Why business and sustainability must go hand-in-hand
The journey towards a sustainable future can only succeed with the efforts of global businesses. Companies must be clear in accepting their responsibility and aligning their operations to scientific findings.
Bayer’s economic success has always been driven by the passion of our scientists and the innovative strength of our company. Every day, our 100,000 employees—around 15,000 of them scientists—strive for new solutions for a better life. In today’s context, it is clear that developing solutions for a better life demands more from us – both for a sustainable future and sustainable economic success.
The world population continues to grow. People are growing older and becoming wealthier. Consequently, natural resources are being consumed at an ever-faster rate. Human-induced climate change, biodiversity losses and global inequality must be understood as urgent calls to action. We must succeed in giving more people access to modern medicines and better nutrition, while at the same time limiting global warming and stewarding planetary resources.
Many people around the globe have recognized this reality and proposed geopolitical measures to address it. But in my eyes, realizing global climate goals as outlined in the Paris Agreement must sit at the top of the agenda of the global business community. I don’t know a single business leader who questions the scientific findings behind climate change. However, this conviction demands that we commit ourselves even more resolutely to our shared responsibility.
The Paris Agreement is a pact between states. Yet many major corporations are embedded in international value chains that emit as much CO2 as medium-sized countries. Waiting for the establishment of a national climate policy is not an option. Companies must act not simply according to what governments require from them, but, more fundamentally, according to what is right. Bayer is a leading company in our industries. As such, we can and want to do more. That’s why we have committed to ambitious climate measures, which we are ready to share.
- By 2030, Bayer will be a 100 percent CO2-neutral company. To save our emissions of around 4 million metric tons of CO2, we will invest in energy efficiency and green electricity. And we will systematically offset the remaining emissions whilst preserving biodiversity and creating new sources of income for farmers.
- We will drive innovation that helps farmers who apply our crop protection reduce both CO2 emissions on their fields as well as the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
Global progress has failed to reach enough people
Sustainability is about more than climate action. The United Nations clearly emphasized this in its Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. So far, global progress in these areas has been inadequate and failed to reach enough people, particularly in developing countries. Once again, businesses need to take on a more active role. With our leading position in health and nutrition, we are committed to taking on a leading responsibility.
- There are approximately 550 million smallholder farms around the world. In developing countries, they produce about 80 percent of the available food, but the farmers often suffer themselves from hunger and poverty. By 2030, Bayer will help 100 million smallholder farmers in developing countries to increase their harvests and incomes and improve the local food supply.
- Women play a critical role in the societal progress of developing countries, but today more than 200 million women in low- and middle-income countries are inhibited by their lack of access to modern contraceptives. By 2030, Bayer will provide 100 million women with access to the relevant information and products, thereby improving the health and economic status of women and their families.
- The lack of access to health care is an increasingly global problem. As of today, essential healthcare services are out of reach for at least half of the world’s population. To narrow this gap, Bayer will increase access to our everyday health products for 100 million people worldwide by 2030, in particular micronutrients for pregnant women and children.
Sustainability – a central element of our corporate strategy
From 2020 onwards, Bayer will reaffirm sustainability as a central element of our corporate strategy and business operations – as an integral part of our actions and fundamental to our long-term economic success. Accordingly, we will anchor the fulfillment of our sustainability targets transparently and measurably in the long-term compensation of company management.
In a matter of days, a new decade will be upon us. In meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and combating climate change, the ten years from 2020 to 2030 will be vital, demonstrating whether the global community is able to live up to its responsibility. Our company will play its part.
This article was published on December 10, 2019 by the German newspaper “Handelsblatt”.