Risk Management

Risk Management Framework

In order to reinforce its framework for managing business risks for the entire Group, Sumitomo Forestry has created the Risk Management Basic Regulations and has appointed the President of Sumitomo Forestry as the highest authority on risk management for the Sumitomo Forestry Group, Executive Officers in charge of Head Office Department and each Division have been appointed authorities on risk management of their department, and general managers have been appointed to promote risk management. The Regulation encompasses risks in environmental, social, and governance aspects, comprehensively.

The Risk Management Committee is chaired by the President and CEO and consists of executive officers and general managers in charge of the Corporate Planning Department, Personnel Department, Legal Department, IT Solutions Department and Sustainability Department, along with divisional managers of each division and the General Manager of the General Administration Department. The committee meets once every quarter. The Committee selects priority management risks after analyzing and evaluating the risks identified from each department, and prioritizes monitoring the progress of responses to priority management risks of particularly high importance. A Compliance Subcommittee and a Business Continuity Management (BCM) Subcommittee have also been established under the command of the Risk Management Committee to carry out specific activities for increasing effectiveness of responses to compliance and business interruption risks regarded as cross-sectional risks affecting the Group. The Board of Directors receives reports on these activities while management has put in place a system to reflect this in business execution, such as the implementation of management reviews. In fiscal 2023, Risk Management Committee was held four times, Compliance Subcommittee was held twice, BCM Subcommittee was held twice, and reports to Board of Directors were made four times respectively.

We keep developing specific activities to improve the effectiveness in our response to environmental, social, and governance risks and emerging risks described in Sumitomo Forestry Group Code of Conduct. With respect to climate change, for example, international trends are considered together with the business condition of each Division in order to evaluate risks and opportunities that are thought to have a severe financial impact at the corporate and divisional levels. Since fiscal 2019, each Division joined together in conducting TCFD-based scenario analyses.

The Sustainability Committee discusses items determined through this process to be priority risks in the medium to long term, reports to the Board of Directors about its activities in the same way as the Risk Management Committee, and reflects this into business execution.

Project Monitoring Committee

In 2023, we established the Project Monitoring Committee to monitor all risks related to new business projects, product development, and other projects, from internal approval of project implementation to the start of business. The department in charge of a project reports to the Project Monitoring Committee on the progress of the project and possible risks, and each member evaluates the risks. In addition, the Committee Secretariat reports the proceedings of meetings to the President, and the President instructs the Secretariat to (1) provide feedback to the department in charge of instructions and findings, (2) report to the President from the department in charge, and (3) report to the Executive Committee, depending on the status of the matter.

Risk Management Structure of the Sumitomo Forestry Group

Risk Management Structure of the Sumitomo Forestry Group

Risks in Operations

The following risks have been identified in operations as stated on the Security Reports.

  1. Risks related to trends in housing and real estate markets worldwide
  2. Risks related to procurement and sales of raw materials, timber and building materials
  3. Risks related to declining number of skilled construction workers in Japan
  4. Legal and regulatory risks
  5. Foreign exchange risks
  6. Quality assurance risks
  7. Credit facility risks of business partners
  8. Overseas business risks
  9. Risks of mountain forests and plantation forest operation locations held and managed
  10. Risks involving information security
  11. Risks in accounting retirement benefits
  12. Risks regarding the environment including climate change as well as loss of nature and biodiversity, etc.
  13. Risks of emergency situations caused by natural disasters, etc.

Reports in detail mainly on the following four individual risks.

Risks Associated with Illegal Logging and Conversion Timber

Illegal logging is recognized as a crucial issue globally, and progress is being made to strengthen related laws and regulations in a number of countries and regions. Japan has announced the Act on Promotion of Use and Distribution of Legally-Harvested Wood and Wood Products (The Clean Wood Act) on May 20, 2016, which was enacted on May 20, 2017. Addressing stronger control of illegally harvested wood not only responds to the requirements of the world but it is also extremely important for the Sumitomo Forestry Group to continue businesses sustainably. Fiscal 2020 results of departments and affiliated companies registered by the Sumitomo Forestry Group have been reported to each registration agency certified by the Japanese government. In addition to legality of the procured timber and wood products, sustainability of forests that produce wood has been in question recently. "Conversion timber" is timber generated during the conversion of natural forest areas to non-forest use (such as oil palm plantation). While the conversion to farm land is often discussed from the commodity side (oil palm, soy, rubber and cattle), conversion timber now poses sustainability risks to forestry industry.

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Impact on the Sumitomo Forestry Group

The Sumitomo Forestry Group could jeopardize its own businesses that handle wood resources if it neglected its duty and dealt in illegally logged timber. Moreover, these actions would harm the image of the Company and could directly damage our business performance such as compensation for damage and turnover.

Risk Countermeasures

The Sumitomo Forestry Group has been committed to responsible wood procurement, pioneering legislation in Japan and having established the Timber Procurement Philosophy and Policy in 2005, to bring contributions to a sustainable society via business activities of “wood” -a renewable resource. In 2015, Timber Procurement Philosophy and Policy was extended beyond wood and became subject to procurement of building materials, raw materials of products, and end products, and reestablished as Sumitomo Forestry Group Procurement Policy. We have also been engaged in responsible wood procurement activities since 2018, formulating the Timber Procurement Management Regulations and Timber Procurement Due Diligence Manual among other measures. Sumitomo Forestry has drafted and is executing an action plan to accomplish by the end of fiscal 2021 founded in the fiscal 2019 actions for strengthening due diligence through the Timber Procurement Committee and diffusing the use of sustainable forests and wood to promote the procurement of timber from more sustainable forests.

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Risks Associated with Carbon Accounting on Biomass Fuel

Biomass power generation using wood chips and wood pellets as fuel has been considered as "carbon neutral" and as clean energy. However, since burning wood fuel generates methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), making it not "GHG neutral," it is only required to report emissions other than CO2. However, SBT initiative announced its updated criteria in April 2021;

Bioenergy accounting:
Direct emissions from the combustion of biomass and biofuels, as well as GHG removals associated with bioenergy feedstock1, must be included alongside the company's inventory and must be included in the target boundary when setting a science-based target and when reporting progress against that target. If biogenic emissions from biomass and biofuels are considered climate neutral, the Company must provide justification of the underlying assumptions. Emission of N2O and CH4 by bioenergy raw materials must also be included in the Company inventory and targeted range.

Nevertheless, detailed information is not yet available from the initiative, nor the guidance on what could be the justification for biomass to be considered climate neutral.

Impact on the Sumitomo Forestry Group

Sumitomo Forestry operates five wood biomass power generation plants in Japan and is currently planning to add another in 2023, which would generate total of 251.6MW.

If it is required to add CO2 emissions to currently reported methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from the biomass power generation operation, Sumitomo Forestry Group's SBT emission reduction target would be extremely challenging.

Climate-related regulation changes in each regions/countries are unpredictable and may cause the Company additional payment if carbon pricing incurs additional tax payment. Sumitomo Forestry's corporate brand image of being an environmentally friendly company may also be negatively impacted.

Risk Countermeasures

Sumitomo Forestry continues to strive to reduce carbon emissions based on its Mid-term Sustainable Targets for each business units. Also, Sumitomo Forestry is becoming more active in lobbying through the Forest Solution Group of the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) and CDP Japan Club, where Sumitomo Forestry serves as member.

Risk Associated to Emerging ESG Mandatory Disclosures

In June 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) released its inaugural standards which set out requirements for sustainability-related (IFRS S1) and climate-related (IFRS S2) financial disclosures (ISSB Standards) for business entities. The new standards consolidate the requirements of multiple other leading sustainability reporting frameworks and is expected to be mandated by regulatory authorities. While it is a welcoming trend for business in a long run with a globally unified standard to report against and lowering cost of sustainability disclosure, transitional period poses a great risk for companies to adopt to new mandates coming into forces on a different time scale in each country.

The Group has its operations in, sources from and sell to about thirty countries, and each jurisdictional decision would affect the Group. These sustainability disclosure requirement trends coincide our rapid growth in overseas operations through mergers and acquisitions and collecting and managing especially social aspects of non-financial data and measures poses great challenges to the Group.

Impact on the Sumitomo Forestry Group

Sumitomo Forestry, headquartered in Japan and listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Prime Market, is required to follow the regulations by the Financial Agency of Japan, which plans to adopt the ISSB standards in 2025. In addition to Japan, the Group has its operations in, sources from and sell to about thirty countries, and each jurisdictional decision would affect the Group. These sustainability disclosure requirement trends coincide our rapid growth in overseas operations through merges and acquisitions and collecting and managing especially social aspects of non-financial data and measures poses challenges to the Group.
While Scope 3 disclosure has already been realized and been updated, among already known requirements, below are time consuming and cost rising items we need to adopt; simultaneous reporting with the financial statement, connected information to sustainability-related risks and opportunities linking to the financial reporting information, and potentially broader third-party assurance to name a few. With IFRS intention to expand the disclosure content, biodiversity, human rights in supply chain and human capital development are in scope for the future requirements. Failing to meet these disclosure requirements or disclosing incorrect information would risk our access to market, which jeopardizes the fundraising.

Risk Countermeasures

Sumitomo Forestry Group has been conducting Internal Sustainability Survey since 2012 to collect non-financial data, review sustainability readiness of each Group entity and to implement any necessary measures to mitigate risks. Building up on these initiatives, we plan to incorporate necessary measures in the upcoming mid-term sustainability target.

New Business Plan Risk Assessment

All new business and project plans that are brought for deliberation to the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, which is the advisory body to the president, Sumitomo Forestry conducts risk assessment for the following categories, considering the entire supply chain. If a risk is confirmed, a report is made regarding the risk and measures to deal with it, which is used to determine implementation. In addition, the same risk assessment is recommended for new business projects that are not brought for deliberation to these meetings because they can be implemented under the jurisdiction of the respective Division or affiliated company. In fiscal year 2023, 17 new businesses and projects were discussed. With regard to GHG emission risks in particular, we plan to add items to the checklist to understand specific figures for the purpose of reducing emissions.

Environmental Aspects
  1. Greenhouse Gases
  2. Biodiversity Conservation (Including Verification of Protected Regions)
  3. Waste
  4. Water Resources
  5. Soil Contamination
  6. Noise
  7. Others
Social Aspects
  1. Relationships with Companies We Do Business With
  2. Anti-Corruption in All Its Forms, Including Extortion and Bribery.
  3. Human Rights Considerations for Workers and Other Stakeholders
  4. Promotion of Employee Diversity
  5. Prohibition of Forced Labor and Child Labor
  6. Appropriate Working Hours and Wages
  7. Occupational Health and Safety
  8. Impact on Local Communities (Including Concern for Local Residents and Administrations, Industry Organizations, NPOs, Municipal Citizens' Groups and Indigenous People)
Legal and Regulatory Compliance -
Overall Recognition of Indications from External Organization About Business Models, Products, Services and the Related Business Entities

Understanding and Assessing Housing and Real Estate Development Risks

Properly understanding the geological and geographical risks unique to each property is vital in the development of housing and real estate. The Sumitomo Forestry Group has put in place the necessary systems to verify whether there are any issues through careful surveys at the assessment stage of development in addition to other multistage checks done before determining how to implement a project.

In overseas development, for example, we first select the land to develop and then outsource soil and environmental surveys to external research firms to fully understand the risks from an objective standpoint. We not only ask local affiliated companies to give their input on risks but the Sumitomo Forestry head office also conducts property inspections and environmental and social impact studies using its own sustainability risk assessment sheet for projects larger than a certain scale. Management also provides feedback through meetings at the Sumitomo Forestry head office to analyze risks from diverse multistage perspectives. We only engage in projects determined to be acceptable through this process.

Construction also comes with the risk of occupational accidents during the construction phase. Sumitomo Forestry complies with occupational health and safety laws and works to prevent occupational accidents at local affiliated companies and also puts in place systems to immediately report any accident that occurs to the headquarters so it can quickly understand what happened as well as plan and execute measures to prevent recurrence.

Risk Education

We not only provide risk management and compliance training when Executive Officers and employees join the Company but also conduct e-learning for all Group Executive Officers and employees every year to enhance the risk sensitivity of Sumitomo Forestry Group Executive Officers and solidify it in our corporate culture.

In addition, we are periodically conducting training on corporate law and corporate governance, including those of Sumitomo Forestry's independent Board of Directors and external statutory auditors.

Rapidly Comprehending and Dealing with Risks

The Sumitomo Forestry Group operates Two-hour Rule reporting system designed to quickly and accurately communicate information to management in the event of an emergency situation that may have a grave impact on company management. In addition to the regular reporting line, it utilizes communication via the Division responsible for risk management. Through this system, management can take the best decision speedily, ensuring an initial response which avoids loss and controls the situation. Moreover, it serves a role in collecting and accumulating reported cases and assists in improved business practice and prevention of recurrence.

At our overseas offices, too, there are examples of employees providing feedback with regard to the details of risk assessments. For example, there are offices that have introduced the system that allows supervisors to install safety management applications on their mobile phones and immediately report risks and incidents when they occur, and that operate an incentive system for suggestions upon discovery of an event that is one step away from a serious accident (near-miss). Through this initiative, we are raising awareness among employees to make it easier to discover risks.

Furthermore, the structure is organized so that, by sharing information with the public relations departments, important situations are disclosed to stakeholders properly and in a timely manner.

Two-Hour Rule and Use of Risk Information

Two-Hour Rule and Use of Risk Information
Sustainability Report
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