Policies and Basic Approach
Under the Environmental Policy, Mitsui & Co. has set out the Action Guideline of "evaluating the impact that we have on the conservation of biological diversity and giving the utmost consideration to the environment." Our business activities are the result of a variety of connections to a diverse range of living beings and are therefore hugely dependent on the benefits of biodiversity. We aim to minimize our impact on the environment by conserving biodiversity both through our business activities and through our efforts in other areas, such as social contribution activities. Specific initiatives in our business activities include using sustainable commodities, such as forest and marine resources, and preventing any environmental impact on areas adjacent to our operational sites. In our social contribution activities, we are conserving biodiversity through initiatives such as Mitsui's Forests and the Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund.
Mine Closure Policy
Our policy on mine closure is to comply with laws and regulations and to follow proper procedures according to a plan to minimize impact on the environment and society in adjacent areas, while promoting development of local communities.
In our mining activities, we formulate business plans which incorporate future mine closures including sufficient funding plan and rehabilitations. Environmental impact is thoroughly assessed during the project formation stage as well as during mine operation. We also seek reviews from the authorities and relevant experts in order to not only comply with laws and regulations but also to minimize impact on communities and the local environment.
Goals and Targets
Sustainable Use of Commodities that are Crucial to Biodiversity
- Aiming to procure natural rubber, palm oil, timber and paper products that have zero connection to deforestation.
- Increasing the ratio of sustainable certified palm oil procurement, including RSPO-certified, to 100% by 2030.
- Maintaining and managing Mitsui's Forests that have been designated as Biodiversity Conservation Forests (subcategorized as Special Conservation Forests and others) by carrying out regular ecosystem monitoring with an awareness of the need to conserve biodiversity.
- Contributing to reforestation and the protection of endangered species by providing support through the Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund for activities and research linked to the conservation and use of ecoservices and procurement that enables ecosystems and humans to coexist.
Sustainability Governance and Oversight
The Sustainability Committee works under the Executive Committee to plan, formulate and provide proposals on basic management policies, business activities, and corporate policies and strategies related to biodiversity.
The Sustainability Committee is structured so that its activities are appropriately supervised by the Board of Directors, and matters discussed by the Sustainability Committee are regularly discussed and reported to the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors.
|Officer in charge||Shinichiro Omachi (Representative Director, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer, Chairperson of the Sustainability Committee)|
|Deliberative body||Sustainability Committee|
|Department in Charge||Corporate Sustainability Div.|
Please refer to the links below for more information on Mitsui’s Sustainability Management Framework and the activities of the Sustainability Committee.
Structure for Conserving and Monitoring Biodiversity in Mitsui's Forests
Areas of Mitsui's Forests that have a high significance from a biodiversity perspective (about 10% of the total area) have been designated as Biodiversity Conservation Forests and these have been classified into various categories to facilitate management that conserves biodiversity. Each forestry office monitors local ecosystems by setting up core surveying plots in three different locations in accordance with the size of the forest and its situation in regard to habitats of rare species. Surveys are carried out once per year (or once every five years for accumulation surveys) and include land surface surveys (vegetation, rare species), surveys of forest conditions (plant species, number of trees, animal damage, etc.), and accumulation surveys (diameters at chest height, tree height, amount of growth). In July 2019 at Tashiro Forest in Fukushima Prefecture, which has been designated as a special conservation forest, we carried out a patrol as part of a festival wishing for a safe mountaineering season. This provided information that deer populations in the high moors near the top of the mountain are growing, so we will continue monitoring this trend for any impact on ecosystems. If a rare species is discovered, particularly rare vegetation, we take steps such as marking the relevant area and ensuring it is excluded from forestry operations. Also, we recognize the possibility that forestry operations can have an environmental impact on a broad area around the forest so when carrying out forestry operations at Mitsui’s Forests, such as regeneration felling, thinning, and establishing roads, we always carry out a site survey beforehand based on a checklist of 22 items, including soil conditions, surface vegetation, forest conditions, and the situation regarding the surrounding area. We then revise the forestry operation plan based on the results of this survey and if necessary, change or cancel the plan. Within three months of carrying out work, we make sure to carry out a follow-up survey to confirm that the forestry operations were carried out properly with the aim of minimizing environmental impact and conserving biodiversity.
ESG-Related Risk Management
In conducting business, we have put in place a group-wide system for ensuring that utmost consideration is given to the environment and society in projects at all stages, including at the launch of a new business, during operations, and even during the exit stage. For investment projects considered to be high risk in regard to biodiversity (such as hydroelectric, mining, and shipping projects), we carry out ESG risk assessments that put a particular focus on biodiversity and then implement improvement plans if necessary.
Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund Structure
We support various activities and researches that contribute to solving global environmental issues with the aim of realizing a sustainable society in which the economy and environment are in harmony. Since 2005, we have supported a wide range of projects that contribute to solutions to worldwide environmental issues and the building of a sustainable society through the Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund. For more details about the fund, please use the following link.
Collaborating with Stakeholders
Participation in Initiatives
We are promoting and expanding our efforts to address biodiversity through participation in initiatives. Participation in each initiative is decided after confirming that it is consistent with our basic policy and initiatives for biodiversity.
RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a non-profit organization established to promote the sustainable production and utilization of palm oil through the conservation of tropical rain forests and biodiversity. Palm oil production has been linked to the destruction of tropical forests through the development of oil palm plantations, as well as human rights issues. As a business that handles palm oil, Mitsui agrees with the RSPO's philosophy of contributing to sustainability through industry. Since joining the organization as an ordinary member in 2008, we have been collaborating on business-based sustainable procurement initiatives that take into account the conservation of tropical forests and biodiversity, respect for the rights of indigenous and local peoples, and other considerations. A sustainability-focused procurement code, including specific standards for palm oil, has been formulated for the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. In connection with this, Mitsui representatives as members of an oil and fat industry association verified progress on and promoted initiatives related to the RSPO and activities under the Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) systems.
Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®)
The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is an international non-profit organization that promotes management of the world's forests in a way that is environmentally appropriate, economically viable, and socially beneficial, including with regard to respect for human rights. Mitsui has obtained FSC® forest management (FM) certification at all 74 of its forests, which in total approximately 44,000 hectares, while Mitsui Bussan Forest Co., Ltd., a Mitsui subsidiary, has obtained Chain of Custody (CoC) certification for the processing and distribution of cut lumber (FSC®-C031328). As the biggest supplier of Japanese-grown lumber with FSC® certification, Mitsui is helping to promote FSC® in Japan and to discuss and draft the Japanese version of principles, standards, and risk assessments. Mitsui has obtained FSC® certification for its forest resources business as well, and promotes responsible management of forest resources.
Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), Committee on Nature Conservation
Since 2012, a Mitsui employee has been seconded to Keidanren's Committee on Nature Conservation, which is dedicated to conserving biodiversity and protecting the natural environment, to a) support the nature conservation activities of NGOs, b) promote interchange between corporations and NGOs, and c) encourage corporations to act towards nature conservation and biodiversity. We support the Keidanren’s Declaration of Biodiversity and its accompanying Action Policy.
Japan Partnership for Circular Economy
As the trends towards a circular economy have been accelerating globally, the Japan Partnership for Circular Economy has been established by the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Nippon Keidanren Federation, with the purpose of enhancing public-private collaboration and further foster the understanding and support of a wide range of stakeholders, including companies in Japan, for the circular economy. Mitsui has been participating in this partnership since March 2021. Through this partnership, we will help improve the competitiveness of Japanese companies in the field of the circular economy.
Since 2016, we have responded to the questionnaire on timber from CDP Forests, a global disclosure program for corporate information related to forest risks. Based on our response to the questionnaire carried out in 2020, we were granted the rating "Management Level B" in relation to Forests (timber).
Collaborating with NGOs
Conserving the Prey Lang Forest in Cambodia (REDD+*)
Prey Lang, located in the northeast of Cambodia along the west bank of the Mekong River, is the largest tropical lowland evergreen forest in Indochina. It is inhabited by many wild animals, including endangered species, and is also an important source of water for Cambodia. However, illegal logging, along with reclamation of land for farming by local communities, has resulted in progressive deforestation, loss of wildlife habitats, and an increase in GHG emissions that would normally be accumulated in the forests. In partnership with Conservation International, an international NGO, Mitsui has been using the REDD+ mechanism established under the Paris Agreement in cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Environment to reinforce forest patrols to prevent illegal logging in the Prey Lang Forest. Moreover, Mitsui has been engaging in dialogue with local communities to provide support for activities, such as instruction for and promotion of organic farming and rice farming as alternative sources of livelihood that do not rely on logging, with the aim of contributing to forest and biodiversity conservation.
* REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries): A scheme which provides economic incentives such as carbon credits through the mitigation of deforestation and degradation of forests in developing countries.
Collaborating with Local Governments
Project to Restore Endangered Sumatran Tiger Populations in Indonesia
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBS National Park) is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia and it is an important natural habitat for several endangered large mammals, including Sumatran rhinoceroses, Sumatran elephants, and Sumatran tigers. However, many encounters and collisions between residents and Sumatran tigers have been reported and this threat to the livelihoods and safety of residents has led to the killing of tigers, which has become a factor in declining tiger populations. Through a Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund project, we subsidized activities by the World Wide Fund for Nature Japan (WWF Japan) to carry out habitat surveys and camera trap investigations in collaboration with the local government, the national park authorities, and residents of five local villages in order to decrease damage from encounters (all damage, including damage to tigers, damage to people, and damage to agriculture and livestock). The results of these surveys provided information about Sumatran tiger habitats, and has been used as the basis for land usage planning that supports the formation of a community in which local residents and tigers can coexist, while also contributing to a recovery in the tiger population. Currently we are working with the provincial and local governments on activities for monitoring the implementation of land usage plans.
Initiatives as Part of Business Activities
|Objective||Details of the initiative|
|Land-based aquaculture||The amount of salmon being consumed globally is growing year on year and it has become one of the three biggest markets for sea surface farmed fish. However, this has also resulted in issues such as deterioration in water quality due to uneaten feed and excrement and the increased risk of diseases and other occurrences accompanying this, along with the loss of biodiversity due to the significant environmental impact of chemicals to counter disease and parasites. In light of this situation, we have partnered with FRD Japan Co., which possesses advanced biofiltration technologies, to create the world's first land-based aquaculture system which cultivates salmon by recirculating 100% artificial seawater created from tap water. This land-based salmon farming business is minimizing impact on ocean environments and realizing the sustainable production of marine products.|
|Hydroelectric Power Plant Business||The Madeira River is a tributary of the Amazon River and forms part of the Amazon Basin, a region that is known for its rich biodiversity. Located on the Madeira River in northern Brazil, the Jirau Hydroelectric Power Plant has been closely watched by many parties, including local communities and NGOs, because of its location, and every possible step is being taken to ensure that the plant is operated in an environmentally responsible way. As part of an environmental program, we conducted preliminary surveys to identify every possible impact that could affect the local environment and local communities. We then built hospitals, schools, and new housing to improve the local living environment. Other initiatives include measures to protect flora and fauna, such as fish and mammals.|
|Forest Resource Business||Along with business partners, Mitsui is carrying out plantation business in Australia and Chile (the combined project area is approximately 9,000 hectares as of March 31, 2021), with the aim of ensuring the stable supply of wood chips, the raw material for paper. The business has acquired international forest certification from organizations such as FSC® , and manages forest resources responsibly. We also carry out measures in consideration of biodiversity protection.|
|Production and Sale of Rice||Toho Bussan, a subsidiary, supports the production and sale of rice using farming methods that encourage biodiversity, such as the minimum use of agrichemicals and chemical fertilizers.|
|Shipping Business||To prevent negative effects on the ecosystem by marine creatures in ballast water, we actively promote initiatives including installment of ballast water treatment equipment on vessels.|
|Production and Sale of Solar Marine Salt||Shark Bay Salt Pty, a Mitsui subsidiary, owns a solar marine salt field in Shark Bay, Western Australia. It produces and sells some of the world's purest salt while actively working to improve the local ecosystems of Shark Bay, an internationally renowned World Heritage site. With a dedication to maintaining harmony with nature, the company continuously monitors the terrestrial environment and mangrove ecosystem of both the salt field and the surrounding maritime environment, ensuring its operations have no impact on the local ecosystem of the dugong – a species considered highly vulnerable to extinction – and other marine fauna unique to the area. As a result of these efforts, the stability of local wildlife populations has improved. Shark Bay Salt Pty also supports ongoing research activities of dolphins and their ecosystem in the Shark Bay area.|
Consideration for Biodiversity in Our Chilean Salmon Business
At Salmones Multiexport S. A., a Chilean salmon farming, processing and sales company in which we have invested, we are showing consideration to biodiversity by periodically checking cage conditions to prevent damage to local marine ecosystems caused by fish escaping through damaged marine aquaculture nets. As a result, there has not been a single escape in the last few years. We have also installed predator nets in order to protect the fishes and the facility from potential sea lion attacks. Furthermore, we are carrying out feeding activities that fully take into account local ecosystems by introducing a remote-controlled automatic feeding system. This system monitors feeding from below the sea surface using cameras to ensure optimum feeding amounts. We also make efforts to minimize feed waste that is lost or accumulated in the seabed.
Joint Project with JICA/Researchers—Development and Operation of an HAB (Harmful Algal Bloom) Early Warning System
HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms), including red tides, are caused by abnormal concentrations of phytoplankton in seawater. In recent years, the phenomenon has been attributed to environmental pollution and global warming. A record HAB outbreak occurred in Chile in 2016, causing major damage to salmon farming and fisheries, which are among the country’s main industries. Universities and research institutes in Japan and Chile have established a research project in collaboration with government agencies and other organizations in Chile with the aim of developing and operating an HAB early warning system.
Mitsui & Co., which has invested in the salmon farming business in Chile, was also asked to cooperate in this initiative through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) following a request for assistance from the Chilean government. Our role is to consolidate and extend the results of the project in society. In April 2018, we began to collaborate in the project after concluding an agreement with JICA, which was participating on a technical assistance basis. Since then we have supported industry-academia collaboration in Japan and Chile toward the development of an HAB monitoring system.
We believe that this project can contribute to the reduction of damage caused by HABs by issuing warnings based on forecasts from this system, and by sharing information about preventive measures with people working in the fisheries industry. We also believe that it can contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution in local environments, and further regional economic development.
Mitsui's Forests Operational and Management Initiatives
We have acquired international forest certification for Mitsui's forests and the company that manages them. Forest certification comprises forest management certification, which is third-party certification awarded to forests that are being managed appropriately, and chain of custody (CoC) certification, which certifies that timber from certified forests is being handled appropriately all the way through to finished products. Mitsui Bussan Forest Co., Ltd., which manages Mitsui's Forests, engages in sustainable forest management through the formulation and implementation of management plans based on international standards. Logs and other products from these forests are also handled by Mitsui Bussan Forest, which has acquired CoC certification, creating a chain of forest certification. Mitsui Bussan Forest uses a unique "zoning" management method in which areas are divided into categories based on various characteristics, such as topography and tree species, and then managed according to these categories. Categories include "Forests for Regeneration and Harvest," "Naturally Regenerated Forests," and "Biodiversity Conservation Forests" and each type of forest is managed appropriately based on a management policy for each category. "Biodiversity Conservation Forests" in particular have been identified as forests with high biodiversity value, so they are divided into the four categories of "Special Conservation Forests," "Water and Soil Conservation Forests," "Environmental Conservation Forests," and "Cultural Conservation Forests" and management and forestry operations are carried out in a manner that fully takes into account their biodiversity.