RENKEI Climate Change workshop 2018

Kenichi Aikawa

Building Japan-UK Research Collaboration Climate Change, Tokyo, 29-30 November 2018

This unique Japan-UK workshop brought together 50 of the brightest researchers from different backgrounds, generations, disciplines and sectors within RENKEI member universities in Japan and the UK in order to explore the potential for collaboration across academia, government and industry in tackling grand challenges in climate change.

Facilitated by Dr Jon Turner from the University of Edinburgh, the workshop was organised as part of a programme of events designed to kick-start the transformation of the UK-Japan academia-government-industry partnership. A major objective for this event was to take advantage of the strong RENKEI network and build new collaborative relationships between individuals and organisations. Workshop participants gained insights into the challenges faced by the UK and Japanese governments and industry. 

The workshop began with presentations by representatives from three leading Japanese businesses about key challenges they face. Dr Motohiro Honma from Japan Weather Association (JWA) introduced JWA’s approach as well as new challenges such as preventing food loss and risk assessment for food production. Mr Daisuke Kato from Tokio Marine Research Institute explained how recent extreme weather has affected the insurance business and outlined their research to create a more advanced approach to climate change and weather assessment. Ms Ikue Imabori from IHI Corporation spoke about how technological solutions for climate change, such as the conversion to renewable energy and the reduction of the impact of fossil fuels, could be brought about by collaboration between university and industry.  

The participants also gained insights into Japanese and UK government perspectives on climate change research priorities. Professor Yasuto Tachikawa (Kyoto University) talked about the recent flood disasters in Japan and introduced an adaptation strategy by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Professor Selina Stead (Newcastle University) gave an overview of the UK government’s commitment to reducing emissions and adapting to climate change and presented a government-funded project on the change in coral reefs due to climate change and effects on livelihoods. The workshop also included presentations by Dr Dajana Dzanovic (Newcastle University) and Ms Kei Ayukawa (Kyoto University) on research funding opportunities in Japan and the UK and the necessary steps in order to access these.

During the two-day workshop, participating researchers explored research themes of relevance to Japan and the UK and identified areas where partners could develop new research projects and collaborations between institutions and individuals. The workshop engaged researchers in discussions and activities in a non-traditional style and adopted design methodology to identify research problems. The research themes identified during the group discussions included resilience in city planning, interdisciplinary flood management, food security and sustainable agriculture, health management in climate change, adaptive policy-making under uncertainty, communicating uncertainty with regard to climate change predictions, communicating the importance and impact of science in remote areas, and the application of future design methodologies. 

A better understanding of the research strengths of institutions in Japan and the UK and networking with potential collaborators were among the clear outcomes of the event. One UK researcher commented, “I have become much better aware of the research and expertise in my field in Japanese universities, and I have been able to identify individual academics who would be key contacts if resources become available for joint efforts.” 

The workshop facilitated the creation of expert partnerships ready to respond to both industry and government needs in collaboration with RENKEI’s universities. The results of the workshop include: 

  • Nagoya University and the University of Liverpool are moving towards a research partnership agreement on sustainable development
  • Dr Faith Chan from the University of Nottingham, Ningbo and Professor Daisuke Komori from Tohoku University plan to further develop research collaboration on coastal flood risk management 
  • Ph.D student mobility is being planned 

The workshop also contributed to the development of early career researchers, in terms of developing networking and collaboration skills in an international research setting, becoming more aware of challenges, and gaining opportunities for interdisciplinary work. 

Finally, the workshop enabled researchers to identify six themes in climate change to further develop research collaborations between the member universities. These themes are: 

  • Low carbon societies and green infrastructure
  • Future risks and adaptation in floods and water shortage
  • Future risks and adaptation in food production and security
  • Managing future risks and building resilience in urban areas
  • Future risks and adaptation in ecosystems
  • Future risks and adaptation in human health

Building partnerships today means we will be better positioned tomorrow to collaborate in creating solutions to the problems of climate change. Researchers from RENKEI’s 12 member universities will meet in the UK (Newcastle University) in December 2019 and engage in dialogues aiming at new collaborations. 

Lead universities:

  • Kyoto University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Newcastle University