Tokyo, 9 October 2019: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) ), Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) have launched a Japanese edition of WBCSD’s CEO Guide to Human Rights, emphasizing the growing importance of the debate in Japan.
The CEO Guide provides Japanese-speaking business leaders with a narrative and a set of arguments to engage peers in a dialogue on the role of business in ensuring respect for human rights and contributing to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Guide was introduced in Tokyo today by Peter Bakker, WBCSD’s President and CEO, at a meeting chaired by Masaya Futamiya, Chair of Keidaren’s Committee on Responsible Business Conduct & SDGs Promotion and Chairman and Representative Director of Sompo Japan Nipponkoa.
“Business has a fundamental responsibility to respect human rights. Forward-thinking business leaders are viewing human rights not only as a risk, but as an opportunity for their companies to influence positive, transformative changes in people’s lives. Realizing universal human rights for all is one of the most powerful opportunities we have to contribute to the SDGs”, said Peter Bakker, WBCSD’s President and CEO. “The Guide puts forward a bold and unprecedented statement from business leaders, whose companies’ actions and policies influence vast global supply chains. We hope their leadership will inspire other CEOs across Japan and beyond to take action in support of this important cause.”
For his part, Masaya Futamiya commented: “When companies integrate the SDGs into their business strategies, they should address business and human rights as an important component of the SDGs.”
Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi, President of IGES, emphasized: “Protection, respect and remedies for human rights are now essential elements not only for the realization of the SDGs, with their pledge of “no one left behind,” but also for ensuring the sustainability of the company itself.”
Keidanren’s membership is composed of 1,412 representative companies of Japan, 109 nationwide industrial associations and 47 regional economic organizations. Keidanren encourages its members to adhere to its Charter of Corporate Behavior in an effort to establish and maintain public confidence in the business community. The Charter, titled “Delivering on the SDGs through the Realization of Society 5.0”, refers to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and lays out as one of the Charter’s ten points the principle of conducting business that “respects the human rights of all persons.”
For its part, IGES’ aim is to achieve a new paradigm for civilization and conduct innovative policy development and strategic research for environmental measures, reflecting the results of research into political decisions for realizing sustainable development both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.
About the CEO Guide to Human Rights
The CEO Guide highlights four drivers for action beyond compliance that make a compelling business case for any corporate leader:
- Regulation is making expectations enforceable;
- Public interest is high;
- Business relationships are in the spotlight; and
- Investor expectations are rising.
CEO leadership plays a crucial role in ensuring that human rights are taken seriously across their own companies and business relationships. To support this, the CEO Guide highlights actions that executives can take to advance respect for human rights:
- Know the most important human rights for your company;
- Lead from the top;
- Engage transparently with stakeholders;
- Collaborate beyond your comfort zone.