In co-creation projects, people with different backgrounds, occupations, values, and ways of thinking exchange opinions and work together toward a common goal and sustainable future. There is no fixed format for such co-creation initiatives. They are co-designed by everyone who participates in them, and it is only through listening and being open to the ideas of others involved in a problem that we can discover how we can move from the current situation towards the future we want. Stories and case studies of co-creation can offer valuable tips and ideas to inspire new stories of co-creation. With this in mind, we decided to talk to researchers and residents who have participated in co-creation initiatives and to write down their experiences with co-creation. Here are some of them.

STORY 1Biodiversity and human well-being

In the 1970s, red tides became a serious environmental and societal problem in the Lake Biwa area of Japan. To prevent such red tides from reoccurring, it is important to manage phosphorus and nitrogen contained in the domestic and agricultural wastewater throughout the basin. However, people residing in the area are faced with various other challenges to their lives and livelihoods, including a declining birthrate and decreasing agriculture prices, which also need to be considered. After continuous dialogue with farmers, the researchers decided to focus their project on the relationship between people’s lives and the ‘richness of nature’ in the area. By practicing environmentally friendly agriculture, living organisms that were pushed away by modern agriculture have returned to the paddy fields.

STORY 2Hot spring monitoring with residents

In Beppu City, which is known as one of Japan’s leading hot spring tourist destinations, hot springs are used as a resource for a variety of purposes in accommodation facilities, public baths, and hospitals. To promote sustainable use of these hot springs, which are indispensable for daily life and industry in the area, researchers, the government, and NGOs jointly planned and conducted a hot spring survey in collaboration with local residents

STORY 3Towards fair water management

In the region of South Sulawesi (Indonesia), researchers worked together with farmers and irrigation officers to investigate water use management in an area with unequal access to irrigation water. After continuous discussion with local residents, a new water distribution manual was developed, new irrigation channels were built, and a system was implemented in which local people took the lead in fair water distribution.

STORY 4Philosophy Café

In today’s local communities, there is no place where people can freely discuss various topics. Talking to each other makes sharing awareness of problems possible and much more collaborating to solve the problems. In Higashimiyoshi Town, Tokushima Prefecture, there is a “philosophy café” that meets every three months on Sunday mornings to discuss various topics. Nowadays, there is a need to design such a place for discussion in urban planning (machizukuri).