How can companies and organisations contribute to delivering the essential transformations required to achieve the SDGs? The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the Global Compact Network Japan (GCNJ) launched their annual report, “SDGs Progress Report 2022 Survey Results on the Efforts of GCNJ Companies and Organisations”, to shed light on this question.
This report focuses on SDGs 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 13 (climate action) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), evaluating the progress being made by Japanese businesses and what the future holds on achieving these goals. In addition to the five focal goals, the report also considers the importance of other SDGs and the overarching, cross-cutting issues that serve as both challenges and opportunities for SDG implementation.
Based on the results of a survey conducted in October-November 2021, this report provides an analysis of the level of awareness and penetration of the SDGs among GCNJ member companies and organisations, as well as progress on five of the global goals: SDG 5, (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Human Rights), SDG 13 (Climate Change), and SDG16...
[Highlights of the SDGs Progress Report 2022]
- Awareness and penetration of the SDGs: Middle management and employees' low awareness of the SDGs has long been an issue in Japan. In the newest survey, this has improved by nearly 40%, reaching approximately 80%. The SDGs are finally being recognised and understood internally within companies and organisations.
- Gender Equality: "Gender Equality" in the SDGs requires the elimination of gender discrimination as it is structured in society and the economy, and the reform of systems and awareness based on gender roles. The survey found systems and information disclosure are being established in compliance with domestic laws and regulations, such as the “Act on the Promotion of Female Participation and Career Advancement”. To bring fundamental changes to Japan, shifting gears from “female participation and career advancement” to the “promotion of gender equality” will ensure globally accepted and highly effective activities. Moreover, this is also effective as a foundation for female participation and advancement as well as diversity and inclusion (D&I).
- Decent Work and Human Rights: Ninety percent of the member companies and organisations have made efforts to address the policies, commitments and remedies indicated in the "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)". However, only about 75% of members are engaged in due diligence for human rights. Overall, there is weak recognition that the issue of human rights is not only for workers but also for consumers and local communities, so there is an urgent need to address the implementation and review of specific items indicated in the Guiding Principles.
- Circular Economy: Many companies collect used containers and products through collaboration between manufacturers and retailers, and then recycle them in partnership with recyclers, switching containers and packaging to recycled materials and resources. Companies may drive changes by establishing further recycling systems and new business models that go beyond the 3Rs, including changes in consumption patterns, such as sharing and product servicing.
- Climate Change: About 70% of member companies and organisations have set net-zero targets for 2050, and about 80% have identified Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions. More than half have identified and integrated climate change risks and opportunities into their strategies and plans, and are responding to the trend for more climate change-related disclosure. Further support is required to reduce decarbonisation costs and address technical challenges.
- Preventing Corruption: Anti-corruption efforts have gone beyond documented measures, and have reached organisational measures such as employing internal reporting system or disciplinary procedures for violators. On the other hand, areas which are still lagging behind include conducting interviews with employees in both domestic and overseas groups, due diligence, and educational training for suppliers and third parties. Companies should reinforce risk assessment and management systems by third parties.
- Status of Actions on Materiality other than the five SDG goals: Other than the five focal SDGs, the goals positioned under materiality that had the most common examples of efforts with specific numerical targets included SDGs 3, 7, 9 and 11. For companies to continuously work on achieving particular SDGs, and for their efforts to be understood and shared by internal and external stakeholders, companies must create and communicate a narrative that combines business sustainability and social challenges.
From a cross-sectional study, the following points are observed:
- More than 80% of the member companies and organisations stated that they had integrated the SDGs into their management strategies. However, this is insufficient to achieve the SDGs. In particular, for SDGs 5 (gender Equality), 8 (decent work and human rights) and 16 (preventing corruption), challenges were found in basic progress. Businesses aiming to expand globally should review and improve their efforts.
- As seen in “female participation and career advancement” and the 3Rs, initiatives by companies and organisations are strongly influenced by policies, laws and regulations. It is necessary to go beyond these, understand what needs to be done, and work on the SDGs.
- Something common to all five SDGs was the need to listen to stakeholders in the value chain/supply chain, gather data, strengthen strategies and approaches, and develop a structure to realise the goals.
- There is a significant difference in activities between large companies with global operations and small- and medium-sized companies and organisations. Companies and organisations should utilise their strengths depending on the environment and use government and NGO support accordingly. Companies must also cooperate and collaborate.
It is essential to shift gears in all sectors to move closer to achieving the SDGs, in light of the negative impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic. The time is approaching when it is no longer enough to simply say, “we are contributing to the SDGs according to our standards”. Companies and organisations must align their organisational sustainability with social sustainability and in that way, make a genuine contribution to achieving the SDGs.
Overview of the survey
- Survey objectives
To analyse progress as well as challenges faced on current SDGs initiatives and penetration of the SDGs by member companies and organisations to enable them to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in Japan.
To help GCNJ member companies and organisations measure their progress and promote activities on the SDGs.
- Schedule of the responses
4 October to 18 November 2021
- Survey target and number of responses
Target: GCNJ member companies and organisations …
437 members (as of 30 September 2021)
Responses: 223 members (51% of target) *See p. 68 for a list of responding members.
- Survey method
About this press release
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Strategic Management Office
Public Relations: Yuri Katsuike, Kanae Sho
Email: [email protected]
Global Compact Network Japan (GCNJ)
Naoko Ohkubo, Haruko Uchida
Email: [email protected]