Collaboration
xSDG Laboratory and Consortium:
Sharing Visions and Accelerating Action on SDGs

The xSDG Laboratory seeks to amass SDGs-related best practice by using the SDGs to design solutions to a range of complex social problems. The “x” represents the crossing of various social activities with SDGs to create cutting-edge, superior examples of action for achieving specific targets.

If you are finding it hard to ascertain how best to tackle the myriad targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), you are not alone. The underlying aim of the SDGs is to ensure no one is left behind; and all individual nations and stakeholders are expected to take action on a variety of levels to help promote that aim. SDGs awareness and understanding among private corporations is gradually improving in Japan, but many are still feeling their way when it comes to deciding how exactly to implement them.

Against that background, the Keio Research Institute at the Shonan-Fujisawa Campus (SFC) set up the xSDG Laboratory in October 2017 and the xSDG Consortium in June 2018, to create superior examples of action designed to achieve SDGs; and, in so doing, build a solid intellectual foundation for future progress.

The Keio Research Institute at SFC (KRIS) serves as a platform to promote open innovation through industry-government-academia cooperation. KRIS works hard to tackle unforeseen problems that could haunt modern society by organizing an interdisciplinary group research laboratory, and a research consortium aiming to promote collaboration with industry and local authorities.

KRIS is already standing at the forefront of the nation’s advanced research. The “x” in the KRIS xSDG Laboratory and xSDG Consortium represents the crossing of various social activities — such as corporate action, public initiatives, consumption and investment, and IoT — with SDGs to create cutting-edge, superior examples of action for achieving specific targets, and convey them across Japan and other parts of the world.

The xSDG Laboratory seeks to ascertain and amass SDGs-related best practice by using the SDGs as an entry point for designing solutions to a diverse range of complex social problems. Laboratory members, primarily from KRIS, get together to conduct research, while also pursuing joint research with industry and government to develop tailor-made solutions to individual issues.

The Laboratory’s joint industry research explores and supports the implementation of SDGs action strategies based on an academic foundation — which includes medium- to long-term management based on SDGs, the analysis and formulation of businesses to be included in ESG investment, and the development of indices to measure social impacts.

The joint government research promotes the creation of new indices for evaluating public authorities’ performance vis-à-vis SDGs and diagnosing those authorities to create added value in non-urban areas.

Meanwhile, the xSDG Consortium invites companies and public authorities to join as research members (for an annual fee) — or “vision-sharing partners” (VSP) — to share ideas and cooperate for the future.

One of the consortium’s main activities is to hold meetings, which share specialist knowledge from experts on a certain topic and encourage debate, opinion exchange and workshops on latest policy trends by relevant ministries. The consortium also provides and exchanges information on international SDGs trends, as well as examples of initiatives, indices and policies underway in Japan.

In addition, the consortium sets up issue-specific subcommittees to dig deeper into certain topics; and create cross-industry standards, targets and action plans together with local government. The consortium currently has active subcommittees on finance assessment, the global plastic problem, and several other topics.

Furthermore, the consortium is carving collaborative relationships between companies, regional authorities, relevant ministries, NPOs and NGOs, and pressing ahead with programs to achieve the SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals.

Another consortium function is to hold symposiums and advice sessions for VSPs looking to formulate their own SDGs-focused action plans.

Image credit: SUSCOM

As an illustration of its recent activities, on September 6, 2019, the xSDG Laboratory submitted a proposal to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its revision of the SDGs implementation guiding principles. The document was compiled by volunteer members of the SDGs Promotion Roundtable Meeting with the participation of stakeholders aiming to further SDGs implementation in Japan, and the xSDG Laboratory served as operating secretariat.

Later that same month, the xSDG Laboratory supervised the publication of the 2019 SDGs White Paper. The first such white paper in Japan, the volume seeks to organize SDGs initiatives and indicators in Japan, and accelerate future activities.

Building on these efforts, on September 23, we held a KRIS xSDG Laboratory and xSDG Consortium symposium in New York entitled Essence for Successful Actions Towards Achieving the SDGs, which was timed to coincide with the UN General Assembly. Several industry and government members introduced initiatives at the symposium including xSDG Laboratory representative director Norichika Kanie, a professor from the Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance, and representatives from All Nippon Airways Holdings, Rakuten, Shizuoka City and other companies and authorities participating in the xSDG Consortium.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals encompass a daunting 169 targets, which makes it extremely hard for individuals, companies and local authorities to determinedly tackle and resolve those complex issues alone. xSDG activities are designed to serve as a central hub that can illustrate many successful examples of dedicated action to the broader world, and help contribute to the solid achievement of the SDGs. Expectations are mounting that the xSDG Laboratory and xSDG Consortium will act as a vehicle to boost the implementation of SDGs in Japan.

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