The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets with an important common nominator to eliminate poverty and inequality and to protect the environmental capacity of the globe. All countries are bound by these goals but in order to achieve them, we also need concrete actions from companies, organisations and individuals.
UPM analysed all 169 targets and selected six goals and 12 targets where the company has the biggest impact through its operations, products and solutions. The focus goals are: Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), Affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), Responsible consumption (SDG 12), Climate action (SDG 13) and Life on land (SDG 15). The whole company works towards these goals.
“The UN’s SDGs provide a true global framework for sustainability. Our focus is to promote the goals that we have selected, based on a careful materiality analysis. Furthermore, we want to be – through our concrete examples - a benchmark for other companies,” says Anna Palomäki from the UPM Responsibility team.
Corporations’ role is getting more important
UPM’s goals are in line with the company’s Biofore strategy, with 2030 responsibility targets and with the stakeholder expectations. “The UN SDGs, and especially the targets that define them, are concrete ways through which a company can develop its own operations and products to promote sustainability. It is important that a company selects goals that are essential to its own business and genuinely commits to them, starting from the management,” says Lenita Toivakka, the Executive Director of Global Compact Network Finland.
Global Compact is the UN’s initiative that calls on all companies involved to commit to the UN’s principles regarding human rights, workers’ rights, the environment and the prevention of corruption. This year, the initiative celebrates its 20th anniversary and is the world’s leading collaboration forum on sustainable development with roughly 10,000 member companies. UPM joined the initiative in 2003 and is now one of the 36 Global Compact LEAD participants who are strongly committed to the initiative and its sustainability principles.
According to Toivakka, companies play a major role in putting the 2030 Agenda into action. “Companies have expertise, technology and innovations, which need to be utilised more comprehensively to enable sustainable development. Through the SDGs companies have an excellent opportunity to expand and grow their businesses and prepare themselves for risks,” she states.
Goals are carefully chosen together
UPM made a materiality analysis of the sustainable development goals, first in 2015 and again in 2019. “We participated in developing the SDG reporting instructions of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Global Compact in 2018 and utilised those in 2019. All 169 targets were analysed in detail based on UPM’s potential positive and negative impacts on them and possibilities to increase or minimise those impacts,” tells Anna Palomäki. All chosen goals and targets were also discussed with the representatives from each business area, and everyone was ready to commit to them.
Through the targets, opportunities to influence turn into concrete actions. For example, with the target related to clean water, UPM aims to decrease the amount of wastewater by 30% and the amount of chemical oxygen load by 40% by 2030. A similar approach applies to other targets. For example, the company is committed to prevent occupational accidents, to reduce solid landfill waste down to zero level, and to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions.
Also, the Biofore Site concept that has been globally piloted at UPM Raflatac factories, supports practical implementation. Within the framework, goals are set for each UPM Raflatac factory at shop floor level. “The goals promote both UPM’s 2030 responsibility targets and the selected UN SDGs, and those are being monitored regularly. Our other business areas are also taking steps in making use of this concept,” Anna Palomäki tells.
UPM participated also to the Global Compact LEAD reporting platform aiming to improve the companies’ SDG reporting framework. The six focus goals UPM has selected are in line with the company’s 2030 responsibility targets, and therefore the company reports the progress on SDGs alongside the progress of its own responsibility 2030 targets. Monitoring is constant: if a goal is reached earlier than expected, the bar is raised. When the company’s own responsibility targets are in line with the UN’s SDGs, every UPM employee can feel that they are participating in building a more sustainable world.
UPM publishes throughout the year 2020 a series of articles regarding the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The articles will introduce in more detail all focus goals the company has selected.
Text: Janne Suokas