2023 Activity Report vol.15:Yokohama National University

Activity Report of Open Application Program 2023 vol.15 (Course A)

Towards a Sustainable Economy and Society by 2073

Report from Faculty of Economics, Yokohama National University
Professor Alexander McAulay

 The Faculty of Economics at Yokohama National University hosted nine students and one researcher from the Faculty of Economics at Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. The aim of the Sakura Science Program was to share with the invited cohort leading social science knowledge, in the interdisciplinary environment of the YNU campus, related to the theme "Towards a Sustainable Campus and City by 2073," and to deepen mutual interest and understanding between the Japanese and Vietnamese students.

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 Vietnam, like many other developing countries, faces many challenges associated with achieving sustainability alongside developing industry and society. The visiting cohort began their exchange with a lecture on December 5th on "Sustainability Transformation to a Resilient Society: A Japanese Perspective" by Dr. Alexander McAulay. Focusing on the publication "Vision 2050: Roadmap for a Sustainable Earth," the lecture outlined the authors' comprehensive vision for a sustainable future. Participants were told that the integration of technology, society, and governance is key—a blueprint that mirrors Japan's own aspirations. The Vietnamese group heard how Japan has invested significantly in renewable energy sources. They were given data on solar farms and wind turbines dotting the landscape, a sign of Japan's commitment to a cleaner, greener future. This was followed by a lecture by Professor Craig Parsons entitled "Introduction to Sustainability Economics: An Overview of the Concept, Importance and Challenges." The audience heard how sustainable economies prioritize ecological balance, social equity, and economic viability, aiming to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations. This holistic approach intertwines environmental conservation, social welfare, and economic prosperity. It emphasizes minimizing environmental impact through efficient resource use, waste reduction, and renewable energy. Professor Parsons stated that social inclusivity, fair wages, and equitable resource distribution are pivotal, alongside economic viability through innovation and local business support. Achieving sustainable economies demands concerted efforts and innovative solutions from governments, businesses, and individuals globally.

 Cross-cultural communication between students was a salient aspect of the program and Japanese and Vietnamese students had plenty of opportunity in each session to reflect on and discuss the learning points.

 For three days the cohort learned from YNU faculty and DAV faculty about sustainability with regard to such areas as innovation, the circular economy, carbon emissions, finance, entrepreneurship and food security. This was complemented by a visit on Saturday December 9 to Yokohama Disaster Risk Reduction Learning Center to learn how the city is bolstering its resilience against disasters, particularly in the Yokohama Station area. Established in 1983, the Vietnamese visitors learned that the center serves as a crucial hub for disaster preparedness, offering training programs and disseminating essential knowledge to enhance citizens' ability to respond effectively during emergencies. This visit deepened the understanding of the importance of proactive disaster risk reduction measures in urban areas.

 The learning during the course of the visit was given practical application in a session on Friday December 8, when the YNU students presented on "Plans for Susutainable Campus and Yokohama in 2073," and the Vietnamese presented on "Plans for Susutainable Campus and Hanoi in 2073." A lively cross-cultural exchange took place with both groups applying their newfound academic knowledge to the real-world challenges they face in their respective cities.

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 Social events included introducing the Vietnamese group to the sights of Yokohama such as Minato Mirai and Chinatown, and enjoying food culture such as okonomiyaki. The week of hosting the DAV cohort was a wonderful experience for both Vietnamese and Japanese students and researchers. We would like to express our gratitude to all the students, staff and faculty at both YNU and DAV for their hard work to bring this program to fruition. In particular, we thank the Sakura Science Program for this invaluable opportunity.

 In conclusion, we present some comments given by Vietnamese visitors:

  • "This was my first time to Japan and it has greatly helped my personal and professional growth. The exposure to great teachers and students talking about sustainability practices in the country has reshaped my approach to economics. I feel the commitment to environmental management and the smooth integration of sustainability into daily life is so important for Vietnam. We are indebted to Sakura Science for this eye-opening experience."
  • "Our experience in Japan made its mark on our perspectives. The planning and efficiency observed in Japanese society makes us appreciate for time management and observing rules. We've gained valuable insights into incorporating these principles into our daily lives and academic studies. Our gratitude to the Sakura Exchange Program for this opportunity."
  • "Thank you Sakura Science Exchange Program. We return to Vietnam with a better understanding of how economics can help achieve sustainability. But we also take memories of friendly people, clean and orderly society, and great food! We also have new friendships that we will treasure."
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