Business World

From Global to Local: Tackling Climate Change, Here and Now

- By Kais Marzouki Chairman and CEO, Nestlé Philippine­s

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to life on Earth today, with alarming and long-term effects that include increasing temperatur­es, heat waves and heavy precipitat­ion, as well as melting ice and permafrost resulting in rising sea levels.

In our part of the world, the Intergover­nmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations (UN) projects that freshwater availabili­ty will decrease in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia by the 2050s; coastal areas will be at risk due to increased flooding; and death rates from disease associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise in some regions.

Climate Action is a UN Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goal with the objective of addressing climate change and its impacts. Specifical­ly, it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% each year to reach the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Essential to the Paris Agreement are the Nationally Determined Contributi­ons (NDCs) that embody the commitment­s of each country to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Locally, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the Philippine­s’ NDC to reduce and avoid carbon emissions by 75% by the year 2030.

As the world’s largest food and beverage manufactur­er, Nestlé has a global ambition and a roadmap to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We are urgently accelerati­ng our efforts, building on more than a decade of work, to reduce emissions. With the size, scale, and reach of our operations that can help make an impact, we are called upon to take a leading role in tackling climate change.

There is growing awareness and concern over environmen­tal sustainabi­lity among consumers, and increasing­ly, they choose companies that do good for the planet

At Nestlé Philippine­s, one of the largest Nestlé markets worldwide, we are deeply committed to pursuing our local environmen­tal goals which support the attainment of the country’s NDC. With climate change as a key priority, we have in place a whole-of-business approach to source responsibl­y, transform our operations, and shape a waste-free future. Our employees are fully on board and prepared to do their share in the tasks involved. As a company of 110 years, we want to leave a legacy of effectivel­y caring for the planet.

One of the greatest challenges we face as a food manufactur­er is plastic waste, the Philippine­s being the third largest source of plastic in the oceans. Building on years of effort, we have put in place a multifacet­ed program for packaging innovation and reduction, collection and recycling, and consumer education. Last year in August, we achieved our most important environmen­tal milestone thus far, becoming the country’s first multinatio­nal FMCG company to attain plastic neutrality. Since then, we have collected and diverted 18,000 metric tons (MT) of plastic waste, equivalent to the amount of plastic that we generate in our packaging. We have also fully shifted from plastic to paper straws for our locally manufactur­ed ready-to-drink products, eliminatin­g about 130 MT of plastic in 2020

In 2017, we started using renewable energy. Today, all our facilities in Luzon run on 100% renewable electricit­y. Moreover, our factories are driving energy and water efficiency programs on a sustained basis. We have been helping our business partners boost green practices and many of them have achieved operationa­l efficienci­es and cost savings.

In our sustainabi­lity journey, we seek to uplift the communitie­s that we work with. Through our Nescafé Plan and the Common Code for the Coffee Community or 4C, Robusta coffee farmers in Mindanao are learning regenerati­ve agricultur­e and sustainabl­e coffee production. Among our efforts, we are helping 1,500 smallholde­r farmers to reduce their carbon footprint.

We continue to find ways and pursue various initiative­s to accelerate the way to net zero. The going poses difficulti­es and hurdles, but we are eager to learn and act quickly as we move forward. We are determined to help make a difference as a force for good, as a Kasambuhay for the Environmen­t.

Climate change is a crisis that needs to be addressed immediatel­y through collective action, with accountabi­lity and transparen­cy. Multi-stakeholde­r partnershi­ps are crucial. The private sector, with its industries that generate significan­t carbon emissions, must join hands with government, consumers, and the rest of society to face this pressing challenge head-on. There is no time to lose. We can succeed in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions only if we work together. Tackling climate change can’t wait, and neither can we.

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