[ Keidanren ] [ Journal ]
Messages from "Economic Trend", February 2012

Nature Conservation and the Role of the Business Community

Vice Chairman of the Board of Councillors, Keidanren
Chairman of the Board, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.

Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) launched the "Global Environment Charter" in 1991, prior to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit of 1992). Since 1992, Keidanren has been actively engaged in a variety of nature preservation programs through the Committee on Nature Conservation. According to the annual survey on social contribution activities conducted by the "1% Club," out of the corporate expenditure on social contribution, the proportion of environmental activities has been showing an increasing trend in recent years, along with the activities related to education or social education, displaying the growing corporate interest in the environmental protection initiatives.

Tokio Marine & Nichido has been planting mangrove in Southeast Asian countries and others since 1999. While recovering mangrove forests from deterioration due to economic developments or other external factors, it has proved effective in nourishing ecosystem and contributing to mitigation efforts against global warming. Assisted by NGOs and local residents, the company has planted 6,824 hectares of mangrove (which equate to 1,459 Tokyo Domes) so far. In 2009, Tokio Marine & Nichido introduced the "Green Gift Project," through which the company recommends policyholders to view their policy wordings on website instead of receiving paper documents. The company then donates funds to plant mangrove saplings, depending on the number of policies. In other words, Tokio Marine & Nichido's policyholders can contribute to environmental protection by choosing web-based policies.

After ten years of planting, the older mangroves have grown large enough to revive the ecosystem, and to bring fisheries back to the local tribes as their means of living. There also emerged local communities which came to recognize the gifts brought by mangrove forests, and started mangrove preservation activities on their own. Meanwhile in Japan, Tokio Marine & Nichido has been running "Green Lessons: The Mangrove Story," which is an environmental education program for elementary school children served by employee volunteers. The program offers an opportunity for the future generation to give their thoughts on environmental issues.

Nature conservation calls for a cross-sector coordination between governments, business community, academics, NGOs, civilians and other stakeholders to engage in concerted and lasting efforts. Evidently, there is a mounting expectation towards the business community to take a leadership role in mobilizing the interested parties. Supported by customers, NGOs and the local residents, Tokio Marine & Nichido regards the mangrove planting activity as "insurance for the future of the Earth," and stays committed to its long-term goals.

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