The 12th SDGs café had the theme of “Thinking about Establishing ESG Investment in Kanazawa in the Age of Corona.” ESG* Investment has the potential to create solutions for a variety of societal problems involving nature, the environment, and working people’s lives while also supporting sustainable economic growth. We thought about what our region could do during this moment in history when momentum for societal reform is growing in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
*What is ESG? ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance.
Our guest this time was Masakazu Shijimaya, 6th generation owner and managing director of Shijimaya Honpo, a long-established shop selling traditional fermented foods in Kanazawa. He undertakes a variety of initiatives such as running workshops that inform younger generations of the benefits of koji malt and fermented goods and collaborating with groups promoting healthy business management to extoll the benefits of fermented goods. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, he is currently running the workshops online. Unexpectedly, it has become an opportunity to share his products with people who previously would have had little interest in his company’s flagship products like kabura sushi.
Shijimaya imagined how the ideal Kanazawa of 2030 might look and made the following 3 suggestions:
- Promoting connections and cooperation both within and without the region will revitalize the city
- We will be able to convey the charm of Kanazawa’s culture as it lives on in the daily lives of its citizens
- People taking part in a variety of projects will be able to develop themselves sustainably
Next, Kenji Fuma, CEO of Neural, Inc., shared some of his ideas with us. According to him, ESG investment is intimately related to the SDGs, and the view that ESG initiatives are vital for sustainable business growth is spreading quickly. He stated that among the ESG points institutional investors check in publicly listed companies, while Environment is relatively simple (CO2 emissions, water problems, and waste matter), Social and Governance cover a much broader range of themes. “A wide variety of categories are all evaluated based on fixed quantities, so publicization of company information will be important for both ESG investment and the SDGs in the future,” he continued. He went on to say, “Institutional investors and banks buy many municipal bonds, thus supporting Kanazawa’s public finance. In other words, how much Kanazawa can improve with regards to ESG in the future will become an important point when issuing municipal bonds.”
Finally, he said “When Kanazawa makes an action plan for the SDGs, I would suggest setting target values. It is vital to first evaluate and gain a numerical understanding of the current situation when setting future goals.” He then continued to say, “Ideally I would like to realize a situation where the primary actors are the business leaders who are able to cooperate with governments, financial institutions, and NPOs.”