Jeffrey Brez & Kaoru Nemoto Discuss Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
It was back in September 2015 that the United Nations General Assembly in New York adopted its new “Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 goals aimed at creating a world where everyone has equal opportunities, where the global environment is protected, and for all the citizen’s of the world to live a better life.
Yoshimoto teamed up with United Nation’s representative in Japan, Kaoru Nemoto, at the Okinawa International Movie Festival in April 2017 and at Kyoto, she was joined by Jeffrey Brez,of the UN Department of Public Information in New York, to promote and discuss SDGs through laughter and smiles via a series of projects with Yoshimoto. Jeffrey Brez works on the Creative Community Outreach Initiative, which works with television and film to promote the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Even in Japan, one in 7 children live under the poverty line and women earn only three quarters of what me earn, and women’s representation at the Lower House of Parliament is less than ten percent, which is lower than half of the global average, so we have to do something,” said Nemoto, introducing the fact that even in industrial countries, there are many issues of inequality.
“When you hear it is 17 goals adopted at the United Nations, you think it is just the government, but this is everybody’s masterplan and everybody’s goal. But the UN is ont so good at telling stories to the people, that’s why I approached Yoshimoto to tell stories to get ordinary people interested,” said Nemoto.
Brez explained that SDGs are universal and for everyone and all countries, changing the focus from richer countries helping poorer countries. “The phrase we like to use is ‘leave no-one behind’ no matter what gender or sexual orientation” he said. “Because they are new, we have to start the work of implementation, and we also need the world to know about them, and that’s where television and film and storytellers can help us with visibility.”
“If you laugh at the same things then you get closer to the person with whom you laughed together” said Nemoto of her choice to collaborate with Yoshimoto. Nemoto grew up in Kobe and followed Yoshimoto comedians growing up. “Our wish is to reach new audiences that we otherwise would not reach,” added Brez.
Asked how the 17 goals can be applied to countries as disparate in their wealth and infrastructure as Japan and some of the poorest countries in the world, Brez explained that “across the board, all countries still have poverty, all have people living in hunger and all have inequality. There are no goals you can say does to apply to a country.”
“The effort to reduce and eradicate poverty has been around for many years with different rates of success in different countries. What’s important is for us to work with NGOs and grassroots organizations to reach the needs of the people, it has to be a group effort,” he added.
“In Japan there is no community or country team to support the Japan government,” said Nemoto. “There is an SDGs promotion headquarters chaired by Prime Minister Abe with participation of all the ministers, so we can see how serious the government is taking SDGs,” she added. There is a big business chance and we need to follow this common language, Japan has been a slow starter and only three goals have been achieved – education, economy growth, and technology. We have a lot of homework to do!.”
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