We have taken part in UN Week for a number of years, a major calendar moment for people around the world, offering us a chance to discuss the biggest issues facing society and joining forces with Governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses like ours to help come up with solutions. From reducing environmental impacts to advancing science, innovation and marketing to help billions of people lead healthier, happier lives - when people around the world gather together to solve these challenges and commit to progress, we know there is reason to be optimistic.
This year’s theme ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet’, comes at a critical moment for the world as the effects of climate change are clear for all to see. Never has the emphasis on a sustainable planet been so urgent and so obvious. In fact, ahead of UN Week we announced our own commitment to protecting the planet and its people when we launched the Sustainable in a Generation Plan. One of our most loved brands joined us in announcing its support of renewable energy with the launch of the M&M’s Fans of Wind campaign which saw an art installation at Mashable’s Social Good Summit and the message broadcast to the world on the Jumbotron outside of M&M’s world in Times Square. Using “Red” and “Yellow” as enthusiastic advocates for renewable wind-powered energy, M&M’s showed how everyone – even colorful chocolate treats and their spokescandies - can make a difference.
Our spokescandies certainly kicked things off, but our spokespeople led the charge during the week in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
On Monday, at Climate Week’s opening ceremony, our Chairman Stephen Badger joined global leaders as well as Government and business representatives to explore the themes of innovation, jobs and prosperity. He drove home the point that “climate change will fundamentally alter food security, and businesses should take this threat seriously.”
Board member, Frank Mars, signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) later on in the day, which seeks to increase incomes and economic opportunities for thousands of smallholder farmers in developing countries. Following the signing, Frank Mars and Gilbert F. Houngbo, the President of IFAD took to the stage at the Concordia Summit to discuss the importance of partnerships in addressing issues such as lifting millions out of poverty, generating prosperity and creating new business opportunities for people in rural areas. Frank Mars said, "if we do not figure out how to get the next generation interested in the successful livelihood of farmers, we cannot feed our planet.” Given its significance, the MOU gained attention from the media including Politico and Devex.
On Tuesday, our President of Global Chocolate, Jean-Christophe Flatin spoke at a plenary session during the World Economic Forum Impact Summit discussing the Economics of Mutuality and their role in building a sustainable business. He said that “our customers expect us to show accountability for the entire value chain. We listen to consumers, the time for value for money is over, people are expecting values for money.”
A panel was held in the afternoon championing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to agriculture, food waste and achieving zero hunger. Mars Food President, Fiona Dawson, contributed to discussions on the practical progress needed in these areas. She said that “food safety is the cornerstone of food security. The more we can encourage sustainable practices, the less waste and more earnings for farmers.” Fiona also spoke at the International Conference on Sustainable Development & World Leaders Forum, which shined a spotlight on the ways women are paving the way to meet the SDGs.
A day later, a Facebook Live session took place, with Chief Sustainability and Health & Wellbeing Officer Barry Parkin, as well as Global Sustainability Director Kevin Rabinovitch. Speaking about Mars’ dedication to confronting these challenges Barry Parkin said: “We believe if we set bold science based goals then human ingenuity will find a way to advance solutions."
Our Human Rights Director, Marika McCauley Sine, and Global Sustainability Director Kate Wylie also participated in a Facebook Livesession, discussing sustainability and the role women can play in leading the way. They went on to join a number of events throughout the week, one of which included the Concordia Summit. Kate Wylie discussed our commitment to investing in a generation for a cleaner, more collaborative & transparent supply chain, while Marika McCauley Sine, participated in a roundtable focusing on ways to end modern slavery.
As the week drew to a close, we were joined by 50 leaders from government, civil society and the private sector at our Thriving People Workshop, exploring how our business and others can drive innovative approaches to global challenges, including significantly improving the working lives of people across value chains. Our event was again attended by leaders from across our business including: Board Member Frank Mars; Andy Pharoah, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Strategic Initiatives; and Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability and Health & Wellbeing Officer. Representatives from non-profit organizations also supported us at the event.
We know the power of collaboration to help tackle these global challenges. Throughout the week, we aimed to engage with those across the industry to try and ensure that we have a healthy planet on which people have the opportunity to thrive. It will be these partnerships that most effectively address global challenges like climate change, access to raw materials and poverty.
We are stronger together. Together, we are a #GenerationForChange
To find out more about our sustainability goals and ambitions, visit: http://www.mars.com/global/sustainable-in-a-generation