Third Party Opinion
Third party Opinion of NEC’s Annual Environmental Report 2017
Saburo Kato, Konoe Fujimura
Joint Representatives, Japan Association of Environment and Society for the 21st Century
Pressure emanating from a rising world population and expanding scale of economies and globalization is setting off red flags in terms of ensuring a sustainable global society where more than 7 billion people live.
In light of this crisis, the international community with the United Nations at its helm, has not been sitting idle. Various measures have been implemented since the 1980s, and two revolutionary agreements were reached in 2015. One was the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set in September of that year, and the other was the Paris Agreement on climate change concluded in December of the same year.
In the wake of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, national and local governments, together with leading-edge companies, launched initiatives to contribute to the achievements of these goals. This report makes it readily apparent that NEC has mobilized as a global company, applying its experience, technology, human resources and so on as it dedicates efforts to addressing global issues.
Although efforts were focused on achieving its long-term plan, which was revised last year to place more stringent emphasis on climate change, NEC failed to reach some of its targets for single-year indicators owing to a slight decrease in sales. Nevertheless, we have been making steady progress overall toward the achievement of the company’s long-term targets.
A noteworthy point is the introduction of various examples demonstrating the link between the SDGs and seven social value creation themes pursued by NEC, and the link between the SDGs and climate change. The report highlights NEC’s initiatives that contribute solutions directly to climate change risks that fall under NEC’s field of expertise, such as increased deployment of renewable energy, and the use of large-scale storage systems and disaster simulation systems to ensure stable energy supply. A look at the presentation materials used by NEC’s top executives demonstrate that initiatives that leverage NEC’s AI, IoT and other ICT technologies to contribute to SDGs – for instance, using NEC’s proprietary Heterogeneous Mixture Learning technologies for highly accurate demand forecasting to control the waste and loss of food, and using AI to support farming operations – are clearly being pursued in line with the seven social value creation themes. In other words, consideration of the environment has become an integral part of NEC’s business operations, and environmental initiatives are expected to create tremendous value to environmental outcomes. Going forward, we plan to continue engaging in initiatives for which we anticipate concrete results in the future.
With the publication of this report, NEC has set out the direction of its climate change measures for 2050. The report demonstrates NEC’s sincerity and commitment in building a sustainable business foundation and supply chain in order to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society. Up to now, the company’s long-term guidelines and targets for 2050 have been somewhat ambiguous, and some aspects of NEC's message as to its future direction have been less than clear. NEC’s declaration to reduce CO₂ emissions from the supply chain to zero in 2050 conveys a clear message to stakeholders in regards to NEC’s goal regarding climate change.
The next important step to achieve this goal is for everyone at NEC, from the top down, to recognize the need to engage in initiatives to deliver on the SDGs and Paris Agreement, and shift awareness and knowledge into concrete action. Going forward, providing thorough training that promotes environmental action based on a recognized need to solve global issues is another issue with which NEC must contend.
Further, it has become evidently clear that merely continuing with existing initiatives to improve efficiency and reduce the emissions intensity of products is simply not enough to achieve zero CO₂ emissions. Through dialogues with our stakeholders based on fundamental questions such as what kind of company NEC will become in 2030 and then in 2050, and what the ideal relationship should be between humans and the ever-evolving AI, we hope to carve out future pathways as we embark on a process of trial and error in our pursuit of bold actions towards achievement of the vision.