Pernod Ricard to embed SDGs in sustainability strategy

EXCLUSIVE: Beverage giant Pernod Ricard is set to align its sustainability strategy, which also applies to its owned brands such as Chivas Brothers, Malibu and Absolut Vodka, with the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals "in the near future".

That is according to Chivas Brothers’ new head of sustainability, Sandrine Ricard, who stepped into the role earlier this year after eight years as Pernod Ricard’s vice president for sustainability and responsibility.

Speaking exclusively to edie, Ricard explained that the firm’s existing four-pillar Sustainability and Responsibility strategy will “become predominantly centred around the 17 Global Goals”, through supply chain mapping and strategy alignment, while future actions will be devised to align with the UN’s sweeping range of 2030 targets.

“The SDG framework isn’t something we have waited for to get active on, but it certainly helps in putting things together coherently and in highlighting the need for us to work collaboratively to make a difference,” Ricard said.

“For us, this will be an evolution rather than a revolution because, since 2009, we have grouped our sustainability and responsibility actions into four pillars across similar topics.”

Pernod Ricard’s existing strategy, which applies to its network of more than 30 beverage brands, covers responsible drinking, employee empowerment, environmental protection and community engagement.

As the name suggests, Ricard has family ties to the French beverage firm and took up a vice-presidential role back in 2009 to “help its branded companies follow a more focused and unified strategy”. Now, Ricard will attempt to deliver this strategy and the SDGs through her new role at Chivas Brothers.

She added that while all 17 SDGs are set to become “truly embedded” in the firm’s operations on a local level, across its global supply chain and in its offices, each brand would have a different material impact on each goal, based on the size of its operations and where its manufacturing facilities were located. Goal 12, responsible consumption and production, and Goal 8, decent work and economic growth, were highlighted as key targets across a multitude of brands.

“Our objective is not to target all 17 Goals in every brand, but to really focus on the ones which are most meaningful to us, as in those which we have the most material impact over,” Ricard said.

Brand purpose

Aligning with the SDGs will see Chivas Brothers’ employees encouraged to meet some of the 169 underlying targets accompanying the goals in their working and personal lives, with the firm set to implement several behaviour change drives around waste, water and energy efficiency.

Meanwhile, the firm will continue to run its annual Responsib’All day – an event which sees more than 18,000 employees from Pernod Ricard’s affiliates leave their workstation for a day each year to collaboratively take action on sustainability challenges.

Ricard, who has worked across the Pernod Ricard group and its brands for 14 years, added that working towards a broad scope of sustainability goals, such as the SDGs, is in the corporation’s “DNA”.

“Being family-led, our brand purpose is embedded at every level of our operations and conviviality comes naturally to us,” she explained.

“We practice what we preach not only because sustainability and responsibility make business sense, but because it undeniably is the right thing to do. We believe it is our duty to create a better world wherever we can.”

edie’s SDG Power Hour webinar

Here at edie, we are hosting an hour-long webinar later this month, discussing how businesses can drive engagement with the SDGs. 

Taking place Thursday 26th July, 2pm – 3pm (BST), the webinar, brought to you in association with DNV GL, will explore how the SDG framework can be used by sustainability and energy professionals to truly transform business, for good. Registrants will hear from a spread of business leaders and sustainable development experts as they discuss how to make the Global Goals resonate with colleagues – from the boardroom, to the ‘shop floor’.

For more information or to register for the webinar, click here.

Sarah George

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