Photo/IllutrationShinya Katanozaka, president of ANA Holdings Inc. (Kazuo Yamamoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Editor’s note: The United Nations adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015 and urged all its member countries to make efforts to achieve them by 2030.

The 17 include “no poverty,” “zero hunger,” “good health and well-being, “quality education,” “gender equality” and “climate action.”

Then, how should companies introduce those goals in their businesses?

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed 10 top executives of companies belonging to the Global Compact Network Japan (GCNJ), which mainly consists of firms supporting SDGs.

The following is the eighth of the series. The interviewee is Shinya Katanozaka, president of ANA Holdings Inc.

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A big challenge we are faced with at ANA Holdings Inc. is how to improve fuel economy and cut the emissions of carbon dioxide as an airline group.

The perspective of sustainable development goals (SDGs) is integral to the airline industry, given the diversity of customers whose backgrounds vary.

We stated the need for having the viewpoint of SDGs in our business operations when we released our group’s annual report in 2016.

In the 2017 annual report, we sorted out challenges that could affect our management in the areas of the environment, human rights and local revitalization and showed those challenges’ relevance to 17 SDGs on a chart.

In the 2018 annual report, we carry a discussion with a university professor who has an expertise in SDGs.

Since ANA Holdings’ businesses are globally operated, our tasks includes a response to human trafficking. Many aircraft have been used to transport victims of child labor, forced labor, sexually oriented businesses and other forms of human trafficking.

Our cabin crews can thwart human trafficking attempts if they detect something suspicious among passengers and alert authorities to it.

In the United States, there was a case in which flight attendants trained in the field saved passengers from falling victim to human trafficking.

Such training was given by private groups well versed in the issue.

In our human rights issue policy released in April 2016, ANA Holdings pledged to fulfill its corporate responsibility by paying respects to human rights issues in our business activities.

Some of our directors were initially cautious about making the commitment, but they subsequently agreed on it after a series of discussions held within the company to take a clear position on the human rights issue.

This year, we published an annual report on the human rights issue in which we discussed our approach to the question. Part of the report is dedicated to the subject of foreign workers.

Around 2004, when I assumed the post as chief of the company’s human resources department, the concept of corporate social responsibility was spreading among Japanese businesses.

In the new post, I began attending gatherings organized by the Japanese arm of the U.N. Global Compact, which advocates the protection of the environment and human rights, to learn about biodiversity and child labor.

ANA Holdings is still involved in the effort by having senior officials from our company attend those meetings.

As SDGs encompass 17 goals spanning to broader areas, we should look at them not in a narrow framing just as part of a contribution to society, but as questions on a global scale that businesses are expected to find a solution to.

What is indispensable to businesses are sustainability and growth, which are exactly what SDGs are calling for.

We need to make profits in order to contribute to achieving the SDGs. In other words, striving to achieve SDGs is managing our company itself.

Another area we have been endeavoring is revitalizing local regions. It is because we cannot maintain local lines unless a regional economy is robust.

The Onsen & Gastronomy Tourism Association, set up two years ago with its secretariat established within the ANA Strategic Research Institute, an affiliate, is part of the efforts in this direction.

The purpose of the association is to offer chances to vacationers to enjoy local cuisines and culture while visiting onsen hot spring resorts in various regions. Walking and other events are offered in each region so that visitors can help the cause of SDGs while having fun.

(This article is based on an interview by Asahi Shimbun Staff Writer Hironori Kato.)

STEPPING UP FIGHT AGAINST NATURAL DISASTERS

After western Japan was hit hard by torrential rains in July, ANA Holdings offered free seats on its flights to volunteers heading to affected areas to help victims. A similar effort was made last year in the aftermath of a series of strong earthquakes that had shaken Kumamoto Prefecture. The airline offered free tickets to people who led efforts to rebuild local regions devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami as well as the 2004 Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake so that they will also be of service to the affected people in Kumamoto. The company is still involved in efforts to rebuild the Tohoku region stricken by the Great East Japan Earthquake. For example, ANA Holdings sends some of its employees to Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, every year to have them join the operation to thin forests there.