Bayer has today announced a set of comprehensive sustainability measures and new commitments from 2020 onward. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the Paris Agreement, the company has set ambitious targets to be achieved by 2030. “By making sustainability an even stronger part of our strategy and operations, we aim to achieve long-term returns and generate a positive impact for society and the environment,” says Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG.
The world is collectively facing an unprecedented challenge to ensure that a growing and aging world population has the chance to thrive while using the planet’s resources in a more sustainable way. “The scale of our business creates responsibility and opportunity for us to act. That is why, we are now significantly stepping up our sustainability efforts,” says Baumann. Bayer will monitor and report the sustainability targets with the same rigor as its financial targets. The goals will be integrated into decision-making processes and management compensation.
Furthermore, Bayer will establish an independent Sustainability Council consisting of external sustainability experts. Advising the Board of Management, the council will monitor and challenge the further development of Bayer’s sustainability efforts.
Bayer’s increased efforts are designed to help more people thrive and make the most efficient use of natural resources. That is why, Bayer sets itself the following detailed targets.
Enabling hundreds of millions through access to health and nutrition
By 2030, Bayer aims to support 100 million smallholder farmers in low-and-middle income countries by providing access to more innovations, knowledge and partnerships. Bayer’s support will help increase local food supply and reduce poverty in rural communities. Today there are around 550 million smallholder farms worldwide. In developing countries, they produce food for 80 percent of the population. However, stuck in subsistence farming, many farmers suffer from hunger or malnutrition themselves.
Within the same time frame, Bayer intends to provide 100 million women in low-and-middle income countries with access to family planning by funding multi-stakeholder aid programs and by ensuring the supply of affordable modern contraceptives. As of 2019, Bayer already provides contraceptives to about 40 million women in low-and-middle income countries. Family planning methods are vital in the support of women’s health, rights and economic status. At present, more than 200 million women in low-and-middle income countries have an unmet need for modern contraception.
In general, Bayer is working on adapting its pricing policy towards local purchasing power and strengthening patient access programs to increase the availability and affordability of Bayer products. Bayer will also continue to support the World Health Organization (WHO) in fighting neglected tropical diseases with product donations and financial support.
In addition, Bayer aims to expand access to everyday health for 100 million people in underserved communities around the world. Today, at least half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health services, including self-care. Expanding access to self-care solutions and health education can help prevent diseases and offer healthcare to communities where self-care might be the only option. With an initial focus on women’s health and expanding access to micronutrients for pregnant women and children, Bayer intends to increase the availability and affordability of its trusted brands and support self-care initiatives.
Taking significant measures to protect climate and environment
Bayer has been engaged in climate protection for decades and will further accelerate its efforts to combat climate change and protect biodiversity.
The company is aiming to become carbon-neutral in its own operations by 2030. To accomplish this, Bayer will implement energy efficiency measures, switch to 100 percent renewable electricity and offset the remaining emissions through biodiversity-enhancing carbon capture. Bayer is committed to the Science Based Targets Initiative and is already listed as a company that is taking action. In this project, started by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the U.N. Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), more than 700 companies have committed to taking significant climate action and setting emission reduction targets to keep the increase in global temperature below 2°C.
In this regard, Bayer is striving for absolute emission reduction along the entire value chain by engaging with suppliers and customers, as well as in the company’s logistics and packaging.
Bayer will also collaborate with farmers to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture wherever the company operates. Bayer aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions – per kilogram of crops produced in major agricultural markets – and the environmental impact of crop protection by 30 percent by 2030 in each case. To this end, Bayer will help farmers apply more sustainable practices, such as reducing tillage to help sequester carbon in the soil, and ensuring the more precise use of crop protection and fertilizer through product innovation and digital tools.
Contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
Bayer’s sustainability commitments aim to achieve impact in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations agreed on 17 SDGs to build a better world for people and our planet by 2030. According to the UN, however, urgent and more rapid progress is needed. “With only ten years left, companies must live up to their responsibilities and act accordingly,” says Werner Baumann. “Bayer is positioned like only a few other companies to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and this is precisely what our commitment is.”
In addition to combating hunger (SDG 2) and promoting health and wellbeing (SDG 3), Bayer's commitment will make a substantial contribution to taking climate action (SDG 13) and protecting life on land (SDG 15). Women play a key role in smallholder farming, in family planning and in ensuring the health of their families. Helping them to realize their potential will be a contribution to gender equality (SDG 5) and will also provide significant socio-economic benefits to local communities and economies.