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Here’s how Yokohama City supports companies acting sustainably and why it keeps winning awards for it

by | Nov 8, 2023

At an event held on October 25, 2023 in the city of Suwon, South Korea, the CityNet UN ESCAP SDG City Awards ceremony was held, recognizing four cities around the world who have been creating innovative programs to support sustainability. The city of Yokohama, Japan, took the Urban Finance Award for its Y-SDGs certification system.


As the world faces the global climate crisis and its effects, increasing sustainability and decreasing carbon emissions has become more urgent than ever, especially for businesses. Companies around the world are under pressure to adapt to new targets for sustainability, like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the UN. However, it has proven difficult for some companies to get on board with meaningful sustainable practice. To help support the companies that are making real effort to help protect our planet and climate, the City of Yokohama, Japan has emerged as a leader among eco-friendly cities with its innovative Yokohama City SDGs Certification System (Y-SDGs).


The Y-SDGs system has been designed to specifically aid small and medium-sized enterprises and organizations dedicated to promoting the SDGs, allowing them to apply for a certification verifying their sustainable approaches. Its primary objective is to facilitate a transition toward sustainable management practices and operations for businesses, thereby enabling the expansion of new customer bases and business partnerships. Moreover, the Y-SDG certifications play a pivotal role for investors and financial institutions in making crucial decisions related to investment and loans, integrating key Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) assessment factors.


The Y-SDGs certification process involves a comprehensive evaluation across four key areas: Environment, Social, Governance, and Local impact, encompassing a total of 30 criteria. Certification is conferred in three distinct categories based on the degree of commitment demonstrated in each evaluation criterion—Supreme, Superior, and Standard. Validity of the certification extends for a period of two years, with applications being accepted quarterly. The evaluation process is overseen by the Yokohama SDGs Design Center, and the certification is authorized by the Mayor of Yokohama.


This groundbreaking initiative has garnered significant attention, propelling Yokohama City to win prestigious accolades such as the recent CityNet-UN ESCAP SDG City Award. The Y-SDGs system’s trailblazing approach in fostering sustainable practices within the business community has been recognized on an international stage, emphasizing its pivotal role in promoting the UN’s sustainable development agenda.

Commenting on this achievement, Mayor Yamanaka expressed his deep appreciation for the recognition received by the Y-SDGs certification system. He emphasized the critical need for collective action and highlighted Yokohama’s commitment to hosting the “GREEN×EXPO 2027,” a testament to the city’s vision of a sustainable future in harmony with the environment. He further underscored Yokohama’s enduring dedication to collaboration with international organizations, overseas cities, academic institutions, and corporate entities, aiming to lead the charge in decarbonization efforts and the realization of the SDGs on a global scale.


Alongside Yokohama’s “Urban Finance Award” win in the of the CityNet-UN ESCAP SDG City Awards, the other cities that won awards included Suwon, Korea; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Muntinlupa; and Seoul, Korea. In addition, CityNet listed 10 notable shortlisted cities and their program cases, stating “Given the quality of the submitted best practices, ranking them was not an easy feat. In the end, it turned out to be quite a close race,” which indicates that new sustainability directives and programs are advancing and improving throughout the world. Yokohama is honored to have its program considered among the top city-level initiatives for sustainability in the world, and is dedicated to supporting the SDGs in the future in new and innovative ways.

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