The more systematic solutions for understanding, measuring and reducing our impacts on biodiversity are on their way. But let’s not sit and wait – it’s possible and important to act with the tools and knowledge we currently have. That is what Paulig is already doing. We are collaborating with our partners and suppliers to prevent biodiversity loss by for example applying more sustainable farming methods, planting new shade trees to coffee farms and advancing sustainable sourcing practices
For a long time, global focus has been on mitigating climate change. Meanwhile, another massive shift has been taking place in the nature surrounding us: loss of biodiversity. The soil is becoming impoverished and species all over the world, on land and seas are getting extinct. This growing issue is easier to miss because the problems generally occur within local ecosystems, unlike the upheavals caused by climate change currently happening across the globe.
Little by little, we have become better aware of biodiversity loss and the risks it poses, but we still lack some of the needed tools and metrics to effectively address and measure those. As a noteworthy event around this topic, the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, COP 15, will be held in December 2022. Our heartfelt hope is that this conference will result in a new global agreement on biodiversity (cf. the Paris Climate Agreement). A global agreement, followed by some science-based targets, metrics and mandatory reporting on our impacts on nature, would help us all to do our part and monitor the progress.
We need to get ambitious with goal setting
For Paulig biodiversity loss is an area where we are still gathering more understanding of our impacts, related risks and needed actions. We must be as ambitious about addressing biodiversity loss as we are with climate change – both issues need to be tackled at once as they are deeply interconnected.
Why is tackling loss of biodiversity so important to Paulig? It’s because of our purpose: we stand for a life full of flavour. We want to do good, both to the people and to the planet. All of this is intertwined: our products originate from the nature itself. Protecting biodiversity and improving soil health where our main ingredients are grown are essential to ensure that today’s numerous flavours in our portfolio will be available in the future as well. We source raw materials from over 80 countries, and the biggest volume items - coffee, wheat and corn used in our products originate for example from Brazil, Colombia and Europe.
One of our recent actions on this front was to participate in a pilot group of companies testing the new guidance from the Science Based Targets Network for setting science-based targets for nature organised by a corporate responsibility network Finnish Business and Society (FIBS) and Finland’s future-focused think thank Sitra. The more detailed guidance for setting science-based targets for biodiversity is planned to be published next year. We have also signed the “Make it Mandatory” COP15 Business Statement for Mandatory Assessment and Disclosure. This statement calls the participants to adopt mandatory requirements for large businesses and financial institutions to assess and report their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity, by 2030
A cup of more sustainable coffee, please!
We are already taking many actions to support biodiversity along our value chain. In coffee origin countries, we support local farming communities that are adapting to a changing climate by introducing more sustainable farming practices benefitting both climate and nature. Rather than creating initiatives focusing solely on biodiversity, we want to integrate the biodiversity aspects into the existing and upcoming collaborations for reducing our value chain climate impacts.
This year in Nicaragua, we supported planting 84,000 new coffee trees and 2,000 shade trees during the campaign carried out together with K Group. New coffee trees significantly improve the productivity of 15 farms, and shade trees support biodiversity, improve soil quality, and curb erosion and water evaporation from plantations. Shadow trees also serve as carbon sinks.
We are also collaborating with our Swedish supplier Lantmännen and its Climate & Nature programme, in which wheat farmers produce more sustainably farmed wheat for us to use to make those beloved Santa Maria tortillas. In addition to the reduced climate impact from the wheat cultivation, farmers plant flower zones for insects and pollinators and leave skylark plots for birds to nest in, both actions contribute to improved biodiversity on the farm.
In early 2022, Paulig published a Deforestation Policy where we commit to collaborating with our suppliers with an aim to eliminate commodity-related deforestation from our supply chains. We are committed to only engage in deforestation-free supply chains and we require the same from all our suppliers.
And we will, of course, continue our efforts to mitigate loss of biodiversity and climate change by advancing sustainable sourcing practices and sourcing third party verified raw materials, many of which are also certified by Organic, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance.
Last but not least, as our aim is to be a sustainable frontrunner among the food and beverage companies, we are committed to do our part to reverse the negative biodiversity impacts resulting from our operations and value chain.