A Co-innovative Approach to Pursuing a Sustainable Future
The world population is expected to climb to 9.8 billion *1 by the year 2050—with 80% of us concentrated in metropolitan areas. *2 Furthermore, in recent years, extremely powerful typhoons, torrential downpours, droughts and heat waves have occurred with increasing frequency, exacting considerable damage on the lives of people around the world. Achieving global sustainability will demand the cooperation of the governments and industrial and academic sectors of all nations in developing economic, social and environmental approaches to this menacing set of circumstances.
*1: Figure released by United Nations in June 2017.
*2: Global urban population forecast for 2050 released by University of Toronto based on data collected by its global urban research center.
The increase in the global population and the spread of urbanization have created a host of serious issues related to food, water, transport, education, medical care, disaster prevention, energy, and the environment. Of the challenges facing us, global warming presents the most severe risks to human life and economic activity, and this has inspired action toward the creation of a low-carbon society. There are presently numerous noteworthy sustainability-related projects underway around the world.
One of the most significant of these activities is the Paris Accord, a global framework for coping with the climate change issue from 2020. Most of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases are participants in the accord, covering 87.9% of all global emissions and 170 countries and territories as of November 2017.
What makes the agreement a truly groundbreaking achievement are its demands for emission-reduction efforts from all participating countries—including emerging nations—and that the targets to be established are voluntary, based on the circumstances of each participating country. Furthermore, in order for the major emitters of greenhouse gases to meet their targets, it is acknowledged that they will be required to devise strategies intended to achieve both economic growth and environmental improvement. If economic development is not sustained, it will be difficult to create innovative measures to counter global warming and to promote investment into game-changing, energy-efficient products. Resolutions to these issues cannot be considered without taking into account economic and societal factors and impact.
Another activity of critical importance is the transition toward a recycling economy. “Europe 2020,” the strategic agenda for growth devised by the European Union (EU), positions resource efficiency as one of its guiding principles, as evidenced by the May 2015 announcement of the Circular Economy Package, a set of economic initiatives established to support the transition to a recycling economy, with specific targets to be achieved by the year 2030. Unlike the traditional linear economic model which is characterized by resource consumption and disposal, the circular economy features the continuous recovery, recycling, and reuse of consumed resources. It is believed that a recycling economy would feature fewer restrictions on resources and make economic growth possible, leading to the realization of new economic and societal models. And the advent and application of IoT technologies is expected to heighten the efficiency of resource use and reuse—the foundation of the recycling economy—through the interconnection of various types of information.
In September 2015, for the purpose of stimulating activity toward protecting the Earth over the following 15 years, the United Nations (UN) officially adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Buttressing the agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the grand challenge of realizing a society in which no one is left behind. The accomplishment of the SDGs hinges upon both individual and collaborative action—we must boldly face the many challenges and resolve them in order to achieve sustainable development. Among the 17 SDGs and the 169 targets they encompass are poverty, health, education, climate change, environmental degradation, and other issues related to business activities. Corporations are assuming a critical role, taking the initiative in developing technologies and offering solutions in a wide range of fields. Furthermore, by connecting practices implemented toward the achievement of SDGs directly to their business strategies, corporations are displaying a desire to contribute to the resolution of the most pressing issues on the planet. It is no longer possible to conduct business activities without considering sustainability.
For many years, Yokogawa has actively undertaken corporate social responsibility (CSR) endeavors, represented by business activities that promote energy and resource conservation and enhanced operational efficiency and stability for its customers; environmental preservation activities contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas and other emissions, and programs such as support for professional technical education. Throughout its history, the company has conducted CSR activities with a keen awareness of the importance of creating shared value (CSV), viewing the two as essentially collinear. While the “S” in CSR (“social”) designates society overall as the target, the “S” in CSV stands for shared, which indicates direction and represents the inextricable link between what’s good for society and success in business.
In August 2017, toward the realization of a sustainable society for future generations, we issued the “Statement on Yokogawa’s aspirations for sustainability” outlining goals we intend to achieve by 2050. The statement serves to illustrate Yokogawa’s awareness of its corporate responsibilities as a global citizen, and its determination to work with its stakeholders to create new value toward the resolution of key global issues, and contribute to bringing the vision of a more affluent, sustainable society to fruition.
We’re convinced that “environment” and “development” are not mutually exclusive; they can and must co-exist. Today we are seeing activities taking place globally that were developed with the SDGs in mind, and Yokogawa is no exception—we believe that the SDGs are key sustainability indicators, and are expanding business activities that contribute to the achievement of these goals.
In our Industrial Automation and Control Business, which accounts for about 90% of our revenue, we are contributing to enhanced energy supply chain efficiency through energy-reduction activities such as support for efficient, stable plant operation and the visualization of energy costs with the goal of resolving issues concerning resources and energy, climate change, and air and water. The promotion of the judicious use of resources and energy not only provides our customers with significant financial benefits and societal value; it leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions.
The transition from continued use of the earth’s finite supply of fossil fuels is a critical global issue, and the introduction of renewable energy has spread to all corners of the globe. Greenhouse gas emissions generated by sunlight, solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy are lower in volume, and do not use exhaustible resources for fuel. However, these types of energy require a considerable amount of land to produce, are easily influenced by weather and other natural conditions, and can incur considerable cost in development and production. But spurred by increased environmental awareness and technological advancement, they are establishing a stronger presence as cleaner forms of energy. Around the world, control systems, controllers, sensors, and other products and solutions developed by Yokogawa—including a solar thermal plant in Australia, a wind farm in China, and a biomass power plant in Brazil and a geothermal power station in Indonesia—are serving as key elements in the proliferation of renewable energy.
Yokogawa is also proactively promoting the transition to a recycling economy in a variety of ways, including the desalination of seawater to create fresh water. While approximately 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, over 97% of it is seawater. There are many regions that, though they may live in proximity to relatively clean seawater, do not have access to the fresh water necessary for daily life. In the Middle East, for instance, the water shortage resulting from recent rapid industrialization and increasing populations in metropolitan areas has become a pressing issue, and there are many desalination plants currently under construction. Through the operation of control systems for desalination plants that ensure high reliability and stability, we are working to expand the supply of safe water.
We’re not just supporting industry and societal infrastructure with our systems and technologies — we’re contributing to the resolution of critical local issues as well. In Saudi Arabia and Tatarstan (Russian Federation) we have established business-academia collaboration with local universities. Yokogawa is actively promoting R&D and technical education. We also provide employment opportunities and promote diversity by supporting the active involvement of women in society. Through these and a host of other programs, Yokogawa works to co-exist with local communities and support their continued growth, with the ultimate goal of realizing sustainable societal and economic development.
Our activities in energy and numerous other fields not only generate direct benefits for our customers; they deliver significant value to end users, and subsequently contribute to society and to the improvement of the global environment.
In the spirit of the Paris Accord and the UN’s SDGs, Yokogawa has set three sustainability goals for 2050: achieving net-zero emissions, transitioning to a circular economy, and ensuring well-being for all. In this historic global endeavor, Yokogawa’s role is to work together with its customers to accomplish these three objectives, moving us all that much closer to realizing a sustainable future.