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Report on 14th SDGs Seminar Infrastructure Development in an SDG Era: Drawing on Cases in Southeast Asia


Guest speaker Mr. Hidetsugu Kawanami

The 14th SDGs Seminar, held on November 8, 2021, addressed the topic of “Infrastructure Development in an SDG Era: Drawing on Cases in Southeast Asia.” Our guest speaker, Hidetsugu Kawanami, chief engineer of the Southeast Asia division of the Consulting Operations Headquarters at Nippon Koei Co., Ltd spoke to us about infrastructure development and the best parts of the job.

Infrastructure projects undertaken as part of official development assistance (ODA) bring in many actors from governments, ministries, construction companies, manufacturers, trading companies, and consultants, etc., to develop the infrastructure that underpins industry and social life, including energy, roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and ports. Infrastructure projects contribute to economic and private sector development, but they could also impact negatively on the natural and social environment and abet the poverty gap in developing countries. We learned that it is not just a matter of launching into infrastructure development as development aid; instead, the impact of infrastructure development needs to be considered and explored from all angles. Mr. Kawanami also identified a number of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) goals and targets related to infrastructure, and it was clear from the fact that infrastructure development was related to so many SDG goals and targets that it impacts on a whole range of areas.

PHOTO:SDG goals and targets related to infrastructure development

Infrastructure development and other development aid conducted at the local level overseas may require implementing projects together with personnel from multiple countries. It seemed that bringing together dedicated individuals with diverse skills from a range of countries would ensure a high standard of development assistance in developing countries. For those involved in providing development aid, it seemed that being able to meet with similarly dedicated colleagues out on the development aid frontlines would be very appealing.

The SDGs call for all future infrastructure development to be high quality. Mr. Kawanami used a couple of memorable terms in that regard. He said that infrastructure had to be developed “correctly” and “with kindness.” Viewing aid as something that is given and received seems to always create a hierarchy. The idea of developing infrastructure correctly and with kindness, however, puts aid recipients and donors on an equal footing, focusing on creating something that is good for locals and the environment. In other words, it is “aid with love.” The seminar was a great reminder of the importance of working closely with locals and the natural environment to ensure that aid does not become someting arbitrarily imposed by aid providers.

 (Rino Nozawa, second-year student, 
Department of Human and Social Sciences, Faculty of Letters and Education)

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