Jun 23, 2020

Unilever increases sustainable efforts with new commitments

Georgia Wilson
3 min
hands holiding a plant in their hand
In a recent announcement made by Unilever, the company has established new commitments to improve the health of the planet...

To improve the health of the planet Unilever has established a new range of measures and commitments - taking even more decisive action - to fight climate change; to protect and regenerate nature; and to preserve resources for future generations.

In order to accelerate this action, Unilever’s brands will be investing US$1.1bn into a dedicated ‘Climate and Nature Fund’ which will be used over the next ten years to undertake meaningful and decisive action against climate change.

The organisation's projects will likely include landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation.

“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. 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,” explained Alan Jope, Unilever CEO.

Science based targets

Currently, Unilever's science based targets are to have no carbon emissions from its operations and to halve its GHG footprint of its products across the value chain by 2030. However, in response to the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, Unilever has added further commitments to achieve net zero emissions for all its products by 2039.

“To achieve this goal 11 years ahead of the 2050 Paris Agreement deadline, we must work jointly with our partners across our value chain, to collectively drive lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. We will, therefore, prioritise building partnerships with our suppliers who have set and committed to their own science-based targets,” commented Unilever, who believes that transparency relating to carbon footprint will be an accelerator in the global race to zero emissions.

“To do this, we will set up a system for our suppliers to declare, on each invoice, the carbon footprint of the goods and services provided; and we will create partnerships with other businesses and organisations to standardise data collection, sharing and communication,” added Unilever, who believes that this must be a collective effort not only from businesses but from governments too.

Protecting nature

“Unilever has been leading the industry on sustainable sourcing practices for over a decade, and we are proud that 89% of our forest-related commodities are certified as sustainably sourced to globally recognised standards,” commented Unilever.

Unilever’s efforts to end deforestation and drive sustainable sourcing includes:

  • Achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023, by increasing traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies, as well as looking beyond forest to protect other important areas of high conservation value
  • Regenerating nature to increase local biodiversity, restore soil health, and preserve water conservation and access by empower a new generation of farmers and smallholders
  • Introducing a pioneering Regenerative Agriculture Code for all our suppliers
  • implementing water stewardship programmes for local communities in 100 locations by 2030
  • Joining the 2030 Water Resources Group
  • Making its product formulations biodegradable by 2030

“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,” added Marc Engel, Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer.

“The planet is in crisis, and we must take decisive action to stop the damage, and to restore its health,” concluded Jope.

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