Policy Report
Region/Country: Language:
English

SDGs and Business for the Future: Actions by Private Companies in Japan

Author: 
Akiko
UENO
Tomoko
DOWAKI
Saori
IZUMI
Contributor: 
2018-06

Global Compact Network Japan (GCNJ) and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) launched of a report* summarising the results of a survey on the progress front-running Japanese businesses are making towards realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The publication, "SDGs and Business for the Future: Actions by Private Companies in Japan” follows up last year’s IGES-GCNJ survey report “SDGs and Business in Practice - Early Actions by Japanese Private Companies” which gave an overall picture of initiatives on SDGs by Japanese companies. This year’s report looks at ways to integrate SDGs into core business focusing on two approaches - Organisations and Corporate Activities. This latest report also includes 25 case studies highlighting ongoing SDG measures and initiatives undertaken by concerned businesses, as reference material for SDG implementation.

*This is the English translated version of the Japanese Report published in March 2018.
http://www.ungcjn.org/sdgs/pdf/elements_file_4001.pdf
https://pub.iges.or.jp/pub/SDGs_Business_for_the_Future
The report was written based on the results of a questionnaire survey for GCNJ members (total 254 companies and organizations ) and face-to-face interviews with 30 companies/organizations.

●Key findings of the report include;
- Japanese businesses have made improvements both in terms of understanding among top management and awareness in society about the SDGs, which were specified as challenges facing SDGs-related initiatives by companies last year. However, the level of understanding remains extremely low at the middle management level (9%), highlighting an enduring challenge for effective promotion of the SDGs.
- The level of progress on the five steps of the SDG Compass** is good overall and GCNJ member companies that do nothing are exceedingly few. However, over 70% of companies indicated that they were still only on Step 1 “understanding the SDGs”, or Step 2 “defining priorities”. This shows that many companies are still at the stage of searching for ways to integrate the SDGs into core business.
- While companies are increasingly expected to engage in the SDGs as business opportunities, more effort has been put into goals perceived to be linked to negative impacts for companies (i.e. management risks).

●Main messages
- It is essential that companies consider SDGs as business seeds, and work to grow them in ways that strengthen and expand existing business, and also then lead to developments in new business. For this purpose, creating mechanisms to facilitate solutions to social problems within a company, including awards, reward systems and assessment schemes, targeting either the organisation or individuals, are effective ways. This is also effective to raise awareness among middle management.
- To contribute to the creation of a sustainable society, together with core business, companies need to promote initiatives to improve market environments and social business with small profit/philanthropic activities associated with core business.
- In order for these types of activities to be considered as investments, not costs, companies must steadfastly incorporate elements of the SDGs into medium and long-term plans and strategies. Medium and long-term objectives and commitments should ideally be ambitious, and need not be strictly limited to those readily achievable.
- A corporate philosophy is a company’s reason for existence. Linking corporate initiatives based on such philosophy to the SDGs ensure the roles of private companies in society become clearer and this helps employees become motivated and strongly committed to their work.
- Key elements for integrating SDGs into core business are leadership by top management, engagement in dialogue with relevant parties internally and externally to build partnerships and return to a corporate philosophy.

**SDG Compass is a corporate action index related to SDGs which was created by the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative),UNGC and WBCSD and used as a reference by many corporations in implementing SDGs. The Japanese version was issued by GCNJ・IGES in March 2016 http://www.ungcjn.org/sdgs/pdf/SDG_COMPASS_Jpn.pdf

<Related Information>
[GCNJ/IGES Interview Series: SDGs and Business for the Future]
Included in the report are a series of interviews providing details on various initiatives led by Japanese corporations and organisations for realisation of the SDGs and the promotion of a more sustainable society. The interviews reflect honest opinions of various stakeholders regarding the range of initiatives, efforts and challenges to integrate sustainability into core business activities.
http://www.ungcjn.org/sdgs/archive/index.html (Japanese only)

Related Website: Page Information:
40 pages