Environment is a topic that touches all aspects of business, politics, and society. Companies across the world are now seeing environmental sustainability as a major business opportunity as well as an imperative. The ENVIRONMENT session was envisioned by OYWJ partner and GLA coach Gavin Dixon from Global Perspectives to explore the shift in both product and service development and how it can be accelerated to meet both the SDGs timeline and maintain competitive advantage using the power and influence of today’s young leaders.
The session began with a video message from Coca-Cola Japan CEO, Jorge Garduño, in which he expressed excitement about partnering with the young generation in Japan. He touched upon the three fronts on which Coca-Cola Japan is specifically working to achieving the SDGs; inclusion, resources, and communities. He concluded that the OYW Tokyo Caucus was an excellent opportunity for the community to come together, join hands, and share ideas on how to accelerate solutions.
The ENVIRONMENT Session
"Sustainability Leadership – Embracing Young Leaders & The SDGs"
in partnership with
Senior Vice President
Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability
Miyoko Tanaka picked up the baton from Jorge to dive a little deeper into how Coca-Cola Japan was working on some of the projects Jorge mentioned. Of particular interest to the audience was Coca-Cola’s PET-to-PET plastic recycling program. Japan collects roughly 98% of all PET bottles with 85% of those bottles eventually being recycled. It was another great example of how systems can work well when everyone does their part. Miyoko mentioned that the quality of the recycled PET bottle in Japan was superior to many other countries around the world making it easier to recylcle as the Japanese tend to rinse and separate their trash responsibly. Coca-Cola is currently using its IROHAS bottled water as the first product to achieve a 100% recycled bottle.
The panel session began shortly thereafter with three additional panelists joining Gavin and Miyoko on stage; Tokuro Hatori from TBM, Hiroko Urashima from MS&AD, and Shintaro Nakagawa from Unilever Japan joining remotely via live stream.
After some brief introductions, Gavin went quickly to Hiroko to see how MS&AD and the insurance industry was addressing SDGs. Hiroko pointed out that climate change was wreaking havoc on the industry as a whole, not just on MS&AD. SDG-related strategy sessions are commonplace now as she and her colleagues look for new solutions and products to address the changing marketplace. One example presented was that MS&AD is creating a “find and mitigate risk” strategy with clients using the SDGs as goal posts so that companies don’t react to their surroundings but proact to ensure damages are minimized when things go arwy.
Shintaro was up next with some insight into how Unilever is addressing sustainability in general. He mentioned that plastic was one issue the company is dealing with but certainly not the only one. Water and energy use is another priority for them, pursuing a zero emission target for 2039. Additionally, new products must meet sustainability criteria set by the integration of SDGs into the Unilever business model. Even blockbuster-type products must meet this criteria or they cannot be launched.
Finally, Tokuro was asked how a startup company like TBM is addressing sustainability, given its smaller scale. Tokuro highlighted that TBM is a materials company that focuses on helping its clients reduce their carbon footprint with alternative material options. So, sustainability is built into the business model from the inception of the material design. But, as with many companies around the world focusing on SDGs, cost is still a big factor for TBM and its clients.
- It is an imperative to engage/educate/listen to external and internal stakeholders to expand the scope and scale of change while leveraging the power of small and large companies to achieve environmental as well as financial sustainability.
- The biggest challenge is transforming the mindset at all levels of an organization to look at environmental sustainability as an opportunity at all levels (personal, corporate, and social) rather than an obligation or burden that has to be suffered.
- Internally it is essential to create a culture that inspires, motivates, and supports young leaders to focus on and lead environmental sustainability initiatives within an organization. Success in this area is vital for the long-term financial success of the organization and the overall viability of the society they operate in.
All the companies participating in this session are actively looking for young leaders to take on these roles now and in the future.