Unilever announces first €1bn Climate & Nature Fund project

Image: Dove

The FMCG giant first unveiled the funding last summer, alongside a new commitment to reach net-zero emissions for all products by 2039 and to eliminate deforestation from the supply chain by 2023.

Late last week, it revealed plans to work, through Dove, with Conservation International on the first project to receive a portion of the fund. The €8.5m project is designed to conserve and restore 20,000 hectares of forest in North Sumatra, Indonesia, over a five-year period.

The location has been chosen as it plays host to a rich ecosystem, with native species including orang-utans, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran rhinoceroses, Komodo dragons and Borneo elephants. But habitats are being lost due to land-use change, which also lowers the environment’s ability to capture and sequester carbon.

Dove claims that the project, which will cover an area twice the size of Paris, will avoid the release of 200,000 tonnes of CO2e and enable a further 300,000 tonnes of CO2e to be sequestered. It has stated that it will monitor and evaluate the realisation of these projected impacts as the project continues.

Commenting on the milestone, Dove’s global executive vice-president Alessandro Manfredi said: “Can we really celebrate beauty if it comes at the cost of the planet? The answer is no. We must demand action and care that goes further, both from ourselves and from the beauty industry at large.

“As a global brand with care at our core, we have a responsibility to use our platforms to drive change and positively impact the world around us. The Dove Forest Restoration Project builds on our commitments to caring for our planet and caring about how we make our products and what goes into them. With this long-term initiative, we extend this care to improving the health of the planet, striving for a more sustainable way of being.”

Unilever’s overarching nature target is to contribute to the restoration of 1.5 million hectares of habitat by 2030. This is more than the area covered by its agricultural supply chains for beauty and personal care products.

‘Plant for our Planet’

In related news, the UK Government has launched a new pre-COP26 campaign encouraging individuals, community groups and businesses to conserve, restore or create habitats in their local areas.

Called ‘Plant for our Planet’, the campaign is being supported by organisations including National Trust, Woodland Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, Wildlife and Countryside Link, Horticultural Trades Association and the Royal Horticultural Society. Such bodies will be able to provide advice on delivering and maintaining projects with tangible positive impacts for biodiversity and climate, which also deliver benefits to people.

“The world has an extraordinary opportunity at COP26 to come together to tackle climate change and reverse biodiversity loss,” Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said. “Plant For Our Planet is a chance for the public to take part, planting flowers and trees, restoring a community space and getting out into nature.”

The campaign launch comes shortly after Pow’s Department, the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) published its England Peat Action Plan and England Trees Action Plan. It also follows on from the UK Government’s announcement of an additional £8m in funding for projects that protect endangered species and vulnerable habitats overseas, to be spent across 31 projects over a three-year period.

Sarah George

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