Initiative SDGs proposal for West Harima Region Comapanies from Student perspectives

The presentation aimed to propose initiatives for the SDGs from the Faculty of Human Science and Environment student’s perspective, targeting six companies in Tatsuno City and Shiso City in the West Harima region.

The projects started at the end of March 2023, based on the agreement between the Industry and Academy Joint Research Organisation, Nishihyogo Shinkin Bank and the Tatsuno Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The main activities of the project were: from May to August, students visited the companies to conduct a survey, from October to December, an interview was conducted based on the results of the company visits and further research.

The results of the survey were then analysed to derive innovative proposals for the companies, which were then publicly presented. The six companies surveyed were of various sizes, ranging from 50 to 400 employees and covered a wide range of industries.

Mr Kiichi Kuwagaki, President of Nishihyogo Shinkin Bank, gave the opening address.”The West Harima region is facing a decrease in population causing many economic issues. Our effort to contribute to the SDGs may be one way to tackle the economic issues in the area. I hope today will become the first step towards further momentum for the SDGs development in local economy”.

Associate Professor Naoki Masuhara of the Faculty of Human Science and Environment gave a brief overview of the project.”We emphasised the ‘experience‘of the visit, such as the atmosphere of the factory and work environment, which can be only endured by visiting, and is beyond what can be seen on the website”.

Based on this survey, Associate Professor Naoki Masuhara also presented his own proposal entitled “Towards the creation of a West Harima-style corporate philosophy”, pointing out the similarity seen in the West-Harima region companies. Through the surveys, it seemed companies are expected to cover a wide range of areas. If this is the characteristic of companies in the West Harima region, the key to contributing to SDGs is by developing it. In other words, they can expand their business and operations from a local set to large stakeholders. It would be good if we could develop and increase such enterprises.

First, students belonging to Professor Kazunori Nakajima’s seminar presented their proposals to two companies: the Nishihyogo Shinkin Bank, and Yamahiro Corporation, a general building contractor that carries out renovation and restoration of old private houses. The three main proposals were “Endorsement and awareness of the TCFD”, “Creation and brokerage of compost” and “Renovation of vacant houses and financial education”. The group also highlighted the possibility of achieving six SDGs targets, including No. 4 ‘Quality Education’, No. 8 ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ and No. 11 ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’.

Secondly, students from Associate Professor Masuhara’s seminar, surveyed KLASS Corporation manufacturers, whom sell labour-saving equipment for tatami and wallpaper installation, kitchen equipment, etc. Presenting three points: human resources,energy and disaster.

Human resources: increasing employment and creating a comfortable working environment. Energy: effective use of energy. Disaster: peace of mind in times of emergency, including No. 3 “Good Health and Well-being” and No. 7″Affordable and Clean Energy”. The students proposed production and consumption, supplying machinery and energy within the local community, and collaboration with other manufacturing companies.

For Igawara Sangyo Co.,Ltd. proposed a branding strategy and a merger of operation offices with a contribution to decarbonised energy, and creating a better work environment for women, explaining that they can achieve five SDGs targets, including No. 5 “Gender Equality” and No. 9 “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”.

Lastly, students belonging to Professor Ayako Takahashi’s seminar presented their research on two companies: Nagata Sangyo Corporation supplies food materials such as wheat starch and wheat protein, and Higashimaru Shouyu Co.Ltd., engaged in the production and sale of soy sauce and broth. The group members analysed the results of their interviews with the two companies from four perspectives Work Life Balance (WLB), contribution to the local community, product development and recycling from which they derived their proposals.

For Nagata Group Holding Ltd., proposed the implementation of dietary education events in collaboration with NPO and universities, and more visible company advertisements.

For Higashimaru Shouyu Co. Ltd., the implementation of food education events, as it is a moral agency and carries on traditional Japanese food, by the Kyoto branch to create an image of Kyoto and ethical consumption from the perspective of a company carrying on traditional Japanese food and fulfilling its ethical responsibilities.

Ms. Eri Hayakawa of the Regional Economy Division, Department of Industry and Labour, Hyogo Prefecture, gave an introduction on the SDGs initiatives of the Department of Industry and Labour, Hyogo Prefecture, entitled “Overview of Hyogo Industrial SDGs Certification Project and Examples of Initiatives by Certified Companies”, after which she gave comments to the presentations.

She commented, I was surprised how the companies were well analysed and each proposal based on the evidence. The how and why of particular SDGs aimed proposal was made could be clarified for improvements.

Mr. Yusuke Sakamoto, Kinki Regional Environment Office, Ministry of the Environment, mentioned the idea of circulating within the region to newly stimulate the economy as an initiative idea. Ideas suggested from a consumer point of view.

Finally, Mr Masaki Koroyasu, Chairman of the Tatsuno Chamber of Commerce and Industry and President of KLASS Corporation, gave a closing remark. “Nowadays SDGs are a primal goal for companies. I believe any company’s principles are somewhat connected to the SDGs. In other words, there are as many ways of contributing to the SDGs as there are management principles. The fact that six companies from Tatsuno and Shisou City received various proposals from students today was a very valuable opportunity to connect with students. To make the most of this connection, we hope that students will also look at companies in Tatsuno and Shisou for their future career options.