Kyoyama ESD Environment Project (KEEP) to Promote Regional Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Mitsuyuki Ikeda,
Director, Kyoyama District of Okayama City ESD Promotion Council
Junko Tanaka,
Supervisor of Social Education, Okayama
Municipal Kyoyama Kominkan

1. Kyoyama District, Okayama City
The Kyoyama District of Okayama City is an educational district in the city center near the JR Okayama Station with a population of 24,000 persons (10,000 households). The district abounds in nature as it contains various mountains such as Kyoyama and Handayama, and major waterways such as Zasugawa River and Kannon-ji irrigation waterway. The district features a concentration of educational facilities such as seven elementary, junior and senior high schools, as well as three colleges, the Okayama Prefectural Lifelong Learning Center, a Children's Hall, Multi-use Sports Field and Okayama City Kominkan with an attached library.

2. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
The Kyoyama District of Okayama City is undertaking ESD-related activities as outlined by the "United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development" proposal of the 2002 Johannesburg Summit and subsequent UN resolutions. Environmental activities are carried out through an organization called Okayama Kyoyama ESD Environment Project (KEEP). The perspective of ESD includes everyone from all around the world as well as future generations, and the objective of ESD is to create persons (create regions) who are conscious of their relationship with the natural environment in which they live, and who take personal initiative to change society for the benefit of their community and the earth as a whole.

3. Objective of Activities
Activities are centered in the Okayama Municipal Kyoyama Kominkan, a public social education facility, involve environmental surveys and investigation, emphasizing the viewpoint of young persons, and are carried out through collaboration with academic and social organizations composed of persons of all generations. Through these activities, we are attempting to create a consciousness throughout the community as a whole regarding problems existing in the district and the shared nature of such problems. In this way, we are seeking measures to improve such problems as a community as well as create persons who will take responsibility for their own region through such local activities.

4. Description of Activities
In addition to surveys and investigations of the regional environment, activities orientated towards improving regional educational capabilities and strengthening bonds with the local community include an ESD Summit (general meeting of the whole region) that provides an interregional dialogue, workshops, eco-tours and an ESD Festival. The Okayama Kyoyama District ESD Promotion Council was established on July 8, 2006 in order to promote ESD on a wide level, not only the environmental aspects, throughout the whole region. The council has organized and promoted activities in FY 2007 such as "Okayama KEEP Study Group" planned and administered by junior and senior high school students, and "Movie Kyoyama" that aims to foster cinematographic memoirs of the region that can be passed on to future generations. Other activities have been carried out that seek not only to educate but to also realize changes towards creating a sustainable society such as the "Kyoyama Personal Shopping Bag Contest", and the Kyoyama ESD "Paths of Greenery and Water" that aims to realize regional sustainable development through ESD. This project has got certified as ESD Promotion Commission of the Ministry of the Environment in FY 2007.

5. Results of Activities
A junior high school student who participated in an ESD activity made the following comments: "As a result of participating in this activity, I came to realize that the rivers I see flowing everyday are connected to a vast number of people involved in agriculture, government and society in general. The environment is intimately related to human beings and our society. In addition to an involvement with the environment I feel that by participating in the Okayama KEEP activity I have developed a deeper connection with my local community. This is especially true in regards to learning together with persons of dSifferent generations as that experience made me feel like a member of this community for the first time and I experienced a surge of affection for Kyoyama. From now on, I will not cast a blind eye to my local environment and will try to consider solutions to problems that I find together with all members of the community". An elementary school student participating in this activity provided the following comment: "In addition to thinking about the environment, the Okayama KEEP activity evoked compassion for my community, something I had kind of forgotten about, and reminded me of the warmth of the people in that community". From such comments provided by elementary and junior high school students, one is left with the impression of how such activities foster concerned community members and develop their affection for that community, and also they reveal how ESD is slowly taking root in the area by fomenting the creation of sustainable communities.
Additionally, one child remarked that, "In school, I am reserved about expressing my opinion but this activity created an atmosphere in which I could freely express myself", showing that the number of children with their own opinions and can express them to other persons is growing. It is significant to note that an increasing number of children are deciding that their opinion is valuable and worth expressing without worry that it may be different from what others say or mistaken.

6. The Future of Sustainability
In the Kyoyama District, the circle of persons proactively participating in ESD is growing through actions such as the "Kyoyama ESD Fellowship" (Kyoyama District ESD Promotion Staff) recognition based on Kyoyama ESD certification. Under the motto of "100 persons taking one step is better than one person taking 100 steps", ESD will continue seeking to change the consciousness and common practices of members at all levels throughout the entire regional society, orientating it towards developing a sustainable society, as well as striving to cultivate members of society throughout the entire region who have a mindset of, "This is my hometown, this is where I live!" Furthermore, ESD will focus on actions taken by schools, Kominkan and similar organization, carried out through their own initiative, while also corresponding cooperative efforts between schools, and between schools and the region. Through such region-wide activities, ESD aims to create a community in which all residents have an interest and participate in the educational process.
At the Kyoyama District ESD Festival on January 27, 2008, an ESD special program titled "Straight Talk: My Own Personal Chopsticks or Disposable Chopsticks - Yes or No?" was planned and held by junior and senior high school students. At this event, a large number of participants were made to reflect on the relationship their lifestyle has with the current social structure in light of realizing a sustainable society, as well as fostering awareness of the necessity of sustainable actions that go beyond the realm of the merely environmental to include economic and social structure aspects. In this way, by providing young persons in the Kyoyama District with a vehicle for proactive action, their actions spur that of adults, and the community as a whole becomes active. By planting this seedling for the future, the community as a whole will carefully cultivate it, resulting in something that Kominkan in all regions should perhaps be striving towards.

* Okayama Municipal Kyoyama Kominkan
2-9-38 Ishima-cho, Okayama-shi
Tel/Fax: 086-253-8302

>> BACK <<