The 2011 Environmental Symposium on Sustainability held at Hokkaido University was our first attempt at formulating a project which promotes sustainable development and environmentally healthy lifestyles. This event was planned by Doshisha and Hokkaido University students who have had a chance to experience one of the WSES meetings in the past. The participants were primarily exchange students from different countries currently studying at Doshisha and Hokkaido University. The symposium involved students from a diverse educational background including institutions such as Zurich University in Switzerland, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Oberlin College, Williams College, and Huazhong University of Science and Technology. These students, combined with a number of students from Doshisha and Hokkaido University, were called to this symposium in hopes that they would offer a wide range of knowledge regarding sustainability in their respective countries, cities, and universities. Using this conglomeration of knowledge as a basis, we proceeded to plan an eco-friendly project by following these three steps.
1) Gathering Information
Each student was asked to make a presentation highlighting the energy policies of their home country, city or campus. A few students had the opportunity to present sustainable development projects which are currently being implemented. The presentations by students along with the expertise provided by professors Anthony Chittenden and Masahiko Fuji of Hokkaido University opened the door to greater understanding of the specific problems and their backgrounds.
After the information was gathered each student was asked to participate in discussions. The topics of these discussions were centered on analyzing the information about each region highlighted in the presentations. Topics included similarities and differences in energy consumption found in each country, along with different sustainability programs being implemented at some of universities renowned for their environmental activism. It was particularly important to discuss the different geographical, economic, and cultural conditions which correlate to the characteristics of each region or campus. This allowed us to have a clear idea as to why certain projects or policies are implemented along with the specific obstacles each region is facing.
The final step, and the overall objective of the symposium was to construct a project which promotes sustainable development and environmentally friendly behavior patterns. After two days of presenting, discussing and proceeding to ponder possible projects, we made a decision to promote a low-carbon vegetarian day in selected restaurants and supermarkets with some discounts. This project will ideally be innovative enough that it has not been done in either Kyoto or Sapporo city, but at the same time be simple enough that it is realistic and can be implemented. Another characteristic of the project was that we wish to make it general enough so that it will be relevant to both Kyoto and Sapporo. We submitted our proposal to both Kyoto and Sapporo city halls and we start initiating the low-carbon vegetarian day project with the cities.