In September 2015, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that included 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the Agenda emphasized a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.
The SDGs are not just a blueprint but a comprehensive action plan for businesses, governments, and communities to support the shared prosperity of people and the planet. Organizations are expected to develop long-term frameworks and take ownership of this push for sustainability to realize the SDGs and create a better world.
Hitachi was one of the first companies to adopt the UN SDG’s and integrate them as part of their Corporate and Business strategies. This came naturally since many of the SDGs were already part of Hitachi’s long legacy of Social Innovation.
When Namihei Odaira founded Hitachi in 1910, his mission for the company was clear: “Contribute to society through the development of superior, original, technology and products.” For me, the key words are “contribute to society.”
In 2006, Hitachi Ltd. committed to a new corporate strategy to stabilize business performance and create a foundation for long-term growth based on its vision of contributing to solutions that address fundamental global challenges. At this time, Hitachi had grown into 900-plus business units, serving diverse sectors, ranging from power systems, appliances, transportation systems, and advanced materials, to construction equipment, data centers, and much more. Ultimately, Hitachi wanted to ensure that the new strategy aligned its businesses around the common theme of “social innovation” and provided a platform for innovation and sustained growth. To do it, the company created a strategy for social innovation that would strengthen commercial performance and contribute solutions to help solve global challenges linked to sustainability.
Then, in fiscal 2017, Hitachi immersed itself in the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. Executive Sustainability Committee meetings chaired by Executive Chairman, President & CEO Toshiaki Higashihara, considered the UN’s designated 17 SDGs, and the opportunities and risks they represented. It then identified 11 of the goals that posed the most important social challenges for Hitachi: five in which Hitachi could make significant impact through its business strategy, and six others the company believed were most relevant to Hitachi’s commitment to society, and which cut across all areas of the business and could affect Hitachi’s very sustainability as a company.
Embracing the belief that Hitachi can contribute broadly to the achievement of the SDGs through a wide range of business activities, the company is also investigating options for supporting the remaining six SDGs in the short-to-medium term. Hitachi is committed to supporting efforts to reach all SDGs, both directly and indirectly, especially in terms of the interaction and interdependence between them.
Updates on Hitachi’s Sustainability goals are documented and updated on the Sustainability website. Hitachi, Ltd.’s, Executive Sustainability Committee meets twice a year to discuss and reach decisions on important policies and measures related to sustainability, share progress and results, and find ways to connect these to further improvements and new initiatives. The members of this committee include Senior Executive Committee members, business unit CEOs, and Hitachi, Ltd., division heads.
While the recent progress to achieve SDGs by 2030, has suffered a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global response which resulted in the development of new forms of vaccines is encouraging. As noted in the UN report, resilience, adaptability, and innovation, will be the key to getting us back on track. Hitachi’s corporate commitment and business strategy for social innovation will ensure that Hitachi will be focused on helping to achieve these goals.
SDG’s Early Report Card
Last year, the UN released The Sustainable Development Goals Report on the progress of the Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. The report included an index of the goals and dashboards to track the progress. Unfortunately, the annual report showed a major reversal in progress. The decline in SDG performance was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change and very few of the goals for 2030 are on track.
To mention a few:
- Covid-19 led to the first rise in extreme poverty in a generation
- An additional 70-161 million people are likely to experience hunger
- The pandemic has halted or reversed progress in health and shortened life expectancy
- Covid-19 has wiped out 20 years of educational gains
- 129 countries will not have sustainably managed water resources by 2030
- The climate crisis continues unabated
There were, however, positive indicators. The UN report did note that the resilience, adaptability, and innovation that was demonstrated during the pandemic did bring some hope for optimism. In the face of tremendous challenges, many governments, the private sector, academia and communities demonstrated quick responses, remarkable creativity and new forms of collaboration. It is hoped that the lessons learned from the pandemic will help us rise to current and future challenges.
A Message From Our President & CEO
“Through its diverse range of current and future business activities, Hitachi will contribute significantly to resolving social and environmental issues and establishing an inclusive, harmonious, and prosperous world. To achieve this, we will continue to promote innovative solutions and collaborative creation with our business partners and stakeholders. At the same time, through responsible corporate conduct, we will reduce and mitigate negative impacts on people and the global environment and actively contribute to achieving global targets like the Sustainable Development Goals.” —Toshiaki Higashihara, Executive Chairman, President & CEO, Hitachi, Ltd.
This is what “sustainability” means to Hitachi.
Hu Yoshida is CTO Emeritus at Hitachi Vantara.
- Insights: The Role of Data in the Struggle for Clean Water
- Insights: The Confluent Enterprise: Where Digital and Decarbonization Meet
- Insights: The Surprise Behind the Green Enterprise
- Insights: Drafting Our Green Blueprint for the Future