On 6 February 2020, UNU Senior Vice-Rector Taikan Oki spoke at the Tokyo kick-off event for the Venture Café Global Sustainability Challenge 2020 where he stressed the importance of envisioning the future we want through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Addressing the event’s audience of entrepreneurs, startups, corporate employees, and students, Prof. Oki highlighted how UNU’s work covers every SDG, with policy-relevant research focusing on a wide range of issues including water, sustainability, economic development, and human security.
“Our mission is to contribute through collaborative research and education, dissemination, and advisory services, to efforts to resolve pressing global problems,” Prof. Oki said. “I would say our three pillars of research activities are peace and security, human security, and sustainable development — so the SDGs are one of our major focuses.”
The 17 SDGs were adopted by UN member states in September 2015 to call on all nations to take action for a prosperous future. Prof. Oki suggested to the participants to not look only at the goals — and their hundreds of targets and indicators —but rather focus on the bigger picture by reading the 2030 Agenda to understand the heart of the SDGs.
“The 2030 Agenda describes the intention and the aspiration of what we would like to achieve by 2030 and the SDGs are just goals to communicate with the people,” Prof. Oki said. “I want to pick up key words like poverty eradication, dignity, self-esteem, and inclusion. I feel these words are the heart and the aspiration of the 2030 Agenda.”
Prof. Oki also noted that UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged the private sector to take action to boost investments in the SDGs to create sustainable economic growth.
“The private sector including startups and entrepreneurs are expected to play a major role in achieving the SDGs so I believe your ideas and actions will contribute greatly to the SDGs,” Prof. Oki said, encouraging participants to get involved.
The Venture Café Global Sustainability Challenge 2020 is a monthly series of SDG-themed sessions and workshops for the Venture Café global network including Tokyo. Other panelists for the kick-off event were Robin Lewis, co-founder of MyMizu, a free water refill platform to reduce plastic, and Melanie St. James, the executive producer of the Global Summit.