Covid-19 brings about increased sustainability awareness in Japan

ICC Kyoto, where the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, is surrounded by greenery and has an eco-friendly certification.

Organisations in Japan are more likely to be interested in sustainable business events post-pandemic, thanks to increased awareness among the public of green issues, according to experts in Tokyo.

Lockdowns introduced to control the pandemic have resulted in improved air and water quality in major cities worldwide as well as more sightings of wildlife, leaving people considering how they can continue to reduce their impact on the environment even after the crisis subsides.

ICC Kyoto, where the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, is surrounded by greenery and has an eco-friendly certification; its main hall pictured

“The crisis has given people pause to stop and think (about sustainability). This is an opportunity to reboot,” Tove Kinooka, co-founder and director of sustainability consultancy Global Perspectives, told TTGmice.

Furthermore, the pandemic has dispelled concerns and myths that more sustainable options for businesses were not possible.

“It has proved that massive, fast change is possible when we put our minds to it,” she said.

This greener consciousness, boosted by the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, is giving the concept of sustainable events greater traction in Japan.

Industry experts say organisations view greener options as a way to help them better engage with staff, clients, investors and stakeholders.
As such, an uptick in demand is expected across the business events spectrum, from choosing greener venues and local plant-based cuisine to minimising waste and introducing sustainability-focused teambuilding activities.

As transportation to events is a big environmental consideration, Nobuaki Koshikawa, deputy general manager of human resources and general affairs at sustainable development company Cerespo Co., believes that post-pandemic, the number of online events will continue to increase.

“Up until now, it has been said that the value of an event lies in everyone sharing the same space and time and having direct communication,” he said. But since Covid-19 happened, this idea has been disrupted, with seminars and conferences held successfully online.

“After Covid-19, we need to think whether events will be online or offline, whether all programmes should be offered directly, and how we can reach more people. By considering this, the environmental and economic cost of events will be lighter,” he opined.

Koshikawa also predicts that increased interest in environmental issues will result in increased expectations for sustainable events, as well as more events about sustainability.

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