In light of the forthcoming medium- and long-term changes in society (megatrends), more and more global companies are moving towards taking a corporate sustainability approach to business. The megatrends are also changing the behaviour of influential organisations such as NGOs that have influence over many of these companies’ direct stakeholders. As a result, it is important for them to recognise that these influencers are starting to have a large impact in many areas of business. In Japan specifically, in order to achieve the "Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)", the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) advocates for the initiative “Society 5.0” and has announced that it will actively contribute to solving medium- to long-term social issues through business. In addition, the rapid growth of ESG investment in Japan since the signing of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) by the Pension Fund Management Incorporated Administrative Agency (GPIF) has also greatly supported Japanese companies' perception of long-term social issues.
Since 2016, PwC has been publishing reports on the importance of the shift from “CSR” to “corporate sustainability”. For the current report, (the third issue since we started publishing them), we conducted an online survey for people who work for listed companies. In addition to understanding the level of recognition among Japanese companies, we are also looking at new trends and changes in industries over the last few years through comparisons with past surveys.
In this article, we will first introduce the five megatrends that PwC has considered and their potential impact on business. We will also provide an overview of corporate sustainability, what it means to maintain both a sustainable society and sustainable global environment, and how the role that companies must play in achieving this is changing. Based on the survey results, we will consider the differences in the level of corporate sustainability awareness among Japanese companies and the differences between various industries. Finally, we propose three initiatives as concrete actions for Japanese companies in their efforts to shift to corporate sustainability.
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