Adapted from remarks delivered at the Kikkoman conference, “The Economics of Green: Finding a Balance between Economic Growth and the Environment,” hosted in honor of the 35th anniversary of Kikkoman’s opening of its plant in Walworth, Wisc. — the first manufacturing plant of a Japanese company in the United States.
The challenges of climate change have inspired myriad debates about how best to arrive at an appropriate solution. Within these debates, many wonder: Who is ideally suited to spearhead the charge?
We’ve already seen that, despite public policy foot-dragging, the business community has played a very constructive role in working to solve the problems caused by global climate change. And I believe that in the future, it should be business leaders who shape the proposals currently debated in the political process.
The demands of globalization have long motivated the business community to develop creative solutions to multifaceted problems.
In 1972, Yuzaburo Mogi ’61, chairman and CEO of Kikkoman Corporation, made Kikkoman the first Japanese company to open a manufacturing plant in the United States, an accomplishment that has proven its worth by withstanding the test of time.
Kikkoman has maintained positive relationships with the surrounding community in Wisconsin, and paved the way for other foreign transplants.
Today, the company is a model of corporate citizenship at every level — from the local to the global.
Mogi recently announced that Kikkoman will sponsor an Environmental Studies Scholarship in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and this fall will open a research and development laboratory in Madison’s University Research Park.
This is the kind of active partnering and collaboration that will be the key to delivering workable and sustainable answers to the potentially crippling environmental challenges we face.
As we move forward, the United States should lead and take action early in the mission of environmental stewardship, while encouraging and regularly reviewing the actions of other key nations. The work of the global community needs to be coordinated to address the seriousness of the problem — and it is possible to do this while protecting U.S. economic interests.