The March 11, 2011, disaster drove home that there is a limit to disaster prevention measures that rely solely on engineering technology. It showed us the need to create communities with a high degree of resilience that can dodge the power of nature when needed. In other words, we must create “a society that can live in harmony with nature.”
Much of the stricken areas are made up of rural land and ocean that coexists with nearby populated areas where people have lived in harmony with nature since ancient times. The links between forests, rivers and the ocean have provided humans with the blessings of nature. We must aim at rebuilding farming and fishing communities that link such land and the ocean. Doing so would also contribute to the advancement of tourism that offers nature’s charm as it is.
In response to a proposal by the Central Environment Council, the Environment Ministry came up with a plan for a “Sanriku reconstruction national park” that reorganizes national and quasi-national parks situated in an area of about 300 kilometers between Aomori and Miyagi prefectures. It is also based on the idea to link land and sea near human dwellings.
If long nature trails are built, they can be used as escape routes to higher land when a tsunami strikes. Another idea is to build a “Sanriku geopark” where people can learn about the signs of earthquakes and tsunami. The use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power is also under consideration. The project is based on the idea to position the entire region as a “nature museum.” The concept is expected to take shape by next spring.
It is very important that Japan shares such ideas with the world, which can learn from the Japanese method of reconstruction to make use of natural capital.
Moreover, the building of a new society through reconstruction can be a model of a “green economy” that aims at achieving economic growth while protecting nature.
(Kazuhiko Takeuchi is vice rector of United Nations University)
- « Prev
- Next »