Professor, Graduate School of Leadership and Innovation, Shizenkan University
President, Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society
Founder and President, e's Inc.
Through witnessing the frequent abnormal weather events and the devastating damage they cause, we are compelled to reaffirm the tremendous role that insurance business operators are playing in the society. The MS&AD Insurance Group envisions “a resilient and sustainable society” in 2030 and has proclaimed its intention to incorporate the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as milestones for its sustainability activities, thus committing to conducting its business in line with the proclaimed vision and milestones. The Group has also set key performance indicators (KPIs) and participated in various domestic and global initiatives, thus demonstrating its steady approach to sustainability. This Report covers wide-ranging topics, and both its layout and text are reader-friendly.
Having carefully inspected the Report, I would like to share my comments for the improvement of future issues.
A sustainability report is essentially a tool used to communicate how a company perceives sustainability (perspective), its policies and initiatives, and its progress and results against set goals, along with future plans based on a review of previous achievements.
In terms of the perspective, policies and initiatives, the MS&AD Insurance Group takes a fundamental approach of placing an emphasis on what the Group should do to address issues related to the earth and society in addition to what it can do as an extension of its business. Using the SDGs as a framework, the Group has been working on themes that are generally viewed as less relevant to its business, such as natural capital and human rights. I highly commend the Group for having engaged in sustainability from this broader perspective.
However, my impression is that reporting on activities conducted in the past year is insufficient when compared with the description of the perspective and policies.
For example, in terms of human rights and work styles, the Report merely describes in-house programs. What we expect from the annual sustainability report is disclosure of concrete information, such as the numbers of employees utilizing such programs and opportunities and percentage figures for the entire group. Readers want to confirm the progress made over time, the Group’s evaluation of the current status and its future plans. I believe that reporting these processes will help drive a plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle and propel sustainability-based management even further.
I am aware that a data section is provided at the end of the Report, but data alone cannot communicate the full implications of results, nor does it show how the Group views the data. I would suggest that data on key activity results and the Group’s analysis of it also be included in the main text.
Next, there are some issues I would like to see the Group to focus on. First one is the measures to mitigate global warming. Although the Group has established a long-term goal that requires it to reduce CO2 emissions by 70% by 2050, it needs to inform society about the specific measures it will adopt to achieve the goal, as well as its progress and challenges towards meeting the goal. I would like the Group to report how it will incorporate the results from joining the Ministry of the Environment’s project for developing Science Based Targets and calculating emissions from supply chains. Since the Group’s emissions are mostly linked to its energy consumption, I would like to know how it will actively promote the development and utilization of renewable energy, in addition to saving energy. Where possible, I expect the Group to take progressive measures, such as joining RE100 at an early stage.
The second issue is about measures to adapt to global warming. As global warming will inevitably advance in the future, I expect the Group to devise various ingenious solutions and projects to help the general public adapt to global warming.
Third, I admire the Group’s efforts in developing countries. However, I expect the Group to engage in initiatives for “leaving no one behind” also in Japan, where the wealth gap is widening, as the SDGs do encompass issues that also exist in developed countries.
The fourth issue I would like to see prioritized is dealing with the shrinking population, which is one of Japan’s most pressing issues. I believe that, in the future, people will inevitably opt to form households with people who are not members of their own family. The viability of this option depends on how well we can address the various risks involved in with living with non-family members. I expect the Group to play a role in addressing this new risk.
By including the next generation, developing countries, and the world’s leading experts into the scope of communication to society, the Group will be able to set goals and implement initiatives from a broader perspective, and thus be an industry leader both in and outside Japan.
Our Response to the Third-Party Opinion on Our Sustainability Report
We sincerely appreciate your valuable opinions on the MS&AD Insurance Group Sustainable Report 2018.
In fiscal 2017, the final year of our medium-term management plan, Next Challenge 2017, our activities were centered around two pillars: (1) Enhancing the Quality of Products and Services and (2) Contributing to Resolution of Social Issues through the Business. Specifically, to deal with pressing social issues for which resolution is strongly desired, such as Prevention of Accidents, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Response to Climate Change, Response to Aging Society, and Development of Local Communities, we promoted initiatives to create shared value with the society through the provision of products and services that leverage the strengths of our business model: identifying risks and providing information on risks; preventing risks from being realized/reducing the impact of risks; and reducing the economic burden when risks become real.
In fiscal 2018, we will work toward a “resilient and sustainable society,” the image of society in 2030 envisioned in the medium-term management plan, Vision 2021, with the SDGs referenced as milestones. We have specified seven priority issues, taking into account the insights derived from communication with our stakeholders and the implications of the issues to our businesses. The priority issues are to: (1) deal with new risks, (2) create a mobility society without accidents, (3) strive for the development of resilient communities, (4) support good health and longevity, (5) contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, (6) strive to improve sustainability of natural capital, and (7) work toward realization of leaving no one behind. Public expectations for the ways of responding to the various risks that have emerged in our rapidly changing world are mounting. Taking advantage of our strength as an insurance and financial services provider, we will implement initiatives that contribute to achieving a harmonious balance between the global environment, economy and society, which the SDGs aim to do.
With regard to the commended perspective, policies and initiatives, the Group will continue to taking the approach of identifying our initiatives with a view to solving ongoing environmental and social problems. To address the insufficiencies that you have pointed out, we will step up our efforts to provide a report in a format most suited to each initiative by clearly presenting a correlation of elements of our initiatives: evaluation of activities; improvement or enhancement for future activities; degree of contribution to society; and numerical data.
As to the four focus themes you have raised in your advice, we will tackle these themes while deepening dialogue with our stakeholders and sharing issues with society.
First, the Group will implement its own measures to mitigate climate change at an accelerated pace. At the same time, we will contribute to decarbonization by partnering with relevant government agencies and UN organizations, and through participating in various projects. We will achieve tangible results and enhance our reporting practice.
Second, to facilitate adaptation to climate change, we will help build up more resilience in society by offering risk management services based on natural disaster analysis models and by providing products and services to prepare for weather risks.
Third, as to initiatives for leaving no one behind in Japan, the MS&AD Insurance Group continues to propose solutions that make use of the unique characteristics of communities by providing risk consulting services and engaging in initiatives compatible with the environment and society, in cooperation with the national and local governments.
Fourth, in response to the rise of sharing businesses, the need for which is expected to grow as the population continues to decrease, we will offer products and services to address compensation liability risks involved in running a sharing business to promote our endeavor to ensure security and safety in society.
Our medium-term management plan, Vision 2021, which encompasses a span of four years starting from 2018, will be an important step toward the goals in 2030. To contribute to the development of a vibrant society and help secure a sound future for the planet, as we commit to in our Mission, we must resolve issues prevalent in society and on the earth. The MS&AD Insurance Group, keeping in mind the advice provided, will contribute to the realization of a resilient and sustainable society. To this end, the Group will increase opportunities for dialogue with a wider scope of stakeholders, while persistently striving to create shared value for society and the Group through the practice of our business model, the Story of Value Creation, and by stepping up our information-sharing and awareness-raising efforts.
Yusuke Shirai, General Manager, Corporate Planning Department
MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Inc.