While it has widely been accepted that business-as-usual practices are not synonymous with a sustainable future, business still needs a nudge in the right direction, according to MARS CEO Grant F. Reid, who has called out the need for transformational, cross-industry collaboration to tackle the most pressing social and environmental challenges.
Speaking ahead of this month’s UN General Assembly and Climate Week in New York, Reid said the responsibility has never been greater for industry: “If we are to help deliver on the targets agreed in Paris and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, there has to be a huge step change. While many companies have been working on being more sustainable, the current level of progress is nowhere near enough.”
“Data and connectivity are helping us get smarter about our impact every year. Today, climate science is clear and we understand the environmental and social challenges in our supply chain better than ever before. With this knowledge, it is clear that the scale of intervention needs to be much bolder — now is the time for business to reassess its role and responsibility in the ace of the evidence,” Reid added.
Reid’s rhetoric coincides with the launch of a MARS’s new Sustainable in a Generation Plan, which sets far-reaching goals and ambitions underpinned by science and a determination to drive impact throughout the extended supply chain. To accelerate progress, the company will invest approximately $1 billion in achieving the plan’s three key ambitions:
- Healthy Planet: Reducing environmental impacts in line with the recommendations of the scientific community to keep the planet health, with a particular focus on climate action, water stewardship and land management. For example, MARS has announced a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 67 percent by 2050, dramatically expanding upon its previous goals to reduce GHG within its operations.
- Thriving People: Meaningfully improving the working lives of one million people in its value chain to enable them to thrive, by increasing income, respecting human rights and unlocking opportunities for women. Aligning with this ambition is the launch of MARS’s Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, which aims to foster sustainability and poverty reduction in its extended supply chains and the Farmer Income Lab, a collaborative ‘think-do tank’ focusing on generating the missing insights needed to eradicate smallholder poverty.
- Nourishing Wellbeing: Advancing science, innovation and marketing in ways that help billions of people and their pets lead healthier, happier lives. This continues on current efforts around food safety and security; product and ingredient renovation and responsible marketing.
“This plan is about not just doing better, but doing what’s necessary,” Reid said. “We’re doing this because it is the right thing to do but also because it’s good business. Creating mutual benefits for the people in our supply chain and mitigating our impact on the environment are sound business choices. We also know that increasingly our consumers care about these issues as much we do.”
During the UN General Assembly, MARS also intends to reveal plans to engage consumers around these topics through its M&M’s brand. The company will launch a new campaign called "Fans of Wind," leveraging its tremendous reach with consumers to champion the power of renewable energy and highlight the need for action in addressing climate change.
MARS has a history of collaborating with others to push the sustainability agenda. The company participated in last year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Marrakech and signed a letter urging global leaders to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement. Last year, it also launched its Moy wind farm in the Scottish Highlands to generate renewable electricity equivalent to the company’s entire UK operations.
“We know we cannot grow and prosper unless the planet, people and communities on which we rely are healthy and thriving,” said Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability and Health and Wellbeing Officer at MARS. “Doing what’s right, not just doing better, is at the very core of our new plan. It’s about pushing the boundaries and extending our bold ambitions across our extended supply chain. When we do that, and when others join us, only then will we have the greatest impact.”