Sustainable Development Goals

REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar

The key of all the above is environmental sustainability. The downside of multinational companies as Nestlé might be to loose in terms of quality, since everything is done at a bigger scale, compared to the local producers in town and there is less attention to details. Yet, Nestlé is trying to offset this trend by being sustainable: preserving the biodiversity, improving the environment, managing renewable resources,ending up with zero waste. The company makes an effort in avoiding packaging material and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (that trap heat in the atmosphere). A big portion of the overall investment (almost 270 million euros) goes to replacing old synthetic refrigerants with natural alternatives. It is interesting to point out that Nestlé also uses technology, which is today a good way of reaching people, especially the younger generations. In fact, if the labels on the products are not sufficient, the consumers can access additional information about environmental content and issues on the web.

In order for everything to work, we need people. People to manufacture, people to organize, people to sell and to buy. The human resources interaction has to be effective. In this regard, Nestlé was the first company to adopt the new UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights reporting framework. The company respects human rights, monitors child labour and provides training programmes for its employees. This contributes to make sure that the quality of food and beverages always match the company’s standards because employees feel 100% involved in it.

Nestlé has nearly 335 220 employees and operates in 115 countries in the world, what defines it as a multicultural company. Anyhow, it has managed to create strong corporate culture and values that allow it to be unified. As far as human relations are concerned, the goal is to make sure workers are engaged in the company as well as in its activities. What is more, Nestlé provides for policies supporting women equality of opportunities. In 2015, women held 34% of leadership roles. The company has also characterized itself for job creation for young people across Europe. This programme, called the Nestlé Global Youth Initiative, is on the one hand a way to recruit young figures and prepare them to be Nestlé’s future leaders; on the other, a chance given to graduates for making their transition from education to work smoother.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are similar to Nestlé’s 2015 commitments. In fact, Nestlé is one of the firms that best reacted to the United Nations development agenda, especially in terms of food security and sustainable agriculture.

The company participated actively in giving its opinion on how to support the SDGs and take action accordingly. It was part of the United Nations Private Sector Forum 2015, a conference focusing on the role of the private sector in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: the companies have to create value not only for being profitable but also for improving the development of the society as a whole. And this is exactly what Nestlé does through its “creating shared value strategy”.

More precisely, Nestlé is contributing to achieving the SDGs goals of ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting more sustainable agriculture. The company also engaged itself to support SDGs on water stewardship, sustainable consumption/production and the need for action on climate change.

Here follows the analysis of some examples:

Nestlé is fighting against malnutrition. In particular, micronutrient deficiency is a lack of essential vitamins and minerals required in small amounts by the body for proper growth and development. It is nowadays a common health problem, especially in developing countries. Nestlé’s objectives for the years 2015-2017 are to develop and expand bio-fortified products that would benefit to rural communities, with a special attention to children and women of childbearing age. In 2015, the company delivered192 billion of micronutrient-fortified products. Currently, Nestlé is working on increasing local agriculture production by fortifying crops such as cassava in Côte d’Ivoire and rice in Madagascar.

Nestlé built up what is called the Rural Development Framework (RDF) as a tool to understand farmers’ needs and provide help accordingly. The objectives set for the period 2015-2020 are to align the company’s activities to the local communities priorities as much as possible, improve high quality food availability and make sure to give training support to employees.

The company aims at implementing responsible sourcing within the supply chain. Operations have to respect the Nestlé Supplier Code, reaching at least a 50% of traceability on productsby 2016.Traceability refers to the value chain: from deliverers to importers to processes to storage. In order to make this work, collaboration is key. Plans, unique to each place, are developed, eliminating negative environmental impact, such as deforestation (the goal for 2020 is to achieve zero deforestation), preserving natural capital, like forests and biodiversity, and raising awareness among communities.

The Sustainable Development Goals definitely represent a business opportunity for Nestlé. In today’s world, people’s mentality is constantly changing. We are going towards a society whose keyword is “sustainability”. People care more and more about where the products they consume are coming from and how they are produced. For this reason, businesses have to move hand in hand with these changes. James Gomme, Manager, Social Impact at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development,said “it is important that companies understand the implications of the Sustainable Development Goals across the spectrum of role, opportunity and responsibility”. The collaboration of businesses is intrinsic to the achievement of the UN agenda. Businesses, as engines of economic growth, play a major role in bringing the society forward to sustainable cities, climate-smart agriculture, clean energy, and improved medicine and health care. It is all founded on the private sector working in close partnership with governments and communities.As the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, pointed out, “it is not possible to have a strong, functioning business in a world of increasing inequality, poverty and climate change”.

Nestlé, being a big multinational present worldwide, is an important player the UN is counting on for achieving its goals.

Moreover, SDGs serve as some sort of action plan for the future, both at a national and international level. Nestlé is able to better communicate its strategy to help governments achieve their goals, which improves its reputation. Better reputation means higher chance to have loyal consumers, more collaboration opportunities, higher performance and profits. The alignment with SDGs is also a way of managing risks, anticipating what will happen in the markets and differentiating from competitors.

We are leaving in a world where resources are scarce and the industrial revolution had a negative impact on environment. Populations thought of growing without caring about the long-termconsequences. Nowadays, instead, these consequences are becoming evident, particularly with the development of the consumption society: climate change, deforestation, malnutrition. That is why, dealingwith environmental sustainability should be in companies’ daily agenda, which would be an additional guarantee for the company to keep being profitable. Nestlé has well defined goals in this sense and works effectively together with the United Nations.

@manu_scogna10

 

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