Like many other fellow IAPCO members, Japan’s Congrès Inc., headquartered in Tokyo, has been proactively tackling environmental issues at meetings & events and at the facilities it operates, for many years. Now that the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) have gained attention in many sectors and society in general, on a global scale, Congrès decided that the time was right to organize more in-depth workshops to enhance each employee’s sustainability knowledge, plus serve as a catalyst, as a part of the company’s 4 materiality themes (priority issues or key challenges) to promote the sustainable growth of its business and employees. NISHIMURA Ikuko, IAPCO representative and in-charge of the international convention division, commented, “Our company designed the workshop aiming to have each person think of the SDGs as an integral part of his/her own work and the company’s business, as well as act as a catalyst to inspire people to change their mindset/behavior by experiencing the world of the SDGs through a game.”
On 5 and 8 September 2022, the first 2 workshops were held for employees in the Tokyo area at “Congrès Square Nihonbashi,” a meetings & events facility produced by Congrès. It is planned to have all employees, in headquarters, branch offices and those working at the facilities managed by Congrès nationwide, attend the workshop by January 2023, combining onsite and online formats.
Congrès’ workshop utilizes a card game, “2030 SDGs Game,” designed in Japan in 2016. It simulates taking the “real world” into the year 2030 and gives participants a hands-on experience of how to contribute to achieving the SDGs through co-creating a sustainable world (raising awareness of; “I can do it;” “My actions can make a difference.”), with an element of fun.
The game has been played not only by Japanese companies and organizations, but also by more than 300,000 people around the world in corporate, governmental, educational and community settings, including the United Nations Headquarters in New York in 2019. Indeed, the game experience has become an impactful social phenomenon, drawing broad media coverage in Japan. Applicable to employees in all levels at the company, even Congrès’ President, TAKEUCHI Noriko, took part.
The “2030 SDGs Game” is geared for multiple players in groups, with a facilitator. Congrès invited Mr. TERASHIMA Yoshitomo (Representative, Future Creation Support / Representative Director of Japan Anshin Seikatsu Association) whose organization tackles initiatives in all sectors toward realizing a safe, secure and sustainable daily environment and community, to serve as the facilitator for the September workshops.
Participants progress through the game while paying attention to the “World Condition Meter,” which shows the economic, environmental, and social situation on a whiteboard. As they implement various projects with the aim of achieving the goals assigned to each team (making money, securing leisure time, reducing poverty, protecting the environment, etc.), they learn that there are various dilemmas and tradeoffs along the journey toward creating a well-balanced world that will be sustainable.
The workshop also featured a session for employees to consider Congrès’ business in terms of the SDGs. They juxtaposed the 17 SDGs with the company’s business activities, and discussed in groups what could and should be done. They presented some examples related to the SDGs in each business domain, the impact on the world, strengths & weaknesses of the business, and so on. Reflecting back on the experience, participants shared that by gaining a deeper understanding of the essence of the SDGs, they were able to look at the business and their work objectively from a different perspective, and that it motivated them to think autonomously about what action they could take.
In a survey conducted after the workshop, participants’ impressions included: “I could see the potential for connecting the SDGs to our business,” “One person or one company may not be able to do much toward making a better world, but if they gather together and form a larger group, it can be a force for change,” “I realized anew that there are issues to tackle right around me. Starting today, I will strive to eliminate waste.” There were also other comments related to internal communication: “Playing a game with other employees who usually have few opportunities to interact led to more active internal communication,” “It was a good opportunity to interact with people without regard for affiliation.”
This SDGs-themed workshop is certainly an opportunity for employees to see the connection between sustainability & society and our business, and think about/act on what we can do as individuals and as a company. This will in turn lead to taking action for the good of our industry, society and the global environment.