News Archive
Jul 17, 2015 - Rethinking Sustainability through Activism, Advocacy and Private-Sector Partnerships
The Panelists

Peace Boat Guest Educator Binka Le Breton, (President and Director, Amigos de Iracambi) came to Tokyo for a speaking tour in mid-July. As part of this tour, a panel discussion about Rethinking Sustainability was organised at Sophia University. It was hosted by Professor David Slater and the Institute of Comparative Culture (ICC) and facilitated by Sarajean Rossitto and People for Social Change (PSC) . The four panelists examined the idea of sustainability and discussed different approaches towards achieving a sustainable world through the lenses of their own work.

Binka le Breton and Iracambi

Binka le Breton, President, Director, Amigos de Iracambi

Binka delivered the plenary address which focused on the importance of the planet's forests, particularly the Amazon rainforest, which serves as "the lungs" of the Earth. She discussed her organization Iracambi's work deep in the Amazon jungle and how she hopes it will contribute towards creating a more sustainable future. Iracambi is a catalyst for community action, welcoming dozens of researchers, students and volunteers every year to work with local residents, to replant decimated forests and to support the livelihoods and defend the rights of indigenous communities. The remote educational facility prides itself in its biocentric outlook and ability to get people together away from the distractions of modern life to really tackle the most pressing issues in today's world. In her presentation, Binka expressed the importance of democracy and finding ways to make a living with the forest rather than at its expense.

Sato Junichi presenting

Sato Junichi, Executive Director, Greenpeace Japan

Greenpeace is a global organization that tries to give a voice to the underrepresented ecosystems of the world. During the panel discussion, Junichi talked about one of Greenpeace's recent projects concerning the fragility of our fisheries and the lack of awareness of this issue. Specifically, he referred to the dangers face by the Blue Fin Tuna and the Japanese Eel, both endangered species but also still popular delicacies of Japanese cuisine. He also spoke about an ongoing Greenpeace project in which the organization works directly with supermarkets to encourage sustainably sourced seafood. In this way, Greenpeace hopes to encourage a positive change in corporate behavior through public rating systems.

Pania Lincoln and PangeaSeed Japan

Pania Lincoln, Regional Director, PangeaSeed Japan

A Tokyo-based non-governmental organization, PangeaSeed Japan works together with creative individuals and groups to educate the general public about the plight of sharks and marine conservation. Pania spoke about the the common misconceptions and vilification of sharks, their importance in the greater oceanic ecosystem, and the impact of finning on shark populations. Between 60-100 million sharks are killed every year for their fins which are considered a delicacy and status symbol in parts of Asia. Pania also spoke about ARTivism and other alternative methods of encouraging positive social change. She proposed that such positive, contemporary and inclusive approaches towards tackling the issue of sustainability could help create a "hip" social movement that people want to join.

Yuko Omura showing her love for dugong

Yuko Omura, International Coordinator, Peace Boat

Yuko spoke about foreign military bases in Okinawa, and Peace Boat's ongoing activities to raise awareness and campaign on this issue. 74% of all US military bases in Japan are concentrated on the islands of Okinawa, which make up less than 1% of Japan's total land mass. This unfair burden results in a host of social problems and concerns including, but not limited to noise pollution, military training accidents and crime. The presence of the bases is also extremely damaging to the rich biodiversity of Okinawa.Despite strong local and national opposition, plans to relocate the Futenma air base to the pristine waters of Henoko Baythreaten to destroy a diverse reef ecosystem, including the main migration path of the Pacific Dugong.

The panelists' presentations were followed by an impassioned question and answer session in which youth engagement, the culture of revolution and the diverse tactics for inciting change were discussed.

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