Summary of results of the International Energy Seminar "Smart Community Proposals for Reconstructing the Disaster-Affected Areas"

March 2, 2012

On Friday, March 2, an International Energy Seminar, "Smart Community Proposals for Reconstructing the Disaster-Affected Areas," was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; and the Ministry of the Environment in Iizaka, Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture. The Seminar was also co-hosted by Fukushima Prefecture and supported by the Reconstruction Agency, Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, and the Japan Smart Community Alliance. About 430 people attended the Seminar, including residents, students, and local government officials of the affected areas like Fukushima Prefecture, ambassadors and members of embassies and international organizations in Tokyo, and experts from enterprises and research institutes. Under the theme "The world’s wisdom for the disaster-affected areas, the disaster-affected areas’ activities for the world," topics such as what are ‘smart communities,’ and how can communities be rebuilt in the affected areas were actively discussed by experts from Japan and abroad. Based on such discussion, a "Smart Communities Initiative for Reconstructing the Disaster-Affected Areas" was released.

1. Opening Session

At the opening of the Seminar, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, made an opening address by video. Subsequently, a message from Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations who is promoting a "Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative, to express his assent to the Seminar and encourage those who were affected by the earthquake, was read by Ms. Mari Yamashita, Director of United Nations Information Centre in Tokyo.

2. Keynote Speeches

Ambassador Richard Jones, Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr. Shuzo Murakami, President of the Institute of Building Environment and Energy Conservation (IBEC), and Mr. Kimio Yamaka, President of the Institute of Energy Strategy made keynote speeches respectively under the titles of "International Trend of Smart Communities," "Encouragement of the Promotion of Smart Communities –for early reconstruction," and "Roles of Smart Community for Low Carbon Society and Green Growth."

3. Panel Discussion I "Leading-edge Projects in Japan and abroad"

First of all, for the purpose of sharing the wisdom of the world with the affected areas, leading approaches for smart communities in the Netherlands, Denmark, EU, the United States (Texas and Colorado), the United Arab Emirates, Kita-kyushu City, and Minato City of Tokyo were introduced. Then, opinions were actively exchanged on: 1) what smart communities are; 2) who will bear the expenses for the promotion of projects and how expenses should be regarded; 3) how citizens are involved in projects; 4) what the biggest challenges to promoting projects are; and 5) messages and proposals for the disaster-affected areas.

4. Panel Discussion II "Smart Community Proposals for Reconstruction"

Then, discussions were held by experts on smart communities, renewable energy, and community building, including those who were recommended by the affected areas on: 1) what the necessities and attractions (conveniences) of smart communities are for those who were affected by the disaster, the major players of reconstruction; 2) what is required to help smart communities maintain the areas over the next 10 or 20 years from an economic viewpoint; 3) how process and human resource development for the planning of smart community projects should be; 4) what smart communities can be introduced as a showcase and exported to the world; 5) what kinds of plans are required to contribute to the economy and employment of the areas; and 6) how smart communities should be in the disaster-affected areas and what expectations toward smart communities are.

5. Smart Community Initiatives for Reconstruction of the Affected Areas

To wrap-up the Seminar, moderators of panel discussions I and II released the following initiative based on the above-mentioned discussions.

A Tohoku Smart Community Initiative
towards the Reconstruction of the Disaster-Affected Areas

~Gather global wisdoms in Tohoku, and spread a new Tohoku community model to the world~

  • We will realize a smart community model for the purpose of creating a community that is safe, environmental friendly, full of attraction and vitality for the citizens living and working there, and is sustainable over generations.
  • Responding to heartwarming supports extended to Tohoku from countries all over the world in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, we will disseminate our efforts and progress of realizing smart community projects as a part of our endeavor for reconstruction, as well as demonstrate a new model of a smart community which will take shape through these projects. In doing so, we will contribute to providing solutions to the international community’s challenges such as realizing sustainability, disaster prevention and low-carbon society
  • The following five elements will be crucial for the regional community model: 1) citizens at the center; 2) the ensuring of security and safety; 3) the promotion of renewable energy; 4) the creation of new industries and employment; and 5) the compatibility of economic efficiency and comfort. This kind of model should be shared with the world, and a contribution should be made to international society.

6. Closing Session

Mr. Yasuji Komiyama, Director, Smart Community Policy Office, Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Department, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Mr. Tokuya Wada, Senior Policy Coordinator, Climate Change Policy Division, Global Environment Bureau, the Ministry of the Environment stated that through this Seminar they once again recognized the importance of smart communities for the reconstruction of the a disaster-affected areas and that they hope to keep supporting the reconstruction of the areas in the future as much as possible.

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