Human Training - The Key To Sustainable Development

Monday, September 18, 2017

Afternoon 9/9/2017 - At Nguyen Van Dao conference hall, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam Japan University (VJU) held a Science Seminar on the topic "Sustainable Development".

The seminar received much interest from many individuals from different backgrounds, ranging from training institutions, NGOs, the media, to businesses. The seminar was attended by leaders, scientists, businessmen from Japan and Vietnam, including: Mr. Takebe Tsutomu - Special Advisor to the Japan - Vietnam Parliamentary Friendship Alliance; Mr. Umeda Kunio - Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam; Mr. Irigaki Hidetoshi - JICA Senior Vice President; Mr. Takeuchi Kazuhiko - Former Vice President of International Affairs at the University of Tokyo, Deputy Executive Director, Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science; Mr. Uchida Katsuichi - Former Vice President in charge of International Cooperation, Honorary Professor and Senior Advisor Waseda University. Other participants included experts and lecturers from the University of Tokyo; Osaka University; Waseda University; Yokohama National University and representatives from Japanese businesses.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Dr. Furuta Motoo, VJU Rector, said that Vietnam Japan University always pursues the philosophy of "sustainable development" in training and research. VJU’s training and research products aim to serve the overall sustainable development of the society and strengthen the relationship between Vietnam and Japan.

All master’s programs opened in 2017 will include a common subject of "Basic Sustainability Science". Therefore, the Science Seminar on "Sustainable Development” at the beginning of the new academic year, an academic forum for scientists and who may be interested in the topic,  is an opportunity to help the first-year students and all participants more generally understand VJU’s orientations and philosophies.

Mr. Irigaki Hidetoshi, Senior Vice President of JICA also addressed the seminar, affirming JICA’s concerns over climate change prevailing around the globe and especially in Vietnam - one of the most vulnerable countries to this phenomenon. He said highly qualified graduates from VJU will contribute a significant part to Vietnamese society later and reiterated the paramount importance of sustainable science. In the past year, JICA has dispatched many lecturers to teach at VJU in the hope that VJU students can benefit from the insights and experiences from Japanese lecturers. Mr. Irigaki Hidetoshi also affirmed that the seminar on "sustainable development” is among a series of activities to promote friendship between Japan and Vietnam.

The first lecture entitled "Beyond the limits to growth – New Ideas for Sustainability from Japan” was delivered by Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama, former President of the University of Tokyo cum the President of Mitsubishi Research Institute. In just 45 minutes, Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama has shown a peculiar optimism about a sustainable future in the world. According to Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama, sustainability is conveyed in three aspects, namely the Earth, the society and the mankind, and most importantly, we are gradually approaching a saturation point in the social and human aspects. For the past 1000 years, global GDP has increased eight-fold. Life expectancy in the 1900s was only 31, now up to 72. Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama stated that "the mankind now is more and more fulfilled in terms of material possession” and when material fulfillment is reached, people will demand higher quality of life in which "quality” matters more than "quantity”.

This 21st century will be the recycling century where people will gradually become less dependent on natural resources. A society that ensures material well-being of the people while improving quality of their lives is called a platinum society. In a platinum society, resources will be adequately secured, ecosystem related issues will be solved, with a diversity in the age groups and classes among participants, the abundance of employment opportunities and culture, sports and art options etc. Thus, platinum society is the solution that Japan is aiming towards to solve environmental problems and bring a better life for the people.

While Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama focused mainly on sustainable development based on the platinum society model, Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan aligned sustainable development in the face of climate change's impacts.

Sustainable development can only be achieved with the stability and harmony of social-environmental-economic aspects. In today’s fast-changing world where socio-economic development has had ongoing impacts on the people and society, besides climate change and waste. Sustainable development is only feasible when core values are preserved: economic justice; cultural identity - peace; human security; and biodiversity. Vietnam is particularly faced with many challenges in climate change and thus has difficulties in advancing to sustainable development.

Solutions suggested by Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan for Vietnam to achieve sustainable development in the future include developing human resources with broad vision and innovation; a smart system to adapt to climate change; learning from adaptive models of Japan; realizing institutional changes, encouraging social innovation on the basis of technological application.

At the end of the two lectures, Rector Furuta Motoo expressed his sincere appreciation for the applicability and significance of the two lectures. He said the lecture of Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama has spotted the misperception of giving economic development a top priority to the detriment of the environment, and suggested a solution from advanced economies, especially Japan. Meanwhile, the lecture of Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan reflected the real situation of Vietnam and particularly emphasized higher education on sustainable development.

Mr. Takeuchi Kazuhiko, former Vice President of International Affairs at the University of Tokyo, member of VJU Council, also made comments on the two lectures. Mr. Takeuchi expressed his impression with Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama’s lecture for the solutions to better life for the people while achieving sustainable development indicators, highlighted the goals of sustainable development in combination with economic development while preserving the environment, which can be obtained through education. Besides the concept of sustainability, Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan’s lecture also mentioned the notion of "resilient” society meaning the society must adapt to global changes and climate change. Therefore, training highly resilient and intelligent human resources to control high-tech machinery is of paramount importance. It can be seen that sustainable development is a global issue which requires research and training facilities on sustainable development and related issues.

Two lectures are fascinating, especially for VJU students. Numerous questions were raised for the two speakers around the topics: what is a smart system; the economics of using renewable energy; should sustainability plan be expanded, etc.

The seminar on sustainable development closed with good impression instilled among participating VJU students and others present at the seminar.

Photo: Vice Rector Nguyen Hoang Oanh is speaking

Photo: Rector Furuta Motoo is speaking

Photo: "Beyond the limits to growth – New Ideas for Sustainability from Japan” of Prof. Hiroshi Komiyama

Photo: Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan with the lecture "Global Changes and Sustainability" 

Photo: Rector Furuta Motoo is giving presents to the speakers



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