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Report on 17th SDGs Seminar Sustainability in International Cooperation Projects: The Example of Myanmar


Guest speaker Ms. Junko Kikuchi

The 17th SDGs Seminar, held on December 20, 2021, addressed the topic of "Sustainability in International Cooperation Projects: The Example of Myanmar," subtitled "Realizing a society in which no one gets left behind." Our speaker was Junko Kikuchi, section head of the SDGs & CSR Strategy Section at Nippon Koei Co., Ltd., who has worked on the front lines in many developing countries. She discussed addressing environmental and social impacts from the perspective of local residents when implementing international cooperation projects.

At the seminar, Ms. Kikuchi focused on the resettlement of locals accompanying the development of Myanmar's Thilawa Special Economic Zone. We learned that particular care needs to be taken on matters relating to food, clothing, and housing when trying to raise locals’ standards of living. Ms. Kikuchi also told us about the close communication that she maintained with locals as a development consultant so as to realize a society in which no one gets left behind.

The development of Myanmar’s resettlement plan apparently involved not just the Myanmar government but also international organizations, NGOs, private companies, local residents as the parties whose daily lives will be most greatly affected, and many other people. It was clear that with the interests and feelings of people in so many different positions involved, there are going to be multiple perspectives on what comprises the “truth” and what is “right.” Particularly for local residents, moving their place of residence might be intended to improve their quality of life, but it is also a very delicate issue that creates great loneliness and unease. Even within a community, the residents have different opinions and trust in different things, and it is vital to avoid divisions arising within a local community as a result. Social sensitivities must therefore be handled very carefully, with attention also paid to how information is communicated to local residents.  

IMAGE: What I learned

We learned about the difficulty and importance of approaching international cooperation with methods aligned with the SDGs basic philosophy of non-discrimination and leaving no one behind. This includes ensuring sufficient opportunities for dialogue with those who will be directly impacted by development assistance and listening carefully based on a critical thinking approach to the views of the various different organizations involved in support.

 (Shio Imada, second-year student, 
Department of Languages and Culture, Faculty of Letters and Education)

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