On 3–4 February 2024, UNU-IAS hosted the Ninth Japan Youth Environmental Activity Contest and Workshop. This annual contest engages youth across Japan to share their solutions to local and global environmental issues, empowering the next generation of leaders in sustainability. Held in person for the first time in five years since the COVID-19 pandemic, the event brought together approximately 100 students from 16 high schools across Japan. It was co-organized with the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ), and the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency, Japan (ERCA).
Akio Takemoto (Head of Programme and Administration, UNU-IAS) delivered a presentation focusing on the state of the food system in Japan and the critical minerals required for energy transition. He highlighted the heavy reliance of Japan on imported resources and the need to consider impacts on the environment and SDGs progress of exporting countries.
Students introduced their projects, which addressed local sustainability challenges and their social, economic and environmental dimensions. The UNU-IAS Director’s Award was presented to the “Flora Hunters” team, a group of students from Nakui Agricultural High School in Aomori Prefecture. Their winning presentation focused on building a hydroponic cultivation system that saved water by improving containers and adjusting the mist spraying time. Their initiative was highly praised for tackling pressing global issues such as water shortage and crop malnutrition in dry areas.
Tetsuya Yagi (State Minister of the Environment, Japan) encouraged the students to further develop their sustainability efforts by sharing ideas and knowledge with students of other schools.