Caring for the Planet
“Accelerate the pace and scale up”
The shock wave created by a combination of crises—health, economic, and environmental—has raised companies’ awareness about the need to increase the scale and pace of their sustainability strategies. Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer, discusses the programs being pursued by Kering.
In 2020, Kering presented its biodiversity strategy. What challenge does it address?
Maintaining biodiversity is, of course, intrinsically linked to the long-term viability of our planet, but it also has a particularly direct link to our sector. The fact that our activities rely heavily on natural resources means that their conservation is absolutely vital if we are to continue to grow in an acceptable and sustainable way. Hence the urgency in deploying a strategy for Kering’s daily operations to halt biodiversity loss. For several years now, we have been supporting conservation programs that set an example for the way ahead, and we have also formalized standards for raw materials and animal welfare.
However, the challenge of preserving biodiversity goes far beyond this. The crisis has only confirmed our belief in the need to take action on biodiversity without delay: the pandemic has sounded yet another alarm bell about the need to preserve the ecosystems that are essential for our planet’s survival. According to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), 65% of emerging infectious diseases —of which coronavirus is just one example—are the result of zoonosis, the transmission of pathogens from the animal world to humans. Species diversity and the preservation of their natural habitats can therefore provide a layer of protection against future pandemics. The recent crisis is a collective invitation for us to increase our sustainability efforts by taking practical, ambitious action, particularly in terms of biodiversity. Meanwhile, 2020 should have been the Year of Biodiversity, featuring the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, which had to be postponed due to the pandemic. At Kering, far from reducing our efforts, we actually increased them in terms of our ambitions, projects and investments, all of which are detailed in the biodiversity strategy we presented in July 2020.
What are the aims and objectives of this strategy?
Our strategy, which aims to be pioneering, is based on three objectives: halting biodiversity loss, re-establishing essential ecosystems and conserving species, and driving systemic change throughout the supply chain and beyond. A four-part roadmap —Avoid, Reduce, Restore & Regenerate, and Transform—should enable us to achieve these objectives.
In the wake of the strategy presentation, Kering and Conservation International announced the creation of the Regenerative Fund for Nature. With a budget of €5 million over five years, it will finance projects that demonstrate the positive effects on nature, the climate, and farmers’ earnings from regenerative agricultural practices. It opened for applications in January 2021 and we can’t wait to see these projects being launched and making the greatest possible impact. The aim is to convert one million hectares of farmland and countryside to regenerative agriculture, making it possible to produce raw materials for our supply chain. It’s a key step in our commitment to achieving a positive net impact on biodiversity by 2025. This is in addition to our commitment to protect one million hectares of critical natural habitats that are considered irreplaceable, and which are not connected with our supply chain. So, in total, we are committed to transforming and conserving two million hectares of land.
What’s your view of the current momentum behind corporate sustainability?
Today, the awareness exists, but it’s not enough: every business organization needs to take more action, and more quickly. A luxury player like Kering needs to offer products that are both outstanding in their creativity and beyond reproach in their production. It’s why we must—and we will—keep developing our innovations and processes, and do so on an even greater scale. This will involve tanning without the use of heavy metals, an approach that has been adopted by some of our Houses and which already covers 30% of our purchasing for leatherwork. Our aim is to reach 100% as soon as possible.
Success will also depend on the willingness of organizations to join forces to achieve real impact. This was the spirit behind our decision to share the Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L) tool developed by Kering, which measures environmental impact in monetary terms and provides guidance on how to reduce that impact. And the tool is freely available as open‑source software. Another strong signal of our willingness to act is the Fashion Pact, which has now been signed by more than 35% of the world’s fashion industry and is beginning to drive significant change. We are in a race against time and the fashion sector is playing a key role, in particular by creating virtuous circles of collaboration among companies that are increasingly open to sharing their data and practices with others.
Several indicators make me believe that things are moving in the right direction. First of all, our focus on sustainability is making more of an impact on client behavior, particularly among young people. Meanwhile, the world of finance is also changing very quickly as a result of the growing importance of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors. These criteria are encouraging companies to be more transparent and to speed up the transformation of their business models by going further than merely compensating for direct negative externalities. Such a move has very significant potential for transformation—and the Group’s financial and sustainability departments are already working together in this area. Taken together, all of this makes me optimistic about the future—for Kering, but also for all of us.
Discover the other sections of our Activity report
What were the key challenges of 2020? How did our teams respond to the situation? What are our proudest achievements? What are our priorities? Our objectives? Read interviews with Jean-François Palus, Group Managing Director, Béatrice Lazat, Chief People Officer, Grégory Boutté, Chief Client & Digital Officer and Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer.