MOL, NYK to increase focus on sustainability in 2021

Sustainability will be a central topic in 2021 for Japanese shipping majors Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK).

Illustration. Image Coutesy: NYK

2020 was clearly a difficult year during which the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world. Many businesses slowed down investments in green projects due to coronavirus-related challenges.

However, this does not mean that measures to return to a growth trajectory have been suspended, according to MOL.

In 2021, the two companies intend to focus more on sustainability goals that would support both their businesses and the environment.

MOL setting up new sustainability division

MOL unveiled decision to launch a dedicated division to plan and promote the company’s environmental and sustainability strategies in April.

“Decarbonization is an unavoidable issue for the ocean shipping industry, which for the time being relies on fossil fuels. While LNG will gain wider acceptance as a relatively low-carbon fuel, we must engage in development and use of alternative fuels that will promote decarbonization, and embody sustainability ahead of the global tide,” Junichiro Ikeda, President & CEO of MOL, explained in his New Year message.

Ikeda added that discussions are ongoing about MOL’s next management plan, “Rolling Plan 2021”. This year will be the start of activities under the new corporate philosophy and long-term vision to ensure further growth.

“Actions in 2021 include ensuring a return to the growth trajectory as stated in the last fiscal year and staying ahead of the curve in responding to significant social and economic changes, which will come at a rapid pace. While our customers must address changes stemming from decarbonization and other issues, our group, which plays a key role in their supply chains, must also contribute,”

“I see creativity and innovation to be the keys to success in our group’s future growth strategies. How can our group add value to customers’ supply chains? I will push forward specific company-wide actions, while connecting to future portfolio strategies and business strategies.”

NYK: ESG to gain prominence this year

Throughout 2020, NYK continued to fuse the group’s growth strategy with ESG and promote various initiatives to solve social issues in order to achieve sustainable growth.

As disclosed by NYK, the term Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) will likely receive more attention in 2021.

In Japan, the establishment of a JPY 2 trillion fund for supporting R&D in the green domain has been announced officially, and similar movements are already underway elsewhere around the world. 

“Companies that fail to respond to society’s demands in relation to ESG will, without a doubt, not survive more than several years,” Hitoshi Nagasawa, NYK president, stressed in his New Year’s speech.

“However, it is not enough just to talk about the importance of ESG. In order to firmly establish ESG as part of our corporate culture, it will be necessary for all employees throughout the group to fully understand and to transform awareness so that ESG is used as a measure for judging all actions.”

Nagasawa further said that the group will announce an NYK Group ESG Story in February this year.