Co-design Approach for Local Sustainability Research Program

Research Program for Co-design Approach to Develop Environmental Solutions Toward Local Sustainability


We will work with local governments, local residents, and other key local community stakeholders to formulate co-design-based solutions for creating sustainable local communities based on cultural, societal, and scientific knowledge, and examine ways of supporting their implementation.

Four projects

Project 1 Research on sustainable local community implementation in partnership with the communities concerned

To achieve sustainability in communities whose characteristics and systems have already been studied, we will use our local community diagnostic tools to identify and endeavor to resolve issues by utilizing forests, ecosystems, transportation, tourism and other available resources in the community concerned. The possibilities for applying solutions to other communities will be explored. In the latter half of the program period, we will combine this research with Project 2 and other projects to assess the sustainability benefits of deploying biomass and other environmental technologies within local communities. In the 3rd year, focusing on localities such as Okuaizu, Lake Biwa, and outlying islands whose characteristics are already understood and environmental issues identified through previous research, we will identify community goals and further issues and obstacles to achieving those goals. In collaboration with Project 3, use our integrated local community diagnostic tools and other resources to evaluate the current circumstances of the communities concerned. We will work with local community stakeholders and the other projects to establish, by the 5th year, systems and organizations for creating sustainable local communities while taking into account existing goals and systems in the communities concerned.

Through these activities, we aim to develop guidelines for creating local community development roadmaps and structures according to community type using local community diagnostic tools and environmental technologies, and contribute to the proposal and implementation of goals and plans geared to local community sustainability.

Project 2  Proposal and evaluation of eco-efficient technologies and systems in partnership with local communities

We will work with local community stakeholders to propose desirable technologies and systems for waste and water treatment, transportation, and other areas according to local characteristics such as regional cities with conspicuously declining and aging populations. In concert with Project 1, we will also propose, verify the effectiveness, and support the social implementation of sustainable technologies and systems for achieving both local resource recycling and decarbonization in industrial cities, mountainous regions, and other specific types of communities. This will include thermal utilization and other areas in which there is still much room for improvement in environmental efficiency. We will share the knowledge gained from these activities with Project 3. Specifically, within about three years, we will build a partnership structure with local governments, businesses, universities/research institutes, private citizens, and other stakeholders to tackle local community issues closely related to the environment, including energy, resource recycling, water, and transportation. Under this structure, we will propose and discuss specific solutions that also consider such factors as demographic changes in the local community, and evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of those solutions. By about 5 years, we aim to present roadmaps for implementing effective measures and work with relevant parties to incorporate them into systems and plans drawn up by local governments and other parties and otherwise support their implementation in the local communities concerned.

Through these activities, we will work with local stakeholders to organize processes for planning and supporting the deployment of measures that utilize technologies and systems designed to contribute to environmental improvements and sustainability. This knowledge will be shared broadly with other local communities to promote the uptake of those measures.

Project 3 Building local community diagnostic tools for the simultaneous resolution of community and lifestyle issues and achievement of sustainability goals

We will construct a framework for qualitatively and quantitatively examining sustainable local community features and transition measures for each municipality. Visions will be developed for each local community based on sustainability requirements and the views and wishes of various stakeholders. We will also analyze structural aspects of lifestyles and behavior based on local characteristics and personal attributes as well as examine possibilities for transition to a pathway to the creation of sustainable local communities. Specifically, we will in the first three years develop models, evaluation methods, and other tools for diagnosing sustainability status based on local community needs and sustainability requirements. Environmental loads, environmental impacts, and benefits of measures will be evaluated by applying NIES models and other tools to socio-economic scenarios for each municipality, grid square, personal attribute, or other variable. By about the 5th year, we will use our diagnostic tools to conduct quantitative diagnoses on several communities that are being investigated in all four projects to improve the tools in a way that enables local government officials to use them. Gaps in in our sustainability evaluation process will be identified and the socio-economic scenarios will be improved.

Through these activities, we will develop frameworks and diagnostic tools for evaluating local community visions that address both sustainability and local community needs, contribute to shaping visions for sustainable local communities, and clarify transition roadmaps for achieving those visions.

Project 4 Building solutions for creating sustainable local communities and support for the deployment of systems

We will bring together the outcomes of Projects 1 to 3, integrate them with other projects and solicit the wishes and views of various stakeholders to organize them systematically and identify system proposals and transition measures that hold broad appeal. Concrete measures and technologies for resolving the issues of the local community concerned will be proposed and the deployment of systems supported. Through such activities, we will identify issues related to processes for creating sustainable local communities. Within about three years, we will organize and categorize issues in each community, and then formulate the requirements for making them sustainable in concert with Project 3. Based on results from diagnostic tools and other data, we will set sustainability goals, formulate methods for achieving those goals, and work with stakeholders to build systems acceptable to each local community. Within five years, we aim to be supporting the establishment of systems for creating sustainable local communities (incorporation into local government plans etc.) and evaluating public participation status and the probability of achieving the goals.

Through these activities, we will review systems for creating sustainable local communities and support methods, identify issues related to support, and otherwise contribute to the implementation of sustainable systems.

Through these initiatives, we will work with local governments and other local community stakeholders to co-design science-based solutions for resolving challenges to the creation of sustainable local communities and propose means of providing support aimed at establishing such solutions as achievable systems in local communities. We aim, as a result, to promote the creation of sustainable local communities in regions throughout Japan.