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Designing a Participatory Workshop to Implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Local Communities: A Case Study of Koriyama City, Fukushima, Japan
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have often been considered to have the possibility to change the governance structure of traditional development policies. However, legal requirements for achieving the SDGs have not yet been developed; it is necessary to have stakeholders in each country in order to develop strategies for setting issues and acquiring policy resources. In this context, local communities have attracted attention as a field in which SDGs strategies can be developed. Local governments are expected to encourage citizen participation to gather information about citizens’ needs for resolving regional challenges toward the achievement of SDGs. As a means of citizen participation toward achieving SDGs, Participatory Workshops (PWSs) were conducted in various local communities. A PWS is a suitable method to gather information about citizens’ subjective evaluation regarding regional challenges. Based on the information gathered through PWSs, goals that local communities should prioritize can be identified. Although many scholars and practitioners have conducted PWSs in local communities of developing countries, few practices have been done in economically advanced countries. In these countries, administrative procedures have been highly formulated, and hence, it is necessary to consider the planning, operation, and evaluation of PWSs in relation to the policies of local governments. At the planning and operation stage of PWSs, local governments should consider conventional policy procedures when introducing PWSs and SDGs. During a PWS evaluation, it is necessary to coordinate ongoing policy challenges and regional challenges with high priority among citizens. For planning SDGs strategies, we conducted PWSs in collaboration with local governments and Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) carrying out intermediate support activities in Koriyama city. The city was affected by the nuclear fallout from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. After the fallout, environmental restoration and industrial revitalization have been the core challenges. Population and urban functions are accumulated in this city. To adjust and coordinate with policies, the local government has been promoting collaboration with neighbouring municipalities where the population has declined. We conducted a PWS three times in 2018. We recruited participants for the PWS from the city government, public service corporations, NPOs, and private companies. In the PWS, participants were divided into several groups, and they discussed regional challenges and ideas for solving those challenges in Koriyama city from the perspective of SDGs. For analysing participants’ subjective evaluation of regional challenges, data were gathered from records of participants’ comments, post-event questionnaire survey, and post-event participants’ report assignments. It became clear that the PWS participants’ subjective evaluation of regional challenges corresponded with the conventional regional policy promoted by the local government. Moreover, the PWS participants expected to create an opportunity for the local government to have a dialogue with stakeholders from various sectors. To develop SDGs strategies in local communities, a PWS is not only a means to gather information about citizens’ needs regarding regional challenges but also an institution that could encourage cooperation among various stakeholders.