Designing a Sustainable Society through Intergenerational Co-creation (2014- )

PUBLIC NEEDS

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Takashi OMORI
Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies,
Tokyo City University

* Previous Area Director: Kazuhiro Ueta (Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University) until January 2016

Despite dramatic advancements in science and technology, today's society faces many issues including declining birth rate, aging of population, growing fiscal deficit, increase in environmental burden, depopulation in rural areas, and increased risk of natural disasters. These issues are all related to sustainability and common throughout the globe, with some differences per country, as indicated by the adoption of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015.

While various efforts have been made to tackle these issues, it is clear that a segmented approach treating them separately has limited impact. Instead, we should take a holistic approach towards the real problems in respective regions, taking into account the varied local resources available.

We believe that intergenerational co-creation is an important methodology in this regard. This is because an intergenerational approach makes people active, affects their mindset, enables gathering of diverse knowledge, facilitates consensus formation, and enhances sustainability of activities.

This is not to say all problems can be solved by this methodology, or that there is no room for improvement. Hence, we would like to further develop methods of intergenerational co-creation as a social technology, so that people in many regions can take advantage of it. This will, we believe, help lead to the realization of sustainable society.

GOALS:

Our aim can be summarized in the following three points:
(1)We will clarify how intergenerational co-creation is effective in achieving sustainability in cities and regions.
(2)In the areas where intergenerational co-creation is expected to be effective, we propose mechanisms to promote, put into practice and improve it.
(3)We will make efforts to implement these mechanisms in our society while building a network for exchanging experiences and know-how.

Almost all the projects in this research area have regional fields, owing to the above point of view, providing a venue for first verifying their research hypotheses. In addition, each aims for activities to continue in some way so that they become ingrained into society beyond the RISTEX research period.

By "co-creation," we mean a cooperative activity to create something together, rather than simply allowing one generation to take care of the other. What we expect to be created are not necessarily physical products, but could well include values such as improvement in health or well-being, and reduction in fiscal deficit or environmental burden.

Message from the Area Director

It has been a while since people recognized the importance of "sustainable society." Since then, there have been advances in various science and technology, accumulation of capitals, and establishment and maintenance of systems. However, unfortunately we cannot say that the sustainability of our society was enhanced. There are many global environment issues which continue to deteriorate. Cumulative deficit in Japan is growing rapidly, close to exceeding the economic growth rate. There is a concern of the future of many local governments due to depopulation. The gap between the rich and the poor has been widening in many advanced countries.

It is known that after a certain level of income is attained, the level of happiness and life satisfaction do not improve substantially with income increase. Although Japan seems to have entered that stage, we cannot ignore that the level of life anxiety in Japanese people shows an increasing trend. More often than before people say that "the world is becoming degenerated" or "it is becoming more difficult to live." These vague senses of anxiety seem to be deeply related to the issue of sustainability.

There are various approaches to build a sustainable society. I would like to pay respect to many people who are making efforts on respective themes in their own ways. In this area, we focus on an attempt to build a sustainable society with the method of "intergenerational co-creation." Sustainability does not mean to keep on repeating the same thing; it is necessary to closely examine what should be changed and what should be maintained. In the world with uncertainty, consensus needs to be formed in the society, including a viewpoint of what should be passed onto the future generation.

In old days, production and living space used to be integrated, and people from different generations cooperated at home and communities in various ways. In such society, people realized they are in charge of a slice of eternal history called "now". Such opportunities decreased with the advent of mass production, nuclear family, urbanization, and globalization; meanwhile, recent progress in information and communication technology enabled people to bond and help with one another in new ways.

We will keep on to strive toward building a new way of lifewhich can make people feel secure that the prosperity of humankind will continue and also toward necessary science and technology for society to realize it

R&D Projects

FY2016

  • Restoring a Beautiful and Rich Inner Bay through "Fish Local, Eat Local" (3 yrs.)
    Koji OTSUKA [Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sustainable System Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University]
  • Restructuring Local Livelihoods and Fostering Diverse Lifescape through Cooperative Ateliers in Rural Communities (3 yrs.)
    Masahiro ONUMA [Professor, Graduate Department of Life Design, Tohoku Institute of Technology]
  • Revitalizing Streetscapes by Utilization of Vacant Houses and Neighborhood Medical Care (3 yrs.)
    Haruhiko GOTO [Professor, Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering, Waseda University]
  • Building a Support System to Public Facility Management for a Sustainable Region (3 yrs.)
    Hiroki TSUTSUMI [Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Maebashi Institute of Technology]
  • Development of an Intergenerationally Co-creative Community Model of Work-Life Integration (3 yrs.)
    Shigeru YANAKA [Professor, Faculty of Regional Sciences, Tottori University]
  • Proposals on Intergenerationally Co-creative Models through Donation (1 yr.)
    Sachiko KISHIMOTO [Executive Director, Public Resources Foundation]
  • Regional Revitalization Education by Intergenerational Philosophical Dialogue and Project Learning (1 yr.)
    Tetsuya KONO [Professor, Department of Education, Rikkyo University]
  • An Investigation regarding the Mechanism of Intergenerational Inheritance of Social Capital (1 yr.)
    Masato YODO [Associate Professor, The Institute of Economic Research, Kyoto University]

FY2015

  • Practical Feedback for the Measurement of Various Aspects of Happiness in Local Areas and the Sustainability of Intergenerational Societies (3 yrs.)
    Yukiko UCHIDA [Associate Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University]
  • Creating an Intergenerational Platform for Utilizing Regional Resources through Sheep Raising (3 yrs.)
    Katsuya KANETOU [Representative Director, General Incorporated Association Satoumifarm]
  • Distributed Rainwater Management for a Sustainable Well-being Society (3 yrs.)
    Yukihiro SHIMATANI [Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University]
  • Developing a Multi-layered and Intergenerational System of Cooperation in Community (3 yrs.)
    Yoshinori FUJIWARA [Team Leader,
    Research Team for Social Participation and Community Health,
    Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology]
  • Creating a Fountain of Future Lifestyle Ideas (3 yrs.)
    Ryuzo FURUKAWA [Associate Professor, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Tohoku University]

FY2014

  • Ensuring Sustainability at Local Government Level by Promoting the Implementation
    of Multigenerational Participatory Stock Management Methods (3 yrs.)
    Hidefumi KURASAKA [Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Chiba University]
  • Development of Mobility Assist System for the People with Visual Impairment by Collaborative Creation of Multiple Generations (3 yrs.)
    Yoshikazu SEKI [Chief Senior Researcher, Physical Fitness Technology Group, Human Informatics Research Institute, Department of Information Technology and Human Factors, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)]
  • Evaluation of Effectiveness of Intergenerational Co-creative Community on ME-BYO (3 yrs.)
    Kenji WATANABE [Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Study / School of Medicine, Keio University]