Unilever said its brands will collectively invest €1 billion ($1.12 billion) in a new Climate & Nature Fund over the next 10 years aiming to achieve net zero emissions from all its products by 2039, 11 years ahead of the 2050 Paris Agreement deadline.
It will invest in projects including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation, it added.
The new initiatives will build on the great work that is already underway, such as Ben & Jerry’s initiative to reduce GHG emissions from dairy farms; Seventh Generation advocating for clean energy for all; and Knorr supporting farmers to grow food more sustainably.
Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, said: “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.”
Unilever said it will work jointly with its partners across our value chain, to collectively drive lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. It will also prioritise building partnerships with suppliers who have set and committed to their own science-based targets.
“We will achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. To do this, we will increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies – such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain – accelerating smallholder inclusion and changing our approach to derivates sourcing,” a Unilever statement said.
“We are also committed to working with the industry, NGOs and governments, to look beyond forests, peatlands and tropical rainforests, and to protect other important areas of high conservation value and high carbon stock which are under threat of conversion to arable land, with potentially devastating impact on the natural habitats.”
In addition to continuing to drive sustainable sourcing and an end to deforestation, Unilever is setting out to help regenerate nature: increasing local biodiversity, restoring soil health, and preserving water conservation and access.
Unilever is also introducing a pioneering Regenerative Agriculture Code for all our suppliers. The new code will build on our existing Sustainable Agriculture Code, which is widely recognised as being best-in-class in the industry, and it will include details on farming practices that help rebuild critical resources.
Unilever will also step up direct efforts to preserve water. Already, 40% of the world's population is affected by water scarcity, and more than 2.1 billion people consume unsafe drinking water. The group will implement water stewardship programmes for local communities in 100 locations by 2030.
Unilever will also join the 2030 Water Resources Group, a multi-stakeholder platform hosted by the World Bank, to contribute to transformative change and building resilience in water management in key water-stressed markets, such as India, Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Marc Engel, Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer, said: “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. 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.”
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