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Consumer Goods Forum Launches Local Group to Tackle Sustainability Challenges in Japan

Image Credit: Andre Benz

As part of its ongoing regionalization strategy, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has created a Japan Sustainability Local Group. Chaired by Koji Inoue of Ajinomoto Co., Inc., the Local Group will help local and multinational CGF members in Japan share knowledge and best practices on sustainability challenges facing the consumer goods industry and strategies for working towards the CFG’s global Environmental and Social Sustainability Resolutions.

The Japan Sustainability Local Group will develop action plans for solving regional sustainability challenges and aims to inspire collective action across CGF’s Japanese membership. Beyond business-to-business cooperation, the Group will engage with relevant external stakeholders, such as governments and NGOs, to develop strategies that secure long-term business growth while reducing social and environmental impacts.

CFG members under the challenges raised by issues such as climate change and protecting workers’ rights, but the specifics of these issues can differ from region to region. Through discussion with regional stakeholders — including NGOs and investor groups — it’s clear more needs to be done on issues such as supply chain management and improving environmental and social sustainability.

For Japanese companies looking to expand overseas, for example, global issues are considered “non-tariff barriers to trade,” so working on such issues is inevitable for long-term business development strategies. And for companies whose operations are largely targeted at domestic consumers, most ingredients are likely to be imported from other countries, so responsible and sustainable procurement of palm oil and soy, for example, also needs to be a key focus. Japanese members of the CGF have increasingly become a part of a global supply chain network and better placed to influence international trade. The CGF believes Japan has a key role to play in helping meet global targets such as the CGF’s Environmental and Social Resolutions, as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Founding members of the Japan Sustainability local group are: Ajinomoto Co., Inc.; Aeon Co., Ltd.; Kao Corporation; Kirin Holdings Company; Lawson, Inc.; DNV GL Business Assurance Japan K.K.; Fuji Oil Holdings Inc.; Itoen, Ltd.; Japan Consumers’ Co-Operative Union (JCCU); Kato Sangyo Co., Ltd.; LOTTE Co., Ltd.; Megmilk Snow Brand Co., Ltd.; Meiki Co., Ltd.; Mitsubishi Corporation; Suntory Beverage & Food Limited; and Shiseido Co., Ltd.

Three of the participating organizations — Kirin, Ajinomoto and Suntory — have already distinguished themselves as leaders in the sustainability and social responsibility space. Kirin was the first corporation in Japan to embrace Creating Shared Value (CSV) management as a way to create new value for customers and society, while food and chemical corporation Ajinomoto has actively been working to improve nutrition in developing countries through programs and partnerships with NGOs and is a member of the Japan Platform for Global Nutrition. Spirits and beverage company Suntory has been putting its corporate mission “to create harmony with people and nature” into action for the last decade by engaging employees in forest conservation activities, establishing an in-house educational institution and water education programs and creating a National Water Sanctuary.

This is not the first Local Group to be created by The Consumer Goods Forum in Japan. In 2012, its Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) set up its Japan Local Group to address food safety challenges in the country. The GFSI Japan Local Group has proven immensely successful and the CGF hopes the Japan Sustainability Local Group will have similar success. 

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