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Art & Design

Design for SDGs in Fukuoka

Art & Design, Japan News

Hey there CICLO readers! This is Melisa. It’s been a while since my last post. The past two months have been crazy (moving from Tokyo to Fukuoka and starting a new job). Now that I am a bit settled into my new place, I want to continue building a sustainability-focused community here in Fukuoka. I am working on a small project now (more details will be released later on) but for now, I would like to introduce a great event held here in Fukuoka every year since 2016. It is called Global Goal Jam and it is held in Kyushu University, Faculty of Design, Ohashi Campus in Fukuoka city. The event was titled “Design for SDGs in Fukuoka/Global Goals Jam 2019“. We were welcomed with warm and smiling faces from Dr. Yanfang Zhang and Assistant Professor Tokushu Inamura, both part of the Faculty of Design at Kyushu University and organizers of this great workshop-style event. Continue reading to learn more about this SDGs related event using design as a method to create social impact.

What is Global Goals Jam?

Global Goals Jam (GGJ) was founded by Marco van Hout, Anneke van Woerden and Gijis Gootjes from the Digital Society School in the Netherlands, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The year 2016 was their initial start year with 17 participating cities, including Fukuoka city. Last year, more than 70 cities participated and this year marks over 85 cities all over the world participating in GGJ events.


GGJ is a two-day workshop-style event taking place before Climate Week in September every year. It is meant to bring fresh, new and innovative ideas from students, organizations, industries, designers using a brainstorming and teamwork style approach. Industries and local communities can come together to solve social and environmental problems related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) created by the UN in 2015. The main goal of this event is to create a network of cities and organizations that are excited to engage their local communities to bring real impact for the SGDs. Local organizers including universities, design labs, NGOs or consultancies can all apply to host a Jam in their city.

GGJ Fukuoka: Design for SDGs in Fukuoka

The GGJ in Fukuoka took place on September 21-22 this year with an introductory seminar on September, 20th. GGJ Fukuoka has been hosting this event since 2016 and continues to create a strong community. The hosts for this event were Dr. Yanfang Zhang and Assistant Professor Tokushu Inamura, both part of the Faculty of Design at Kyushu University. The event merged with the annual Universal City Fukuoka Design Workshop started in 2012 to bring a stronger local relevance and global perspectives for social impact. The motto of the Universal Fukuoka City initiative is “Friendly people, Friendly city”, aiming to bring inclusion and global contribution from the residents of Fukuoka city. The Universal and Inclusive Design approach fit so well with the GGJ ethos that it was decided best to run as a joint event. The themes for this year’s Jam included SDGs #11-14 (Sustainable Cities/Communities, Sustainable Consumption, Climate Change and Conserving our Oceans).


CICLO’s Commentary: What is our take on this event?

As we entered the design commons of the Kyushu University, Arts and Design Campus, we were greeted with warm smiles and friendly faces from Inamura and Zhang. The atmosphere was very inviting and we felt comfortable talking to other participants freely, creating the sense of a great and inviting community. The event began with a few words regarding the goals of this year’s workshop, local organizers and greetings from collaborating Jammers in Australia via Skype. It surprised me to see that they are also willing to bring fresh ideas from collaborating with other participating cities.


This year’s themes consisted of tackling the following social problems directly affecting people in Fukuoka:

  • How to promote more tourism and reduce food loss from farming in the city of Ukiha in Fukuoka Prefecture (mostly know for cultivating persimmons)
  • Creating fashionable wear that is more accessible for people in wheelchairs
  • Coming up with creative ideas to develop a sustainable community, increase economic flow and encourage people to spend time in the  aging Yabakei region in Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture
  • Ways to increase tourism to the small town of Imajuku in Fukuoka Prefecture via its local bus route


Once the topics were introduced, participants were separated into their groups. Fresh new minds comprising of designers, activists, business people, university, secondary school and middle school students, came together to create new, great ideas to tackle these local problems. The first day includes brainstorming ideas and the second day includes presentations from each participating group. The best idea from the chosen team wins a beautiful trophy named the BEST GLOBAL DESIGN OF 2019. This year, Team Yabakei tackled the problem in Nakatsu City and took the top prize!


Final words about GGJ in Fukuoka

We really enjoyed taking part in this event as guests this year. We were able to make some great connections and talked with awesome sustainable-minded people in our new local community here in Fukuoka. I think the best part of this event (and overall about the city of Fukuoka) is that there is a strong connection between the local government and the local community, including Kyushu University. Some people might think, “Well what happens to those ideas after the event? Are they really implemented later on?” And the truth is, because there is a strong tie between the local community and the city are being continued, and taking steps to become reality. For example the Project Baby BnB from a previous Jam, is now looking to start it’s pilot with support of the startup wing of the city.

If more and more cities around Japan took part in this event and had as great of a connection to their local community, as Fukuoka does, I think we would be able to tackle the SDGs by 2030. For more information, see the link to the Global Goals Jam website to see if there is an event taking place near you. For our readers in Tokyo, I will leave the link down below for the Global Goal Jam event there. Until next time!

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