Though companies have money/people and are interested in contributing to the environment, they do not know what/how to do. On the other hand, environmental non-profitable organizations (NPO) have environmental knowledge and know-how to conserve the environment though they do not have money/people. Then, in 2003, Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) began, as Tokyo Greenship Action (TGA), to create both opportunities in which both companies and environmental NPOs can meet and places where both can contribute to the environmental conservation.
TMG has supplied some of 46 conservation areas in Tokyo for TGA in order to make the natural environment in good condition and enhance environmental awareness. 46 conservation areas have been designated by TMG to preserve the natural areas in Tokyo as precious assets based on the ordinance concerning protection and restoration of the nature in Tokyo.
In TGA, a company (with another company/other companies) makes an agreement with an environmental NPO concerning its roles and then carry out the conservation activity. In the conservation activity, a company/companies are required to pay costs for the activity directly to the environmental NPO. Further, they need to ask their employees and families of employees to participate in the activity and put together them. Basically, each activity is a one-day programme and a company/companies can participate just in one programme.
TMG has annually published a guidebook of TGA for applicants. Currently, 13 areas have been prepared for TGM in the fiscal year 2009. In the guidebook, TMG describes several key issues of the activity in each area such as an environmental NPO in the activity, recommended points, recommended ages and participants, facilities (bathroom), costs and summary of the activity.
The Nobidome Yosui area (Kodaira city) is, for instance, one of the 13 conservation areas. According to the guidebook, an environmental NPO in this activity is Midori Support Hachioji; the recommended point is that participants can directly experience the nature; recommended ages are 6, 7 and above and recommended participants are beginners and families; participants use bathrooms of facilities near the conservation area; the activity costs 250,000 yen; and the activity includes making and putting fences around the area, sanitary cutting and gathering leaves.
Clearly, TGA has merits. For environmental NPOs, they can be supplied with people and money to conserve the nature. In addition, as far as TGM is concerned, the costs for the environmental conservation can be reduced and all the areas of TGA are the areas that TMG has strong interests in conserving. Finally, for a company/companies, they do not need to choose its environmental activities at random, in other words, using financial/human resources for the ‘right’ activities. Because the activities are officially recognized by TMG, it can be said that a company/companies can have an official guarantee that they are voluntarily engaged in environmentally good things.
However, TGA has demerits too. First, a company/companies often carry out conservation activities in areas which are not closely related to them. For instance, Mitsubishi Corporation, a general trading company, in 2008, participated in the conservation activity in Hachioji city (Oya machi), but its employees do not work in Hachioji city but in Chiyoda ward (Marunouchi), probably it taking more than one hour at least from Marunouchi to Oyamachi. If the areas are not closely related to a company/companies, it seems that they may have weak motivations to continue the activities for a long time. Second, because TGM has not sufficiently tried to let people know the conservation activities of a company/companies, it might be doubtful whether they can sustain motivations to continue the activities for a long time. Indeed, it seems that even most people living near the activity areas do not know these activities. For instance, when the author visited the Nobidome Yosui area in 2008, the author found a woody sign mentioning that Fuji Xerox, Tama, participated in the conservation activity in the area. However, it seemed that the woody sign could not be easily found and no walker that the author talked to (12 walkers) knew the conservation activity of Fuji Xerox, Tama.
The basic concept of TGA seems excellent and can create a ‘win-win-win’ situation. However, TGA needs to be more refined in order for TGA substantially contributes to the environmental conservation for a long time. For example, TMG should more actively try to let people know the voluntary activities of a company/companies for the environmental conservation. Although the conservation activities in TGA are voluntary, it might be clear that participants can be proud of doing the activities and have motivations to continue the activities for a long time if their environmental efforts are widely known by TMG. Further, as all the conservation activities in TGA that TMG have prepared are those in suburb areas of Tokyo, it might be necessary for TMG to consider environmental activities in central parts of Tokyo in TGA. In addition, if a company/companies seek to carry out the conservation activities in the areas which are not closely related to them, it might be a good idea that they develop relationships in the areas such as performing environmental education in schools by using their own special knowledge and joining and helping festivals in the areas. The close relationships that a company/companies develop may let them to continuously carry out the conservation activities in the areas.