Unilever is ramping up its commitment to doing its part in the name of sustainability and conservation. As part of this commitment, the food giant is investing €1 billion ($1.25 billion USD) in a new, dedicated Climate and Nature Fund to make meaningful and decisive action encompassing a variety of projects, including fighting climate change, protecting and regenerating nature, preserving resources, and even achieving Net Zero emissions by 2039.
“While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us. Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity—all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously,” explained Alan Jope, CEO. “In doing so, we must also recognise that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.”
Much of Unilever’s latest commitment includes partnering with like-minded brands and companies that are also doing their part to work alongside the next generation of farmers and smallholders; drive programs to protect and restore forests, soil, and biodiversity; and collaborate with governments and other organizations to improve access to water for all communities. Additional projects the food behemoth is taking on include landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection, and water preservation.
Unilever also plans to overhaul its packaging by making its product formulations biodegradable by 2030. According to a press release, this will help the company drive innovations and solutions while minimizing its impact on water and aquatic ecosystems. On top of this massive undertaking, Unilever is also looking to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023 by increasing traceability and transparency through emerging digital technologies.
“Our collective responsibility in tackling the climate crisis is to drive an absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, not simply focus on offsetting—and we have the scale and determination to make it happen. But this is not enough. If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity, and water ecosystems,” said Marc Engel, Chief Supply Chain Officer. “In most parts of the world, the economic and social inclusion of farmers and smallholders in sustainable agricultural production is the single most important driver of change for halting deforestation, restoring forests, and helping regenerate nature. In the end, they are the stewards of the land. We must, therefore, empower and work with a new generation of farmers and smallholders in order to make a step change in regenerating nature.”
Jope concluded, “The planet is in crisis, and we must take decisive action to stop the damage, and to restore its health. Last year, we set out a plan to tackle perhaps the most visible environmental issue we have in the consumer goods industry: plastic packaging. We set ourselves new and stretching targets that include halving our use of virgin plastic, and helping collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell. While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life—in the sourcing of materials—as well as in their manufacture and transport. We will reduce the impact that our products and our operations have on the environment, and we will do our part to bring the planet back to health.”
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