives people living in the city opportunities to  come in contact with nature and share a common purpose with other people. The participants enjoyed learning in the beautiful garden, and they seemed very satisfied.  


【開催報告】SDGsカフェ#11「持続とは変化!? ~with コロナ時代の働き方とリモートワーク~」

Sorry, this entry is only available in Japanese.

Report on SDGs cafe #10 SDGs x Sports

2020 is the year of the Tokyo Olympics. As the interest in sports has increased with each passing day, this time at the SDGs café, we focused on Sports and how they relate to the SDGs.

Our first guest was Ms. Haida, Deputy General Manager of the Business Planning Department and Hometown Promotion Office of Zweigen Kanazawa Football team (J2).

The J League (Japan’s professional football league) has three philosophies, one of which is “promoting a rich sports culture and contributing to the healthy development of the mind and body of the people.” In other words, there is a strong desire to develop Japanese sports culture through football.

Zweigen Kanazawa has a club philosophy: “Challenge the tradition of this city.”

“In Kanazawa, there are many things that are said to be ‘tradition’. We are trying to make ‘challenging’ a new Kanazawa tradition,” Ms. Haida said.  

J-League clubs conduct 20,000 community engagement activities a year to gain more supporters as well as the favor of the local community. Last year, Zweigen Kanazawa conducted 250 such activities, including a football training session for kindergarten kids, support for the blind football team “Zweigen Kanazawa BFC”, and football lessons to help rehabilitate patients with mental illnesses. 

All 56 clubs in the J-League have performed about 20,000 community engagement activities in the year 2019. However, despite their efforts, there was still a lack of awareness of their activities in the local community. As such, two years ago on the 25th anniversary of the J-League they decided to start “Sharen” in addition to their regular activities. 

“Sharen” is an abbreviation of “social cooperation activity” in Japanese. Zweigen Kanazawa has been working with companies, governments, schools, and other local groups to solve social issues in the community. Before starting Sharen, they focused on quantity, but now they are more focused on the quality of the activities. 

Our second guest was the SDGs expert Mr. Cosmo Takagi, a Research Associate at UNU-IAS OUIK as well as a Research Assistant at Keio University. He also has experience learning football in Brazil, so he was a perfect speaker for this workshop. 

He first explained what the SDGs are with examples and explained an important theory of the SDGs: backcasting. There are 17 goals in the SDGs, so we need to think ahead and define our goals and then work backwards to identify policies and programmes that will help us achieve those specific goals. This planning process is vital to achieving the SDGs. 

”How do you use the SDGs in connection with the J-League?”

One way to use the SDGs is to organize. For example, a J3 team called “YSCC Yokohama” is sending a team of nutritionists to an impoverished area and teaching the residents how to make a nutritionally balanced meal at a low price. This activity contribute to the second goal of the SDGs: Zero hunger. However, this is very broad in terms of goals, and it seems that anything can be linked.

The SDGs have 169 targets and indicators for their progress. Looking at the targets and indicators, we can see that there is a concept of “eliminating undernourishment” and that we are contributing to it.

“When organizing our efforts in the SDGs, look at specific targets rather than the overall goals. The targets are so specific that we can organize our efforts in a meaningful way,” Mr. Takagi said.


Some further examples he gave included Kawasaki Frontale’s contribution for SDGs goal number 4, Quality Education, where the team donated maths workbooks to kids to learn basic maths by counting football game scores.   

The UK’s Forest Green Rovers FC is known as the world’s most environmentally friendly club, and is certified as such by the United Nations. They attached solar panels to their stadium which supply all of the electricity the stadium requires with solar power. 

During the group discussion session, participants discussed what kind of activities we can organise to promote SDGs with sports, what can lead to the achievement of Kanazawa’s SDGs using sports.

Some of the opinions of participants are as follows:

“Nobody at our table really plays any sports, so we talked about how we can individually enjoy and support sports.”

“We would love to host an event where children and football players can play together”

“It would be easier for disable people, people with illnesses, and elderly people to go to the stadium if there were more transportation options to get to the stadium and more accessible toilets.”


Cleaning workshop at Shinrensha Temple 

On July 4, 2019, a garden cleaning workshop was held at Shinrensha Temple. This event was organised by Dr. Ivars (Researcher at OUIK), Dr. Mamadowa (Associate Professor, International Organization of Kanazawa University) and Dr. Iida (Collaborative Research Center for Environmental Research in the Sea of ​​Japan, Kanazawa University). 

This time, 14 exchange students from Kazan Federal University, Russia participated to learn about Kanazawa’s culture and history while strolling through the Higashi Chaya district and cleaning the garden. At the end of the event, a tea ceremony was held in front of the garden which they had just cleaned. 

One of the students commented “While cleaning the garden, I was able to take a closer look at it, which  made me admire it even more”. 

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