HU Peace Study Tour 2023: Collaboration in Natural Resource Management – Advancing Positive Peace and the SDGs

As a part of its 75th anniversary commemorative initiative in 2024, Hiroshima University organized this Peace Study Tour – a joint summer program under the theme “Collaboration in Natural Resource Management – Advancing Positive Peace and the SDGs” with the collaboration of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) and Columbia University (CU) and support by the Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability (NERPS). The joint summer program lasted for a week, starting on the 31st of July 2023 and ending on the 8th of August 2023. The participants consisted of a total of 27 students and three faculty members from overseas universities. Among the student participants were ten students from Hiroshima University, six students from Columbia University, eight students recommended by Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and three from Hiroshima University partner university in Japan.

A group photo of participants of the Hiroshima University Peace Study Tour on their first day. 

Researchers from all over the world have proven increasing conflict between different stakeholders in sharing natural resources, which shows the importance of collaboration between those stakeholders and working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. This joint summer program’s core purpose was to educate future stakeholders regarding collaborating on natural resources.

An outline of the joint summer program is as follows. On 31st July 2023, the program started with the opening ceremony, with the welcome speech by one of the organizers and NERPS Director, Prof. Shinji Kaneko, Executive Vice President for Global Initiatives, and Prof. Joshua Fisher, Columbia University in the City of New York, and followed by the introduction of participants. Following that, insightful lectures were conducted about the overview of SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities & Communities), 14 (Life Under Water), 15 (Life on Land), and 16 (Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions).

The students participated in a range of activities including lectures, workshops, field visits, symposium, and excursions. This helped the students gain a theoretical and practical understanding of collaboration in natural resource management. Field visits included Saijo Sake Brewery Street, Akitsu Bay, a trek at the Setonaikai National Park, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Miyajima. At the Sake Brewery Street, participants learned how the water quality is kept up for making Sake. It starts with forest management in the mountains and ends in Akitsu Bay in Seto Inland Sea. This was an excellent chance for the students to see how SDGs are applied in different parts of Hiroshima and how they are interconnected between local, government, and private actors.

Another highlight of the field trips was the Hiroshima Chuo Eco Park tour, regarded as Japan’s one of the advanced waste recycling plants. Participants were given a valuable opportunity to participate in discussions with facility managers actively, helping them better understand the collaborative efforts among various stakeholders in managing natural resources.

The participants also had a valuable experience participating in the 78th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing in Hiroshima. Participants had the privilege of listening to Ms. Keiko Ogura’s firsthand account of her experience as a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor). Her life experiences and living memories reminded the participant of the catastrophic consequences that arise from the use of nuclear weapons. This also taught the students the importance of continuing to take action toward banning nuclear weapons.

The joint summer program ended with the participants’ group presentation and closing ceremony with awarding of the certificate for the Peace Study Tour participants. Dr. Joshua Fisher gave the closing remarks, saying he is optimistic that the students will bring back the valuable insights gained from participating in the joint summer program. He also mentioned that successful peacebuilding and achieving sustainability requires long-term engagement and sustained collaboration despite the scarce resources and diplomatic challenges.

Participants are awarded a certificate of completion for their active participation in the program.

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Report written by Aathirai Thevarajah