I was interviewed by a Japanese TV news on su-re.co and why I launched the company. I translate the news in English.
Takeshi Takama (48) works on the three axes of "research," "business," and "education" to solve problems of renewable energy and climate change. Dr. Takama, a researcher, asked about the aim of working on business and education and the "four switches" that pushed him.
Implemented three initiatives, Think, Do, and Be
Sustainability & Resilience (commonly known as su-re.co), of which Dr. Takama is the CEO, is an "international scientist group" based in Bali, Indonesia. The activities are divided into three categories, "Think-tank", "Do-tank", and "Be-tank", all of which are aimed at creating a sustainable society with the motto of "becoming a gift maker of the earth".
"I think you may hear think-tanks in Japan as well. They are research institutes. My research area is energy and climate change, and the core of my business is the research projects of the European Union. We also provide consulting services for government-affiliated projects such as the United Nations and JICA (= International Cooperation Organization).
Do-tank is a research-based business. We sell coffee and chocolate and use part of our earnings to run farmer schools to learn about climate change and promote biogas energy. At the last Be-tank, we engage in activities that change people and ourselves, such as educational activities and policy supports. "
Dr. Takama is a researcher with a PhD in environmental studies from Oxford University. Therefore, the core is still the research activities.
By conducting business on three axes, he said that the sources of revenue are diversified, and each activity influences the other. For example, utilising research and business experience provides young people with learning that textbooks alone cannot provide.
In March 2021, su-re.co held an online course at the University of Tokyo. They offered Clark Memorial High School, weekly sustainability classes. They also involved in education in collaboration with Indonesia's "Green School, " which attracts attention to sustainability.
"We can use our research findings in the class, and we can also use the knowledge gained in class and business in research. Because of our interesting background, we sometimes get people to pay attention to our products."
Four switches gving birth to su-re.co
Before Dr. Takama comes up with the ideas of su-re.co, he had four "switched on" experiences. The first switch was when he was 10 years old. He said that this was an event that changed Dr. Takama's values.
"When I was 10 years old, I had a traffic accident, and I couldn't attend the class for the first semester. The fortuneteller told me that I was a late bloomer. From there, I continued to put efforts and think about the long term."
The second switch happened on a round-trip to Australia after high school, when he was cycling across 18,000 kilometres of desert and came across a 360-degree view of flowers in bloom. he says:
"It was unthinkable"
"There was no sound at all."
It was this powerful experience that turned his attention to nature conservation. To learn more about nature, Dr. Takama went to Oxford University.
The third switch came when he was working for a think tank after graduation. While working on a project for the Swedish government, Dr. Takama researched climate change and the way people live in the village of Ga-selala, South Africa. The project report was cited as a reference when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was awarded the Nobel Prize.
"But I couldn't offer solutions to the people in that village because their situation, including climate change, was so dire. The government was just handing out subsidies and not offering any real solutions. Then a farmer in the village told me, 'Don't just study, do something'. Research is important, but it should not be the only thing. This realisation led to su-re.co's launch, which combines research, business, and education in parallel."
The final switch came in the second year of his involvement in a huge JICA climate change project in Indonesia. When his father had a brain tumour and died after a few weeks of illness, it made him rethink his life.
"As a researcher, I value thinking above all else," he says. The social issues we are working on will take time to solve. We tell our interns and staff, 'Don't expect to solve it in three months. Life can be long, but there is no certainty that tomorrow will come. After my father's death, I decided to set up su-re.co without renewing my contract as a JICA expert because I wanted to work in the way I wanted to."
Thinking makes you do the right thing.
In the future, Dr. Takama would like to focus on education. He says:
"While the SDGs have become widely known, there are some education programs that are not essential, such as seminars that only teach memorisation of the 17 goals. I'm now at Clarke Memorial High School to tell them how the UN set the 17 goals, how the international project operates, and how they can put them into practice personally. To reach the future we want to achieve, we need to think and work backwards, and the SDGs are no different."
We have to take a long view, think about what we can do now and do it. Dr. Takama laughs at this way of thinking, saying:
"After all, I was told when I was 10 years old that I would make it to the next big thing."
"In my case, when I make a choice, I tend to choose something that will be profitable in the long term, even if it will be painful in the short term.
Sometimes I feel that young people today are so focused on action that they want to see results as soon as possible. But the reality is that many activities started with good intentions but ended up with bad results. This is the result of running too far without having done enough research."
"As a person whose identity is as a researcher, I still want to value Think. If we can study and learn from the greats of the past, we can propose even better solutions. By thinking before we act, we can do the right thing. It may seem like a roundabout way to go, but I think it's sometimes quicker to reach the end goal."