L'Oréal and Unilever in global biodiversity coalition for 'systemic change'

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

OP2B has been established to “promote diversity” and catalyse “systemic change” for the benefit of the people and planet (Getty Images)
OP2B has been established to “promote diversity” and catalyse “systemic change” for the benefit of the people and planet (Getty Images)

Related tags: L'oréal, Unilever, United nations, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Raw materials

L'Oréal and Unilever are within the 19-strong One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) business coalition, set up to drive sustainable agriculture throughout global supply chains.

Formally launched today at the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York, the business-led coalition is made up of food, fashion, beauty and ingredient majors. With combined global revenues of more than €455bn and products spanning 120 countries, the coalition will work alongside the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to “promote diversity”​ and catalyse “systemic change”​ for the benefit of the people and planet.

“Agricultural biodiversity has been, and continues to be, shaped by human activities and practices over generations, with farmers playing a key role as custodians and managers of agricultural biodiversity,”​ OP2B said in a statement.

“Business is progressively acknowledging how deeply reliant it is on the planet’s biodiversity to provide the resources used in the food, textile, and personal care sectors. And consumers now know that every purchase they make is a chance to vote for more sustainable ways of producing food and other goods: they are looking for a new social contract with nature, that puts biodiversity at the centre of economic and social systems.”

2020 and 2030 biodiversity impact goals

Progress and impact of the coalition’s work would be reported and measured through to 2030 but key pledges and actions would be kick-started ahead of the UN’s 2020 Biodiversity COP15.

By next year, the coalition planned to develop a compilation of “systematic, meaningful, measurable solutions”​ that could be implemented throughout value chains, along with time bound commitments and policy proposals.

Peter Bakker, president and CEO of the WBCSD said the coalition had very “specific and ambitious goals”.

“We know that the path forward will be challenging. However, I am confident that, over time, the OP2B platform will transform existing food and agricultural models and achieve a significant, positive impact for both healthy people and a healthy planet.”

L'Oréal Case Study

Today, 59% of raw materials used in L'Oréal products are plant-based – around 1,600 raw materials from nearly 340 species of plants from around 100 countries.

The beauty and personal care major has pledged to prioritise renewable raw materials, implement a sustainable sourcing policy and achieve zero deforestation throughout its supply chain. L'Oréal is currently engaged in ongoing projects for vanilla sourcing in Madagascar; shea butter in Burkina Faso; and  candelilla wax Mexico.

‘Urgent need to act’

The coalition said it represented a collection of companies with shared strategic interests in agriculture that recognised “this urgent need to act” ​– all outlined in the OP2B ambition statement.

All 19 companies had committed to make individual and collective tangible actions to develop innovations that protected and enhanced biodiversity in agricultural systems.

Specifically, the coalition was focused on three main areas: scaling-up regenerative agriculture to protect soil health; making products that boosted cultivated biodiversity and increased the resilience of food-ag models; and eliminating deforestation and enhancing management and restoration of high-value natural ecosystems.

Speaking at the launch in New York, chairman and CEO of Danone Emmanuel Faber said: “According to many recent scientific studies, we have ten years to reset our course and bend the curve on climate change and wild and cultivated biodiversity loss. We need a collective effort now.”

OP2B currently consisted of 19 companies: Balbo Group, Barry Callebaut, Danone, DSM, Firmenich, Google, JACOBS DOUWE EGBERTS, Kellogg Company, Kering, Livelihoods Funds, L’Oréal, Loblaw Companies Limited, Mars, McCain Foods, Migros Ticaret, Nestlé, Symrise, Unilever and Yara.

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