People Who Only Repair the Surface of Sustainability … What Can Space Business Do? [WARP STATION Conference Vol.1 Report ①]
We will deliver a digest of the conference event “WARP STATION Conference Vol.1” held on October 8th.
The theme of Session 1 is “Future Contribution of the Space Industry to the Sustainability of Global Society”. There are three panelists who are active as investors, journalists, and entrepreneurs.
We had a brainstorming discussion of how the space industry can contribute to global sustainability. And what came to light was not the root of the problem, but the attitude of the Japanese people who tried to scoop up and repair only the supernatant.
Where is the buzzwordized “sustainability” going?
Six years have passed since the SDGs were adopted. Efforts related to “sustainability” are expanding in the business arena to achieve the goal of 2030. On the other hand, “I think the value and content that ate the core have not yet penetrated,” said Warpspace CEO Tsunemachi, who is in charge of the moderator of this session, to the panelists.
Ms.Yuka Tanimoto, editor-in-chief of the Web version of “Forbes Japan”, interviewed that SDGs and ESG are buzzwords, and as a result, there are a certain number of managers who regard sustainability as one of their image strategies. I revealed that I had felt it.
“Thinking about so-called nature to stakeholders means that even if you make an investment, you don’t know if you will be able to recover it in 100 years. It seems that it depends on whether you can make such a long-term decision. “ (Ms. Tanimoto)
Next, Ms.Yumiko Murakami, a general partner of ESG-focused venture capital MPower Partners, points out that the ambiguous evaluation axis in addition to the time axis may be a barrier to promoting sustainability.
“It’s still difficult to quantify what is decades ahead and put it into economic value. Furthermore, nowadays, there are a lot of” rulers “to measure ESG, and the evaluation axis differs from person to person. This situation is what makes it easier to cause a “green wash” that has been repaired only on the upper side. “(Ms. Murakami)
Ms. Murakami has a background of serving as the director of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Tokyo Center after being in charge of development assistance, peaceful use of remote sensing technology, and human rights protection in the United Nations, and is familiar with sustainability and ESG.
Ms. Murakami explains that the situation surrounding sustainability is changing.
In the last few years, the number of disasters caused by extreme weather has increased, and the effects of climate change have become more common. As the crisis approaches, it is becoming more realistic to evaluate it as an economic value. Furthermore, in connection with the International Climate Change Summit to be held in November, it seems that the movement to formulate ESG evaluation criteria is about to begin in earnest.
On the other hand, the moderator, Tsunemachi, said that the time axis perspective is a barrier to investment, which may also be common to the space business.
“Until 10 years ago, the space business was thought to be “100 years from now” but now, five to ten years later, it is becoming apparent that the business is likely to be realized. I think that movements similar to sustainability and ESG are beginning to occur.” (Tsunemachi)
Transition from an entertainment company to a company that “contributes to the sustainable development of humankind”
In order to evaluate a business and make an investment decision, the current challenges still need to be visible. Ms. Rena Okajima, President and CEO of ALE, is one of the parties working on visualization of issues.
ALE is a start-up company that has received a lot of attention for its “artificial shooting star” that reproduces shooting stars by emitting light particles from artificial satellites, but it is not the only business that it is engaged in.
Under the mission of “connecting science to society and making space a cultural area,” we started a project to develop a meteorological satellite that improves the accuracy of weather forecasts in preparation for frequent disasters in collaboration with NTT, RIKEN, and the National Astronomical Observatory. Ms. Okajima explained the reason for tackling her environmental problems.
“The global environment is so intertwined that it can be said that it is a complex system. For example, a technology called “climate engineering” that artificially lowers the temperature of the earth’s surface is attracting attention, but what kind of side effects do it have? We don’t know at all, so it’s dangerous to implement it at this stage. We have to clarify it. I think it is important to acquire data and improve the accuracy of prediction in approaching environmental problems.” (Ms. Okajima)
It is difficult for a start-up company to achieve the grand goal of elucidating the mechanism of the global environment. Moderator Tsunemachi said that ALE is working with companies and research institutes because it has a well-shared vision.
However, sharing this vision is not an easy task. Ms. Okajima also revealed that she had failed in team building at ALE.
“In the beginning, there were some members who joined ALE because they wanted to do a glittering entertainment called” artificial shooting star “, but what we really wanted to do was” contribute to the sustainable development of humankind. “By clarifying that and hiring members who sympathize with the mission and vision, we have become a good team that does not shake.”(Ms. Okajima)
In industries and industries that have a long time span to commercialization, creating an organization that allows teams to move in the same direction is also an issue.
The leader required for next-generation businesses is the shepherd type
In the second half of the session, the topic shifted to sustainability from a more microscopic perspective, such as organizational building and team building.
It is said that 90% of people working in the space industry are men. In the space business, there are many interactions with overseas space agencies and companies, various technologies are required for spacecraft development, and human resources who are good at knowledge in each field such as business development and international coordination. However, Tsunemachi argued to the panelists that the human resources involved in the Japanese space industry might be biased.
In response, MPower Partners Ms.Murakami pointed out that it is important to consider the essence of diversity.
“When talking about diversity, the gender ratio is often noticed because it’s easy to understand, but the numbers themselves don’t mean much. The important thing is” diversity of thought. Even if all the attendees at the meeting are men, if there are people with different backgrounds and values, it is diversity. “(Ms. Murakami)
In addition, Ms. Murakami says that the type of leader required is changing.
“When I studied leadership theory at a business school more than 20 years ago, the case studies of leaders with strong charisma were the main focus, but now the most promising leaders are shepherd-type leaders. Instead of standing in front, they somehow guide various types of sheep such as white, black, and brown from behind. There are increasing cases where leaders who listen to the opinions of members well have been able to generate innovative ideas. “(Ms. Murakami)
In a world of high uncertainty, it is easier to exert power in a team that has an environment in which diverse members can express their opinions, rather than proceeding with the thoughts of one person.
To that end, it is important that the issues are visualized as data, said Moderator Tsunemachi.
“This can be said not only for the space industry but for Deep Tech as a whole, but it is not because of who said it or because it was an idea that came up with it. But after the solid data that serves as evidence visualizes the situation. We need to move toward a vision of what we will do. ” (Tsunemachi)
In addition, Ms. Tanimoto, editor-in-chief of the Web version of “Forbes Japan”, says that while promoting diversity, it is necessary to have a belief to lean on.
“I think that averaging is the worst pattern. Good and evil will change depending on the time and place, but if we can return to our aesthetic sense that never changes, it will move in the right direction. Isn’t it? “(Ms. Tanimoto)
In Session 1, Ms.Yumiko Murakami of MPower Partners, Ms.Yuka Tanimoto, Editor-in-Chief of “Forbes Japan” Web version, and Ms.Reina Okajima, President of ALE, was on stage to make decisions that are required in the present age with high uncertainty. We discussed how it should be. Global information visualized by earth observation data should be a new source of climate change countermeasures and business decision-making.
Session 2 discussed social infrastructure monitoring, and Session 3 discussed agriculture on more specific themes. Please see here as well.