On October 18th 2019, a month after the successful TICAD VII summit held in the city of Yokohama, Japan, the UNDP Regional Bureau of Africa (RBA), in New York, received a group of 36 students from SEISA junior and high schools who are friends of TICAD. The SEISA school, located in Yokohama, is an academic institution that prides itself in bringing together actors across Africa, Asia and Japan. In 2018, collaborating with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Environment, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the embassies of more than 20 African countries, SEISA students organized a successful event, the 4th “SEISA Africa Asia Bridge,” that aimed at creating a peaceful world together as friends of Japan, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
The SEISA school visit was organized by the UNDP RBA TICAD Unit, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Japan, and was attended by Dr. Toshiya Hoshino, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations in New York; Ms. Ayako Ito of PMJ; and United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (UNOSAA) as a TICAD CO-organizer with the participation of Mr. Raul de Melo Cabral, Chief of the Coordination Advocacy and Programme Development Branch.
At this occasion, the SEISA students enjoyed a brief presentation from the UNDP RBA team, covering the subjects of UNDP’s role as a trusted development partner of the Government of Japan; the scope of UNDP’s work on the ground, globally, and in Africa; as well as development progress on the continent. The Strategic Advisor to UNDP Africa, Ms. Eunice Kamwendo, welcomed the group, while expressing sadness on the devasting effects of the recent typhoon hagibis in Japan. Ambassador Hoshino spoke of the role and mandate of the United Nations, the Permanent Mission of Japan to United Nations, and strongly encouraged students to visit, discover and experience Africa beyond literature and social media. Mr. Raul de Melo Cabral of UNOSAA, as TICAD Co-organizer and the one mandated to be the Global Advocates for Africa, gave a talk of TICAD historic evolution since 1993 and described how the narrative of Africa today has changed since the genesis of TICAD to a very positive and optimistic one.
“A great encouragement for students which could shape future engagements of our students towards SDGs” said the Program Director, Ms. Kuniko Sasaki of SEISA school. A representative of SEISA students, Ms. Miu Horie presented the SEISA Africa Asia Bridge Student Declaration and recalled their mission with three core values: “Understand each other,” “Leave nobody out,” and “Make friends.”
“Interesting to note that your core values have a lot of similarities with the core principles of the SDGs” said the RBA Strategic Advisor, drawing parallels with the leave-no-behind principle of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Ms. Kamwendo also congratulated the SEISA school for their dedication in bridging together Africa-Asia-Japan and SDGs. “Most important of all, we see students and your generation as the future leaders of our world, with the future of corporation of Africa-Asia-Japan and TICAD depending on you.” Said Mr. Cabral of UNOSAA.
UNDP and Kanagawa Prefecture are bonded by a powerful synergy to strengthen SDG localization efforts. The prefecture of Kanagawa is leading in promoting the SDGs within its local government. Recognizing the SDGs as key enablers to achieving its development objectives, Kanagawa connected a variety of stakeholders through an initial “SDGs All-Japan Meeting,” which led to an “SDG Japan Model” and the ongoing implementation of the “Kanagawa SDGs Action Plan.” During the TICAD VII Yokohama summit, UNDP and Kanagawa Prefecture co-organized a side-event to showcase the importance of multi-sectoral partnerships, localization, and innovation linking to the aspirational experience demonstrated in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Discussions with the students laid emphasis on the importance of youth leadership and efforts to bridge collaboration between Asia and Africa. The RBA Strategic Advisor stated that Africa is open for business and that conditions have changed. For the Regional Bureau Africa, investing in youth is one of the strategic focus areas in order to turn this large labor force into a demographic dividend for the continent. Currently, 60% of Africa’s population is under 25 years of age. Ms. Kamwendo concluded the session with an encouragement for a successful planning of the 5th “SEISA Africa Asia Bridge” to be held on 9th and 10th November 2019 and expressed her wishes to meet with students next time in Africa.