This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Sustainable Brands on the power of purpose in driving business success. The Huffington Post is a media partner for SB’16 San Diego, Sustainable Brands’ flagship conference — June 6th-9th.
Fifteen years ago, global cleantech company Novozymes signed onto the UN Global Compact — a pledge by businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. We joined because we believed a revolution would follow — turning corporations into social and environmental advocates and drivers of sustainable improvements. Today, that way of thinking and acting is becoming the way global leaders do business.
With more than 80 percent of S&P 500 companies now issuing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability report (according to the Governance & Accountability Institute), sustainability is becoming business mainstream. Companies are going beyond just reporting their financial, social and environmental results. They are now integrating sustainability practices into their operations. This transition to purpose-driven business brings solid results for companies such as Novozymes. In fact, 2015 Morgan Stanley research found that “…firms that consistently factor sustainability into their business strategy can fare better; with positive effects both on a firm’s profitability and stock price performance...” — proof that by doing good, businesses can do well.
With all the global challenges today, we need more companies to rethink tomorrow. How can they better drive their business using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guide? What impacts will this have on society and their bottom line? The answer is the sweet spot where people, planet and profit interconnect and deliver solutions for better lives in a growing world.
In order to integrate the SDGs into our business we use them to assess our innovation pipeline and determine which new solutions have the most promise to bring positive impact to the world. Whether it’s saving energy in the production of your favorite brew, reducing the use of chemicals to make your daughter’s Justin Bieber concert T-shirt or bringing cleaner-burning biofuels to a service station near you, we’re developing ways to implement more sustainable manufacturing of your favorite products. Many of these initiatives are highlighted at the Business for 2030 website, which showcases business contributions to sustainable development through the prism of the SDGs. Among the 17 SDGs, three in particular provide opportunities that biotechnology can help address:
Eliminating billions of tons of CO2
Wherever we can modify a conventional process with a biological one it results in a significant positive impact to the environment. By using specific enzymes in your low temperature laundry detergent for example, we can reduce chemical consumption, energy, water and CO2 emissions, compared with conventional technologies. The documented environmental benefits of biological technologies are big. In 2015 alone, Novozymes’ customers avoided 60 million tons of CO2 emissions by applying our products — equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road annually. Moreover, if all existing biotechnology were applied to industry today around the world, we could save 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions. But that is just the beginning. Our only limitation is the creativity of scientists and engineers to discover new ways in which these solutions can make a real difference.
Ensuring sustainable energy for all
Novozymes is working with partners towards the shared goal of ensuring universal worldwide access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. Through the World Bank and U.N.-led initiative Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) High Impact Opportunity on Sustainable Bioenergy, we aim to double sustainable bioenergy to 30 percent of the global energy mix by 2030. More than 50 developing countries are engaged with more than $50 billion mobilized from the private sector toward achieving these goals. Sustainable bioenergy holds vast opportunities to cut CO2 emissions, reduce dependency on oil, increase energy security, create “green” jobs, and enable emerging economies to address their growing energy needs.
Supporting sustainable food production
Feeding a growing world of nine billion people may prove to be the ultimate challenge. In order to meet this demand, farmers will need multiple technology tools in their toolbox. Novozymes’ BioAgriculture technology harnesses naturally occurring microbes in the soil to help farmers increase crop yields while reducing use of fertilizer and pesticides. Similarly, our animal feed microbes and enzymes help improve animal digestion and nutrition resulting in higher farm productivity, reduced antibiotic usage and lower environmental impact. We’ll need to use more sustainable agriculture globally to continue to deliver the safe, affordable food many of us enjoy today.
The world now has a plan for its development — the SDGs — agreed upon by 193 countries in September 2015. This is a great gift to business because they can only be achieved through private sector solutions. The SDGs are a powerful, long-term signal providing direction and a great framework for business to release its powers of innovating and developing solutions for the world. In short, they are driving business to become an even stronger force for good.