Commencement Address by Junko Hibiya, President

Update: July 4, 2016

Graduates of the College of Liberal Arts, master's and doctoral degree programs, congratulations! Permit me to offer my heartfelt greetings to the families, relatives and friends of the graduates.

On April 15, 2016, Mr. Tetsuo Kondo, Director of the United Nations Development Programme came to ICU. Not only did he give a wonderful lecture entitled "Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - The Future We Want -," he kindly held a closed session with the Rotary Peace Fellows, some of whom are graduating today. As many of you know, the 2030 'Agenda for Sustainable Development' was adopted at the Summit on September 25, 2015 on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that I referred to in my matriculation address a few years ago, this agenda includes the 17 time-bound goals and 169 targets with the deadline of 2030.

Focusing on the third goal, "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages" and the tenth goal, "Reduce inequality within and among countries," Mr. Kondo explained the concrete targets that each goal has set out. The former includes, "by 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births," "by 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases" and "by 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and the air, water and soil pollution and contamination." The latter includes, "by 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average," "by 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status," and "facilitate orderly and safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies." These targets will be monitored and reviewed using a set of global indicators. Mr. Kondo stressed the importance of a solid framework of indicators and statistical data.

Other goals include ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equity, improving access to education, ensuring sustainable consumption, fostering innovation, taking action to combat climate change and protect the environment, and promoting peace and justice for everybody. These are the challenges that need immediate attention. We cannot ignore these issues in the world.

Earlier, a passage from the Gospel according to Luke was read. Already much has been given to all of you who are in this chapel today. That is quite clear if we look at the targets listed under the fourth goal regarding education, such as "by 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes," and "by 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy." You, who are graduating today, are fortunate enough to have completed your higher education here. Much will be required from you.

Acknowledging those who are less fortunate in the world, I would like to remind you, as you finish your days at ICU and leave here today, that it is a great blessing to receive an undergraduate or graduate education. I also would like to encourage you to think seriously what you should do to realize a world where the seventeen goals agreed in the Summit last year are fully met. Not only governments but also the private sector, civil society and people like us are strongly urged to participate in achieving these goals. The United Nations has created a website humorously named "the lazy person's guide to saving the world." It lists a few things anyone can do in daily life to make an impact. The URL will be uploaded along with this commencement address shortly. Please do visit the site. In Level 1, Sofa superstar, who literally is lying on a sofa, tells you not to print and to turn off the lights. You will find, in Level 2, things you can do at home with the illustration of Household hero such as air drying, taking short showers, composting, recycling paper, plastic, glass and aluminum, and in Level 3, you will find things you can do outside your house with the illustration of Neighborhood nice guy, such as shopping local, biking, walking or taking public transport. ICU graduates, who are not lazy, are expected to contribute much more for the sustainable development of our planet.


In 2030 when the deadline of the SDGs comes, much will be entrusted to you. Your learning does not end at the graduation. It will start after you leave school when more will be demanded of you. At ICU, you have acquired the ability to plan independently and learn creatively as an intentional learner. The path before you will likely differ. No matter what career you may choose, please do lead your life with your own will. May God bless you all.

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