Global Compact Network Japan (GCNJ) and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) launched a new report, “SDGs and Business in the ESG era: Actions by Companies and Organisations in Japan”, summarising the results of a survey on progress that leading Japanese businesses are making towards realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This report also examines how both financial institutions and companies address ESG finance, and its main findings are as follows:
- The 2019 survey results showed that the level of awareness about the SDGs among top management rose from 59% in the previous year to 77%, equal to the awareness level among CSR staff. In addition, more companies now consider the SDGs to be a genuine issue for management.
- Companies with high ESG ratings had not only set long-term goals, but also committed to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), set objectives based on Science Based Targets (SBTs) at an early stage, and were making efforts to indicate pathways consistent with scientific knowledge. These companies are creating a cycle for skillful utilisation of information disclosure and engagement, leading to improved sustainability management in their companies, and they strive to strengthen ties between business units and employees or between suppliers and consumers within these processes.
- When companies' objectives are ambitious and the roadmaps to achieving them are set out in a way that is consistent with scientific knowledge, it facilitates ESG investment and financing, and an increase in sustainable financial products.
- While ESG financing and sustainable financial products are on the rise, caution should be exercised to avoid having the expansion of market or financial products become an objective in itself. A distinction must be made between considering SDGs in a decision-making process for investment and financing, and the level of contribution to the SDGs. Relevant to this concern, there are high expectations that impact assessment will be actively considered in investment and financing decision-making, and contribute to realising the Paris Agreement goals and the SDGs.
- Going forward, the relationship between ESG and the SDGs must be further strengthened and linked to ambitious initiatives with a sense of urgency, one that will produce high returns in a variety of ways.
The appendices of the report contain a number of interviews with CEOs and executives as they discuss the SDGs.
*This is the English translation of the Japanese report published in March 2020.