Case Study

The International Conference on Climate Change and Coral Reef Conservation (ICCCCRC)

(c)Okinawa Prefectural Government

(c)Okinawa Prefectural Government

(c)Okinawa Prefectural Government

Minister of the Environment Nobuteru Ishihara

On June 29th and 30th, 2013, the International Conference on Climate Change and Coral Reef Conservation (ICCCCRC) was hosted at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST*), drawing 700 attendees on each of the event's two days.

When Japan's Ministry of the Environment was planning the ICCCCRC, it looked for candidate sites on Japanese islands most affected by global warming. Okinawa offered an island location with coral reefs, as well as the presence of OIST, where the world's first genomic analysis of coral was conducted. In addition, the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa is well-known for its research programmes addressing the subtropics. Fitting the site criteria of "a subtropical marine climate" and "having academic institutions where leading research in relevant fields is conducted" made Okinawa a logical choice to host the ICCCCRC.

In Okinawa, a public-private partnership is working to preserve and protect coral reefs. Serious efforts to maintain healthy coral reefs that can survive global warming are under way. The partnership is making an effort to offer participation in a coral reef monitoring and planting programme to tourists, as well as to any individuals or companies, whether local or foreign, that wish to take part. The programme could address the emerging demand in the MICE market for community service opportunities.

In his speech, Minister of the Environment Nobuteru Ishihara noted that Okinawa was selected partly because OIST and the University of the Ryukyus are known for their environmental studies programmes, and also because even within Japan as an island nation, Okinawa represents the essence of an "island society."

Dr. Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Environment and Energy of the Republic of the Maldives, participated in an excursion to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium**, which boasts one of the world's largest aquarium tanks. "Not only is this aquarium delightful to visit," commented the Minister, "but I am also impressed by its extensive research activities."

OIST is a leading-edge research institution that draws researchers from around the world, making it a suitable host site for international scientific conferences. The Japanese government is also positioning the prefecture to host international convention business from Asia, as Okinawa is the closest part of Japan to the booming metropolises of Japan's Asian neighbours. It is projected that 72 international conferences will be held in Okinawa over the five-year period beginning in 2013 (of which 60 are still under consideration, and three already completed).

In 2013, 12 international workshops will be held, including workshops hosted by OIST, with a further eight under consideration.

So if you are looking for a destination in Asia to host your international scientific or environmental meeting, please take a close look at Okinawa!

*The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology(OIST) is an interdisciplinary graduate school with a mission to "conduct internationally outstanding education and research in science and technology, and thus contribute to the sustainable development of Okinawa, and promote and sustain the advancement of science and technology in Japan and throughout the world." OIST is home to researchers doing multi-disciplinary research in neuroscience, molecular sciences, environmental and ecological sciences, physical sciences, and mathematical computational sciences. Over half of the faculty and students come from outside Japan, and English is the working language for all education and research. OIST is also delighted to host meetings at affordable prices.

For more information, please visit the English website: http://www.oist.jp/oist-nutshell

**Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is located at Ocean Expo Park, also home to many other popular attractions. The Aquarium presents the fascinating marine life of Okinawa displayed in spectacular displays. For example, the Coral Sea display features 800 different coral colonies representing 70 different species of coral in a roofless 300m³ tank that allows natural sunlight to flood in. The biggest sight to see is the gigantic Kuroshio Sea Tank, one of the world's largest, which houses two whale sharks (the largest fish in the world), and the first manta rays successfully bred in captivity anywhere. There is also a deep sea feature showcasing the bizarre life forms found in Okinawa's ocean depths. The Aquarium is a great place to hold a private reception.

For more information, please visit the English website: http://oki-churaumi.jp/en/

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