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Report on 18th SDGs Seminar Solving Global Issues with Civilian Power: The Unique Strengths of NGOs


Guest speaker Ms. Mariko Kinai

The 18th SDGs Seminar, held on January 17, 2022, took the theme of "Solving Global Issues with Civilian Power: The Unique Strengths of NGOs." Mariko Kinai, a board member and Bational Director of World Vision Japan, an international NGO supporting children around the world, spoke to us about the types of international cooperation activities in which NGOs are engaged toward solving global issues.

She began by explaining what kind of organization an NGO is and specifically what kind of activities they engage in. In relation to the impact of COVID-19, we learned that in addition to the primary impacts of the spread of the disease, the secondary impacts too have been huge, including domestic violence suffered by women and female students as a result of lockdowns and schools being closed, more teenage pregnancies, and the cycle of poverty caused by the difficulty of returning to study after childbirth, resulting in an inadequate education and less income. It is important that NGO support targets to prevent both infection and secondary impacts in order to protect the next generation of children from those impacts to the greatest possible extent.

Scene from the seminar

In relation to earlier efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola virus disease, Ms. Kinai noted the limited effect of providing locals only with a scientific explanation and the need to think about how to communicate your message based on an understanding of local characteristics such as old customs and religion. This really highlighted the difficulties of international cooperation and the importance of tailoring that cooperation to each country and region. She explained how important it was also that locals do not simply follow instructions but rather independently change their own behavior, which requires that local activities are undertaken not just once but patiently and repeatedly so that they take hold with locals and lead to fundamental solutions. These elements really seem to be the essence of international cooperation.

Finally, Ms. Kinai explained NGO strengths and challenges. In terms of challenges in Japan, she suggested that the reason of low individual donor rate and low contribution from Japanese government would arise from limited awareness to NGOs among the public. These challenges suggest that education on international cooperation is lagging in Japan and that awareness of NGOs and cooperation activities needs to be fostered from the elementary education level and chances provided to engage in international cooperation.

 (Kie Hayashi, second-year student, 
Department of Languages and Culture, Faculty of Letters and Education)

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