Coffee beans

Yara pilots UNGC sustainability program

Oslo, November 21, 2014
As one of a handful of LEAD companies, Yara opted to try the Global Compact LEAD Board program on sustainability. “Doing this pilot workshop provided new perspectives to the Board’s strategy discussions,” says Bente Slaatten, Yara’s Chief Communications and Branding Officer.
Bente Slaatten and Georg Kell

Feeding a growing population

The United Nations Global Compact is a forum for business and non-businesses alike to network and engage in areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption, and to contribute to UN goals of building a sustainable and inclusive global economy. With more than 10,000 participants spread across 145 countries, the Global Compact is constantly expanding its reach.

To Yara, sustainability is an area where the company is developing its competitive edge. We have defined food, resources and environment as the priority areas where we engage to develop business growth opportunities –  creating shared value also for society at large.

“Sustainably feeding 9 billion people in 2050 is a key human challenge, and Yara will be part of the solution. We deliver profitable business solutions for more sustainable and productive agriculture, which is an increasingly important topic on the global agenda,” says Slaatten.

Shifting focus

UNGC LEAD is an exclusive forum established to engage the most committed companies within the GC group to lead the way in the area of sustainability. The UNGC LEAD workshop is tailored to each company, and is designed to guide the Board’s consideration of risks and opportunities related to sustainability matters. The in-depth discussion facilitated by leading expertise resonated well with Yara’s Board of Directors.

In connection with the workshop, Slaatten was interviewed by The Guardian. Slatten told the newspaper that prior to enrolling in the board program Yara had focused on sustainability impacts but had not “fully embedded” it into our business strategy. “We were discussing how to integrate, and how to measure sustainability performance beyond GHG emission targets and safety performance,” she said.

The next move, Slaatten says, will be for Yara to incorporate its findings into the Board’s business strategy. “Right now, we are also working on determining what we need to measure, how we are going to measure, and how we are going to follow up on our discoveries,” she told The Guardian.

“Through Yara’s Creating Impact strategic approach, sustainability and shared value are already seen as opportunities for business growth. In this regard Yara is differentiated from our competitors, and engaging broadly on climate change and environmental issues is already a stream of revenues to Yara,” explains Slaatten.

Partnerships anchored in business

Yara is already seeing revenues coming from engagements focusing on food, environment and resources. Examples include partnering with the food industry in the Balkans, improved energy efficiency, sharing knowledge with Asian farmers and environmental solutions to cleanse harmful emissions to air. Through dedicated working programs anchored in business units and increased efforts for innovation and R&D, Yara is consciously developing its capabilities.

Yara’s workshop was facilitated by Professor Robert Eccles of Harvard Business School, and Yara was one of six companies trying the program, the others being Sinopec Corporation, Enel, Eskom, SK Telecom and Eni.

The UN Global Compact launched the Board program at its LEAD summit in New York on 20 November.

Read the full Guardian interview with Bente Slaatten

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