11th Kobe University Brussels Symposium promotes EU-Japan collaborations for green, sustainable societies

  • October 29, 2021
  • Info
  • Keywords: Info, International relations, Collaborations, Society, Policy, Environment


On October 20, the 11th Kobe University Brussels European Centre Symposium was held on the theme of ‘Green Horizons, Sustainable Futures: EU and Japan Research for Climate-Prepared, Resilient Societies’. This annual symposium is jointly organized with Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and on this occasion it was also made possible thanks to collaborative assistance from the University of Kent. The symposium was held in a hybrid format, conducted both in-person in Brussels as well as online. It attracted a total of around 170 attendees, including those in government-related positions in the EU and Japan, researchers, students and business people.

The event was co-chaired by YOSHIDA Ken-ichi, director of Kobe University’s Center for EU Academic Collaboration, and Patrick Vittet-Phillipe, the advisor to the university’s Brussel’s Office. The opening addresses were given by Kobe University’s President FUJISAWA Masato, VUB’s Rector Caroline Pauwels, H.E. MASAKI Yasushi (Ambassador of Japan to the European Union) and Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation. They shared their thoughts on the importance of strengthening Japan-EU cooperation in innovative research areas for the realization of the Japan-EU Green Alliance (agreed upon at the EU-Japan Summit in May 2021), and the European Green Deal policy initiatives set forth by the European Commission.

In their respective keynote speeches, Lisbon University Professor Paulo Ferrão and Director Elina Bardam (of the European Commission’s DG for Climate Action) spoke about economic metabolism and the transition towards green economies, and the climate change mitigation policies of the EU and individual countries.


 President Fujisawa  Rector Caroline Pauwels
Kobe University President
Caroline Pauwels
Vrije Universiteit Brussel Rector
 H.E Masaki Yasushi  Signe Ratso
H.E. MASAKI Yasushi
(Ambassador of Japan to the European Union)
Signe Ratso
(Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation)

Attendees were subsequently divided into three breakout sessions entitled: 1. Towards a Global Green Economy, 2. Breakthrough Technologies for Climate Solutions, and 3. Enabling Resilient, Climate-prepared Societies. These breakout sessions provided a platform for the latest research and policy initiatives to be presented and also gave the attending researchers and policy makers from the EU and Japan the opportunity to develop future prospective collaborations. In the afternoon, workshops were held on each of the session themes in order to promote deeper discussion. In each workshop, in-person attendees and online participants actively shared their opinions and engaged in question-and-answer sessions. It is hoped that these exchanges will lead to the development of joint research projects.

The closing addresses were given by Executive Vice President NAKAMURA Tamotsu, Jeremy Carette (Dean for Europe, University of Kent), and Hugo Thienpont (Vice-Rector for Innovation and Industry Relations, VUB). They expressed their appreciation to all who took part in-person or online, and voiced their hopes that widespread research collaborations borne from this event will form a basis for solving environmental issues.

Since it was established by Kobe University in 2010, the Kobe University Brussels European Centre (KUBEC) has served as an education and research hub in Europe, holding various academic events such as this symposium series and promoting academic exchange agreements with prestigious universities throughout Europe. The 11th symposium is the first major event that KUBEC has been able to hold since the coronavirus pandemic began last year, and is also the first to be offered in hybrid format. The event brought together a large number of diverse in-person and online participants. This was not only an opportunity for fostering deeper connections but also reconfirmed the importance of international academic exchange, and how such exchange has declined since the start of the pandemic. To build upon the successes of the symposium, a follow-up online workshop event was held on the next day entitled "New Opportunities for EU-Japan Research & Innovation Cooperation".

In the corona and post-corona eras, Kobe University will continue to leverage KUBEC as a base for promoting stronger academic and research collaborations between Japan and Europe.


(International Planning Division)