The Institute of Cultural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization concerned with the human factor in world development. At the heart of ICA's work is the belief that long-term, sustainable development happens only when people grasp the significance of their own lives in the larger scheme of things -- when they actively participate in the changes taking place around them instead of merely being targets of that change. Based on its unique Technology of Participation (ToP) methods, the ICA seeks to integrate the methods of human consciousness and organizational transformation to maximize the participation of grassroots people in taking responsibility for their own lives and for their community as a whole. Through town meetings and leadership training programs the ICA helps communities to achieve consensual decision making, team building and long-range planning, making it possible for local residents to implement projects that they have created themselves, rather than the ICA itself becoming the driving force.
Working in partnership with local ICA staff in developing countries, ICA Japan's international effort is focused on the implementation of comprehensive human development projects that emphasize basic human needs and protecting the natural environment. ICA Japan's recent international partnership projects have included the building of basic infrastructure such as schools, health care centers, and water and sanitation systems, the fostering of economic self-sufficiency through small-scale business development and job training for women and youth, appropriate technology transfer through the dispatch of technical advisors and international study tours, and natural resource conservation through reforestation and sustainable agriculture education. In Japan, our main activities focus on development education and the promotion of environmental awareness through slide shows, international conferences, photo exhibitions, videos and publications, and our homepage.
Nationally chartered and registered ICAs in 30 nations around the world are linked through ICA International (ICA:I), based in Toronto. ICA:I is involved coordinating our peer to peer network, supplying information to ICA's and individual members, assisting international conferences, and holding our virtual General Assemblies. ICA Japan began in Kobe in 1970 and was formalized as a membership organization in 1982.