USA – Nestlé, Danone and Unilever have been named as Global Compact LEAD companies for their ongoing commitment to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact and its Ten principles for responsible business.

Nestlé joined the UN Global Compact in 2001 and by adopting a principles-based approach to sustainability, the company claims that it has been made impact as part of a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders.

The food and beverage giant notes that its priorities are in those areas “where business interests most closely match those of society.”

These include nutrition, with a special focus on children; developing thriving and resilient rural communities; and stewarding natural resources for the future.

Commenting on the announcement at the UN Global Leaders Week in New York, Magdi Batato, Executive Vice President, Head of Operations at Nestlé, said: “We are accelerating our efforts throughout our entire value chain to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“This will help advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. We are proud of Today’s recognition as it underlines our leadership in climate change.

“Over the years, we have intensified our efforts in key areas that help protect human rights, improve health and tackle climate change. We have made progress, but we will not stop here. Our sustainability journey is more intense than ever before.”

The food and beverage majors were recognized alongside 36 global companies at the Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York. The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.               

Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, said, “LEAD companies represent the highest level of engagement with the UN Global Compact. More than ever before, the world needs businesses of all sizes — like the ones announced as LEAD today — that continuously work to improve their sustainability performance and take action to build a better world.”

To be eligible for LEAD recognition, companies must be a participant in at least two Global Compact Action Platforms.

Companies also need to demonstrate engagement with the initiative and commitment to defining and fostering leadership practices in line with the Global Compact Ten Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals.

 In addition, the companies are to report on their progress on implementing the Ten Principles on annual basis.

1.5C pledge from 87 global companies

In June, the UN Global Compact, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the We Mean Business coalition issued a call for action for companies to take the lead by setting 1.5C targets for their own operations and across their entire value chains.

Currently, a total of 87 multinational companies, with a combined worth of US$2.3trn and direct emissions equal to 73 coal-fired power plants, have pledged to set climate targets for their entire value chains aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C and reaching net-zero by no later than 2050.

The latest cohort to join the drive include Danone, Firmenich and Nestlé in the food and beverage industry, fueling hope of bending emissions curve.

The organic UK tea brand Pukka Herbs announced in mid-September that it will be offsetting all its emissions this year while German-headquartered technology and services multinational Bosch has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2020.

Companies signing on with the UNGC pledge have agreed to set independently verified “science-based” targets and create decarbonisation plans within 24 months to start bringing their emissions down to keep warming below 1.5C.