“Posters with a few extra words”: Promoting the SDGs in Japan

April 19, 2018
Editor @17Goals

We enjoyed this creative approach to promoting the SDGs: grab people’s attention with an unexpected juxtaposition between image and text. Reprinted, with permission, from the Japan for Sustainability newsletter. JFS is a 17Goals partner and an excellent source of information about what’s happening in Japan. Note: the illustration is a reconstruction and not a genuine Japanese poster. But you probably guessed that.

— The 17Goals Team

The Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC), a non-profit organization, released on October 4, 2017, “posters with a few extra words” to raise awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this article, we explain the group’s efforts to galvanize action for the 17 SDGs using posters with catchy phrases often seen in everyday life.

JANIC created the posters with the hope of raising awareness and spurring action on the SDGs – the “17 goals to transform our world” being pursued through a unified effort by UN member states – among as many people as possible.

The “few extra words” on the posters casually help people to recognize the thoughts and feelings behind the SDGs and to realize that they, too, can contribute to their achievement. To familiarize people with sustainability issues, the posters are available to download and hang up in suitable places, such as workplaces, retail stores, and schools.

For example, the poster for Goal 1, “No poverty,” shows the words “Open for Business” (synonymous with “working” in Japanese) in large font, preceded by a short message in smaller font, “We wish all those who want to work to be…” A comment at the bottom describes the current situation: “One in every five people in developing countries lives on less than 1.25 dollars a day.”

The poster for Goal 15, “Life on land,” states “No unsolicited mail” (a phrase commonly added to mailboxes in Japan) after “To protect our forests…” and includes the comment, “Every year, 1.3 million hectares of the world’s forests and 1.2 million hectares of farmland disappear due to drought and desertification.”

The few extra words thus turn the 17 Goals into unique, head-turning catch phrases.

JANIC was founded in 1987 with Japanese NGOs as permanent members. It is one of Japan’s leading network NGOs. Its main activities are divided into the following three areas.

Public policy advocacy and awareness raising

Achieving the SDGs will require the world’s citizens to collaborate across borders and create a policy environment that supports the activities of NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) that are tackling sustainability issues. JANIC advocates and builds awareness for such policies based on its accumulated knowledge and thorough research.

Promoting collaboration

Also critical to the SDGs is cooperation and collaboration across all sectors, with each sector leveraging its unique strengths. JANIC thus promotes equal partnerships with other sectors while retaining the autonomy of NGOs and CSOs. These efforts are focused on businesses, labor unions, and local governments as key sectors.

NGO capacity development

JANIC develops content and tools and provides study and networking opportunities to strengthen the effectiveness of NGOs.

A single poster can change one’s perspective and inspire action that will help accomplish the SDGs. Though not yet widespread, such action seems to be emerging among ordinary citizens. We hope this poster initiative will make the SDGs a part of everyone’s everyday life.