Kate Wylie to step down as Mars’ global sustainability lead for new role at Chanel

Wylie's career with Mars spanned more than a decade

Wylie joined Mars back in 2010, as the business’ global sustainability director. She was promoted to the global vice-president for sustainability in 2017.

Under Wylie’s tenure, Mars unveiled its flagship sustainability strategy ‘Sustainable in a Generation’, backed by $1bn of investment from the multinational. The original strategy was aligned with the Paris Agreement’s less ambitious 2C trajectory, so, in light of the updated climate science outlined by the IPCC in 2018, Mars developed a 1.5C-aligned update called ‘Pledge for Planet’.

Aside from climate action, Wylie’s remit covered issues such as making packaging more sustainable and improving livelihoods across supply chains.

Wylie’s next challenge will be heading up Chanel’s global sustainability team, as the luxury brand strives to meet 1.5C-aligned science-based targets. She succeeds current global chief sustainability officer Andrea d’Avack, who is retiring in June. Wylie will join the Chanel team in April and spend time preparing before officially assuming her new title.

Wylie will also serve as global president of the Fondation Chanel – Chanel’s charitable foundation. The organisation focuses on gender equality, financing and overseeing projects across the world which intend to empower women and teenage girls.

Chanel said in a statement that it has appointed Wylie because she has “a deep understanding of business operations and sustainability issues across the value chain, and is recognised for her extensive experience in this field”.

Indeed, Wylie’s work has been recognised by the UK government. She currently sits on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) council for sustainable business and the Treasury’s advisory panel for its review of the economics of biodiversity. This review was kick-started by former Chancellor Philip Hammond in 2019 and is still ongoing. Its aim is to help governments and businesses adopt a natural capital approach and to accelerate investment in conservation and restoration, while bolstering nature-related risk assessments and disclosures.

Spotlight on Chanel

Chanel has been increasingly vocal about its sustainability work and ambitious with its environmental targets in recent months.

Last March, the luxury fashion house published a sustainability strategy called ‘Chanel Mission 1.5’. The business had already achieved carbon neutral status by reducing direct emissions and then offsetting, but the strategy outlines plans to ensure that reductions are 1.5C-aligned and replicated across the entire value chain – from the supply chain to retail and runways.

September saw Chanel launching its first green bond in a drive to finance projects relating to the new strategy. The brand raised €600m through the bond issue.

BNP Paribas, which supported the transaction, claims that the bond is the first in the luxury sector to be linked to the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Sustainability Linked Bonds Principles. The bond trades on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

Sarah George

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