Japan’s advances toward sustainable cities: implications of “SDGs Future City” approach for tackling local challenges; Case of Kitakyushu city, Japan.
More than half of world population lives in cities today, with 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of world’s carbon emissions. The importance of sustainable urban development cannot be overestimated. If taking a strong critical stance, cities are essentially unsustainable, since they are characterized by high concentration of population with high consumption of resources and waste production, and therefore, they exceed the ecological thresholds and carrying capacity of the land where cities are located. On the other hand, cities offer the biggest potential for reducing the environment impact on the hinterland and getting closer to realizing Sustainable Development (SD), through various policies promoting compact city design, circular use of material flows, utilizing communities’ social capital, etc. Embracing this fact, various cities and nations have been proposing their own Sustainable City policies and Action Plans such as “Green Growth City”, “Low-carbon city” among many others. Japan currently has 3 on-going national Sustainable City policy frameworks: Eco-Model City (since 2008), FutureCity (since 2012) and SDGs FutureCity (since 2018).
One part of my research focus on global cities efforts on Sustainable Development. I have been investigating of 3 forerunner case cities: Stockholm (Sweden), Portland (United States) and Kitakyushu (Japan). I explore – Why these cities claim to be sustainable? What were their actions and policies toward SD? What have been the critical perspective on these actions?
Tentative outcomes of that explorative analysis highlight some shared factors of success. One such factor is strong collaboration between all stakeholder groups (Local government, NGO’s, Community groups, Businesses, Academia) which is also emphasized as SDG N17: “Partnerships for the goals”, Targets 17.16 and 17.17 “Multi-stakeholder partnerships”.
Another part of my research focus how sustainable city concept was evolving in Japan, investigating the case of Kitakyushu City with its long history of environmental action and its various efforts toward SD. Employing qualitative fieldwork methods (in-depth interviews and observations), the research is taking into perspective views of various city stakeholders on the city’s movements towards embracing urban sustainability.
The results of this research will reveal enabling factors towards achieving SDGs as well as controversies, both of which have important implications for researchers and policy-makers inside and outside Japan for harmonizing urban policies with SDGs.
• 10 December 2018 – student organizer of the 7th International Symposium on Human Survivability “Let’s Work Together Toward Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”
• 7 November 2019 – oral presentation on the 8th International Symposium on Human Survivability “Human Survivability Studies (HSS) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Asia”. Topic of the presentation: “Towards SDG N11: Sustainable Cities in the East and the West. Case of Kitakyushu City, Japan.”
• Sustainable Economy Research Group
• Natural Resources and Energy Policy Research Group