Social Issues addressed by Sumitomo —Compass for the Future—
Launch of a community of partners tackling major social issues
Humans are social animals and communities are the essential building blocks of healthy societies. For SMBC Group, with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) at its core, “A society in which everyone can live with peace of mind” is a cherished aspiration. For it to be an everyday reality, everyone needs to have a stake in society, to experience a sense of belonging, and to be plugged into a network of mutually supportive relationships grounded in trust. Such life-enhancing connections flourish in healthy communities. Viewing communities as dense networks of relations, situated between the world at large and the inner life of the individual, that anchor us in society, SMBC is determined to do whatever it can to contribute to community cohesion and thus prevent the social problems symptomatic of communities in decline.
SMBC revised its mission in fiscal 2020 and, expressing its commitment as a stakeholder in society, added the statement, “We contribute to a sustainable society by addressing environmental and social issues.” To facilitate the emergence of a sustainable society through its business, SMBC also updated its value creation model. As befits a commercial enterprise, SMBC has been endeavoring to increase revenue, profit, and lending. A review of the impact of SMBC’s business activities confirmed that the improved financial performance is yielding benefits for society, not least by contributing to the resolution of the issues confronting society. Non-financial aspects are also clarified in the new value creation model.
With a view to achieving sustainability, SMBC has set “Environment,” “Community,” and “Next Generation” as priority issues. To cite a noteworthy “Community” initiative, the Bank is involved in SMBC Group’s GREEN×GLOBE Partners (GGP), a community for addressing environmental and social issues.
Established to serve as a platform facilitating across-the-board action with partners, GGP focuses on issues that cannot be addressed effectively by individuals or a company acting alone. The website, a hub for activities, was launched in July 2020. With a view to tackling issues that resonate worldwide, SMBC Group set up GGP to identify ways of raising customers’ awareness of global issues and connecting with them via the issues.
GGP’s activities include posting the latest sustainability-related information on its website, hosting seminars and other events featuring invited experts, and holding workshops to formulate ideas on how best to tackle social issues. GGP also distributes a weekly email newsletter on the theme of sustainability. Mindful that our world is flooded with information on sustainability, much of which is of dubious provenance and veracity, the intention is to foster an informed understanding and heightened awareness among readers by publishing high-quality articles. As of October 2021, 15 months since the website went live, some 300 companies had endorsed GGP’s mission and joined as partners. GGP has already launched several projects that create opportunities for SMBC Group’s customers to address social issues.
For example, in order to verify the technical viability of a customer’s technology for extracting ethanol from recyclable waste, a demonstration experiment was conducted jointly with SMBC Group. Ethanol was extracted from paper waste and ethanol for sterilization was produced. These initiatives are introduced on the GGP website. Attracted by the technology’s potential, other GGP partners have joined the project, expanding its scope to include experiments on producing ethanol and other organic compounds from food waste.
Furthermore, GGP is acting as a matchmaker, bringing together partners who wish to tackle major issues such as the circular economy in a collaborative endeavor with other likeminded companies. There are currently five candidate GGP-based projects under consideration. Although GGP has been in existence for a little over a year, its activities are already gaining momentum. So, SMBC is confident that GGP has a bright future as a matchmaking platform for companies who want to make the world a better place.
Rather than setting quantitative targets for the number of partners joining the GGP community or the number of GGP-based projects launched, SMBC is emphasizing the development of GGP as a community where partners with shared aspirations pool their talents and inspire one another, thus expanding the scope and effectiveness of their endeavors for the benefit of society. It is SMBC’s earnest desire that GGP will be a consciousness raiser and a wellspring of powerful new ideas for solving pressing real-world problems, and moreover, as a financial group, SMBC seeks opportunities to support GGP partners’ initiatives.
By raising GGP’s profile, attracting more partners, making it easier for partners to find likeminded counterparts for collaborative endeavors, and continuing to sow the seeds of new projects, SMBC aspires to position the GGP community as a powerful engine whose positive impacts will be felt throughout society.
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