Rising Awareness of Social Issues
The outlook for the global economy remains highly uncertain due to the protracted situation in Ukraine, economic reopening after the pandemic as vaccinations rates increase, rising interest rates worldwide to control inflation, and growing competition in semiconductor manufacturing as countries move to protect their national interests. Meanwhile, amid record-high average global temperatures, sustainability initiatives and rule formation are gaining momentum and becoming more widespread in response to demands from society. The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has released its latest sustainability disclosure standards, companies are now required to broaden assessments of climate change risks and opportunities to include the impact on nature itself, and there is growing emphasis on human rights due-diligence and the use of human capital based on respect for diversity.
The Kurita Group’s main business is the provision of solutions that address ever-changing issues related to water at various sites around the world. Following my appointment as Kurita’s president in April 2023, my main responsibility now is to ensure the Group continues to provide unique value and contributes to the creation of a sustainable society. This will mean accurately assessing risks and opportunities in our constantly changing operating environment and leveraging the Group’s “water knowledge” accumulated over more than 70 years in the water and environmental fields.
From CSR to Sustainability
Under our Maximize Value Proposition 2022 (MVP-22) medium-term management plan,
which ended in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2023, we put CSR at the core of
management. This included establishing materiality as Kurita’s CSR Policy, setting
materiality metrics and targets, and working to achieve these targets. We also
enhanced information disclosure and stakeholder engagement with respect to these
initiatives, using feedback from stakeholders to verify our approach and make
improvements. These efforts were recognized by third parties, with Kurita being
added to leading ESG indices.
One of the materiality initiatives – creating shared value with society by promoting the “CSV business*” approach Groupwide – has helped to raise awareness among our employees about the importance of creating value that is informed by social issues. We also developed a “Value Creation Story” that sets out the Group’s path to sustainable, long-term growth with society in order to realize our corporate philosophy, with every one of the Group’s employees expected to play their part. These initiatives helped the Kurita Group lay the foundations for sustainability management.
To coincide with the start of our new medium-term management plan,
Pioneering Shared Value 2027 (PSV-27), which launched in April 2023, we overhauled the Kurita Group Philosophy System
and updated our Corporate Vision to “Pioneering ‘new value for water’ to contribute
to the realization of a sustainable society.” These changes have extended the
concept at the core of Kurita’s management from CSR to sustainability. We define
sustainability as corporate activities within the natural environment and social
systems, and the pursuit of sustainable growth that takes into account the impact of
these activities on the environment and social systems, and vice versa. We also
revisited key issues for achieving our Corporate Vision, referencing the latest
global challenges related to sustainability. We call these issues the “Kurita Group’s Materiality,” which is divided into two broad categories ― “Shared value themes” that lead to
the creation of shared value with society, and “Basic themes” that serve as the
foundation for our management and business activities.
This has resulted in changes to the Group’s materiality. “Reduce waste” was updated to “Contribute to building a circular economy society,” reflecting changing conditions in society, and “Strategic development and utilization of human resources” was added. Compared with MVP-22, the number of metrics and targets for each of the eight material issues has doubled, and we have launched a raft of initiatives to back up our vision of becoming a “pioneer” in providing greater value to society, such as measures to mitigate the trade-off between CO2 emissions and water conservation. In June 2023, Kurita transitioned to a “Company with a Nominating Committee, etc.” Under this new corporate governance structure, we will work to address the Group’s materiality using a supervisory framework that takes into account the views of diverse stakeholders.
Weaving the Kurita Group’s Vision with Warp and Weft
The Kurita Group’s Corporate Philosophy ― “Study the properties of water, master them, and we will create an environment in which nature and humanity are in harmony” ― is supported by the Kurita Group Corporate Philosophy System. These elements are like the warp in a textile. What color of weft should be added to bring this textile to life? We want every member in the Group to become pioneers, weaving their individual weft into our vision by finding their own mission and acting in the best interests of society. In this way, we hope to show a vibrant vision to stakeholders though initiatives that tackle the Kurita Group’s Materiality.
- * Products, technologies, and business models that are highly effective in saving water, reducing CO2 emissions and reducing waste, helping to achieve the objectives and targets in the sustainable development goals (SDGs). (Definition in MVP-22 plan)