Under the leadership of the Environment Minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Ministry of the Environment of Japan in 2019 established the “ESG Finance Awards Japan” to salute private sector initiatives aiming to create outstanding impacts on the environment and society. The Ministry has a long track record of being a strong advocate for ESG finance and corporate sustainability activities.
To recognize sustainability leadership throughout the industry awards were given in the following categories: Corporate, Investments, Bonds, Financial Services including Insurance, and Banking.
The winners were announced at the inaugural award ceremony held on 26 February 2020, attended by the Minister. UNEP FI’s Japanese members were prominent among the winners.
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank received the Gold Prize in the Banking category. They were lauded for their innovative project to develop the first–of–its–kind loan agreement based on UNEP FI’s Positive Impact Finance Framework on Unspecified Use of Funds, as well as their strong commitment to impact analysis and active engagement with lendee companies on sustainable transition.
In the banking category, four more UNEP FI banking members were recognised – Development Bank of Japan, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Shiga Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (in alphabetical order).
Development Bank of Japan won the Silver Prize in recognition of its 15 plus years’ track record for its environmentally-rated loan program – the world’s first loan scheme based on environmentally responsible ratings developed back in 2004. Their close support to lendee companies within the program was also highlighted as a model for corporate ESG engagement on sustainability and economic transition.
Shiga Bank, which has been placing strong emphasis on environmental management for many years and taking leadership on sustainability issues among the provincial banks across Japan, won the Silver Prize. Shiga Bank‘s nature-oriented initiatives such as its unique biodiversity conservation rated loan program based on the “Principles for Lake Biwa (PLB)” and its medium-term corporate strategy which incorporates the SDGs were acknowledged.
In the financial services category, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance received the Silver Prize for their efforts to offer sustainability solutions through their core business. Namely, the development of disaster prevention and mitigation cost insurance and weather index insurance products, and their wide promotion in Japan and overseas were recognised as contributing to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation.
Yuki Yasui, UNEP FI’s Asia Pacific Coordination Manager, was part of the judge panel headed by Professor Tetsuo Kitagawa of Aoyama Gakuin University.