We still have ten years to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve these goals, we need a paradigm shift. Japan has developed the Society 5.0 vision, which links these societal challenges and technology. This vision is an enormous opportunity and responsibility for the worldwide PropTech movement, a journey we have to make together.
A NEW ERA
The Japanese emperor Akihito handed over his duties to his son Naruhito on 30 April 2019. On May 1, 2019, a new era ‘Reiwa 1’ has started in Japan. The meaning of Reiwa comes from a poem of the Manyoshu, the oldest collection of Japanese poems dating from 759. According to Shinzō Abe (Prime Minister of Japan), Reiwa should express that Japanese can let their hopes bloom: “Just as the plum blossom blossoms in full glory after endured severe winter cold and thus announces the arrival of spring”.
It was in new spring, in a fair (“Rei”) month. When the air was clear and the wind a gentle (“wa”) breeze. Plum flowers blossomed a beauty’s charming white. And the fragrance of the orchids was their sweet perfume.
Japan is at a major turning point and has many social challenges. Japan is not the only country at a turning point with social challenges such as climate change, urbanisation, ageing, air pollution, food safety/ waste, water quality, inequality, drought, housing shortage, resource scarcity, rising healthcare costs, quality education and sustainable mobility. Sustainable development is the greatest challenge for any country for the future.
SOCIETY 5.0: THE ENVISAGED CHANGE
To meet the challenges of the future with fresh courage, Japan has developed a new vision for a super-smart society, Society 5.0. Japan’s definition is:
“A human-centred society that balances economic progress with solving social problems through a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space.
Integration of physical space and cyberspace
Society 5.0, also called the data-driven society where cyber (virtual) and physical (tangible) have merged, is the society that follows the stages of the hunter-gatherer (Society 1.0), agriculture (Society 2.0), industry (Society 3.0) and information (Society 4.0).
Made by Menno Lammers
Japan wants to create a society in which we can solve various social challenges by integrating the innovations of the fourth industrial (r)evolution (Artificial Intelligence, (Industrial) Internet of Things, robotics) in every sector and every social domain. This (r)evolution goes beyond Industry 4.0, because a complete transformation of our way of life does not only focus on the manufacturing industry. In Society 5.0, all people, things and systems in cyberspace are interconnected and artificial intelligence (AI) provides optimal analyses (that transcend the possibilities of people), which are fed back into physical space. In this way, the society of the future becomes a society in which new values and services are constantly being created, which ensure that humanity adapts better and lives more sustainably. Japan is striving for digital transformation of Japanese society and this has far-reaching consequences.
The social reform in Society 5.0 will lead to a forward-looking society that breaks through the existing sense of stagnation, a society in which people have mutual respect for each other, that transcends generations and a society in which everyone can lead an active and pleasant life. Because Society 5.0 is aimed at tackling social challenges and achieving a sustainable, inclusive, people-oriented society, the Japanese government and Keidanren (the Japanese Business Federation) conclude that this goes hand in hand with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Keidanren even revised its Charter of Corporate Behavior in November 2017 and calls on the member companies to ‘proactively realise the SDGs through the realisation of Society 5.0’.
SDGS AND PROPTECH
Japan is not unique in this, the movement towards a Society 5.0 is becoming increasingly evident internationally. For decades, most (real estate) companies have focused their strategies on maximising shareholder value. More and more leaders are reconsidering this role of the business community. The pressure from stakeholders to play a more prominent role in tackling social issues (SDGs) such as economic inclusion and climate change is increasing.
This social pressure calls for purpose-driven organisations instead of shareholder value-driven organisations. This shift is in line with trend 6 of the article ’10 trends that will change the real estate sector in 2019′. In addition, various media have written about this shift (New York Times of 19/08/’19, Nu.nl of 20/08/’19, Financieel Dagblad of 10/08/’19 and NRC of 16/08/’19). Multinationals such as AkzoNobel, DSM, Philips and Unilever are setting the tone and Dutch pension funds operators APG and PGGM have now developed criteria to determine whether a company’s products and services contribute to the SDGs. Real estate companies such as Bouwinvest, Syntrus Achmea Real Estate & Finance and a.s.r., Ballast Nedam, Edge Technologies, Heimstaden and ISS have embraced the SDGs. A positive development.
Over the past three years, the PropTech movement has grown and the real estate sector has become indispensable. Meanwhile, there are many young PropTech solutions that contribute to the development towards a Society 5.0. A good example of Dutch soil is the drone inspection of homes (Octo + Aeroscan in cooperation with various housing corporations). Other interesting PropTech companies of Dutch origin are Planalogic (SDG9), Healthy Workers (SDG3), Physee (SDG7), Madaster (SDG12), Chainels (SDG11), Studio RAP (SDG9), Sustainer homes (SDG11). Internationally, of course, there are also good Society 5.0 companies such as the smart waste management company Sensoneo (SDG11), Kateraa (SDG12), AskPorter (SDG8), Uhooair (SDG3). The number of super-smart and sustainable PropTech solutions is increasing day by day.
THE KEY TO TRANSFORMATION
Worldwide, the PropTech movement must work towards an inclusive, sustainable, safe, reliable and innovative living environment with the help of technological applications. The real estate sector must be fully aware that their efforts contribute to the realisation of a sustainable society. In doing so, it is assuming its social responsibility. In addition, real estate companies also play an important role in stimulating behavioural changes in the stakeholder ecosystem. By working together, we create Society 5.0, which also enables us to achieve the SDG objectives.
The key lies in a simultaneous transformation, both individual and institutional. The biggest obstacle is our tendency, as a leader, to say: “Yes, that’s where the problem lies and the shift we need. If only others were to change the way they think and behave, we would make more progress”. This shows the challenge that each individual company has to face in order to achieve a new balance in economic interests and social balance.
PROPTECHNL AND SOCIETY 5.0
Since the official launch of PropTechNL, SDGs, real estate and technology has formed the basis. It is PropTechNL’s mission to create ‘Future-proof Environments for Everyone’. PropTechNL is the PropTech Leadership Platform that enables ambitious leaders to create future-proof environments for everyone. Together we make a life-changing journey that is good for the world, the company, the community and as a person. During this journey, we enable leaders to take their organizations to the next level, in line with economic, social, environmental and digital ambitions. With a unique PropTech Program 2020 (and beyond) we allow leaders to look at themselves, the organization and the environment in a progressive way to create future-proof environments for everyone together. In 2020 we will continue to shape our Society 5.0:
Stimulating human innovation potential maximally through thematic activities – via LIVE and SHAPERS – in which the SDGs, the built environment and technology are central;
Together with partners – through EXPLORERS and TRANSFORMERS – to create educational environments, so that we can measure the results and learn lessons;
Our journey in 2020 and beyond
The social reform in Society 5.0 will lead to a forward-looking society that breaks through the existing sense of stagnation, a society in which people have mutual respect for each other, that transcends generations and a society in which everyone can lead an active and pleasant life. Because Society 5.0 is aimed at a life-changing journey that is good for the world, the company, the community and as a person. During this journey, we enable leaders to take their organizations to the next level, in line with economic, social, environmental and digital ambitions. With a unique PropTech Program 2020 (and beyond) we allow leaders to look at themselves, the organization and the environment in a progressive way to create future-proof environments for everyone together. In 2020 we will continue to shape our Society 5.0: