A Future Outlook for 2100 As Depicted by Children

What will the city of Tokyo look like in 100 years? Here, we take a look at the unfettered ideas of children who will play the leading role in the cities of the future.

Building the Bay Area of the Future with Unfettered and Childlike Ideas

Facing the global crises of climate change and infectious disease, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has set out an urban vision called the Tokyo Bay eSG Project. This grand project aims to create a sustainable city that is both people- and environmentally friendly by combining advanced technologies with the pursuit of a "zero emission" reality, contributing to the goal of global net zero CO2 emissions.

In building a model city for the future with an eye to the next 100 years, the perspective of the children who will be the bearers of said future is essential. That is why the Tokyo Metropolitan Government held a painting contest for elementary school students with "The Bay Area of the Future" as its theme from June to September 2021, with a great number of unfettered and childlike ideas submitted.

"Let's Go on an Underwater Train!" by Akishima City Fujimigaoka Elementary School first grader Ota Meru. Best Prize in the first and second grade division.
"Convenient and Friendly! The Colorful Bay Area!" by Koto City Mouri Elementary School fifth grader Tsurishima Wakana. Best Prize in the fifth and sixth grade division.

In November that same year, the Best Prize winners from the painting contest were also invited to visit Minato City's LEGOLAND Discovery Center Tokyo, where an event was held in which the children built the city of the future using colorful plastic building bricks.

By using bricks, children's unbridled ideas were materialized, and "The Bay Area of the Future" depicted in the painting contest was expressed in three dimensions. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government's aim is to encourage children to have fun while creating the city of the future.

A scene from the day of the event.

SDGs Education Spreading in Schools

The LEGO Group is known for its commitment to education and the environment. They promote STEAM education (education that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, arts and culture, and math perspectives) through creative play so that children can acquire skills needed for the future. Moreover, by starting development on products that use sustainable materials, and through other similar initiatives, they are striving to build a better global environment for future generations.

The Royal Danish Embassy and the LEGO Group co-hosted a forum at the embassy located in Shibuya City on November 22, 2021. Their objective was for multiple stakeholders involved in the circular economy, including youth, schools, educators, experts, policy makers, and businesses from both Japan and Denmark, to share their international findings and promote discussion.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government introduced the Tokyo Bay eSG Project, its vision for building the future of Japan out of Tokyo Bay as part of the city's urban planning for the next 100 years. Following this, four schools from Japan presented on the environmental actions they are taking at school.

The Royal Danish Embassy. Discussions were held both in person and through video conferencing.

Yoga Junior High School in Setagaya City, Tokyo, one of the schools to present, implemented initiatives related to Goal 14 of the SDGs, "Life below water," as they found many students were lacking sufficient knowledge of the sea. They invited lecturers to help students learn about the marine environment surrounding bonito and kelp and conducted remote lessons with the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan as part of the Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project) by the Nippon Foundation, deepening their understanding of the ocean.

The student in charge of the presentation concluded by saying, "The marine environment will become even worse if we don't do anything about it. It's important that we don't stop at just learning about the issue, but move forward with subsequent action. We want to focus on the everyday things we can do, like carrying around reusable bags and not littering."

Interest in the Environment High Among Children

According to a survey conducted among more than 6,000 children between the ages of eight and 18 across seven countries around the world, an extremely large number of children are concerned about climate change. In particular, Japanese children were distinct in that 37% were concerned about "what they can do for the environment in the future," a figure higher than other countries. In other words, Japanese children sense firsthand that the SDGs are not just a passing fad, but an issue that will be passed on to them as they grow up.

The new curriculum guidelines, introduced from the 2020 school year for elementary schools, the 2021 school year for junior high schools, and the 2022 school year for senior high schools, call for education that "fosters the builders of a sustainable society." Emphasis will be put on this type of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) in the classroom moving forward.

Lizum Mishra, Senior Director - Government and Public Affairs, Asia Pacific at the LEGO Group, made a statement at the forum at the embassy, saying, "It's important to create a pathway for children to have hope in the future. To provide the chance for people to get involved in opportunities that can create positive change. To ensure that the voices of children are reflected in policy-related decision making."

Children are the most important stakeholders in the planet's future. In order to build a sustainable world, it is essential to heed their voices as they are the ones who will play the leading role in society from 2030.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is planning to accelerate its efforts by considering the use of digital technology to bring out the free thinking and ideas of children who have great potential.

Tokyo Bay eSG Project

A project set in the Tokyo Bay Area as a vision for the city's urban development over the next 50 to 100 years. Version 1.0 established in April 2021. In February 2022, TMG will release an upgrade to accelerate its efforts and clearly state its future plans to achieve the world's most advanced cities.

Japan - Denmark Dialogue Forum: Joining Forces with Youth to Re-Build the World

1. Overview
Held on November 22, 2021 at the Royal Danish Embassy (in person and online). Co-hosted by the Royal Danish Embassy and the LEGO Group with the aim of promoting discussion among multiple stakeholders involved in the circular economy regarding its future direction, as well as the measures and policy frameworks needed, while incorporating the voices and opinions of youth leading the next generation.

2. Presentations were given by participants on the following initiatives, followed by a panel discussion.
- Presentation on Denmark's unique approach to the circular economy (Peter Taksøe-Jensen, Ambassador of Denmark to Japan).
- Knowledge sharing from the latest global study on the relationship between the circular economy and children, the leaders of the next generation (LEGO Group).
- Presentation on the Tokyo Bay eSG Project: Urban planning for the next 100 years.
- Building the future of Japan out of Tokyo Bay (Tokyo Metropolitan Government).
- Introduction of case studies on children's initiatives in schools (four Japanese junior and senior high schools).

Writing by Ajiro Natsuko / Translation by Amitt
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