Through the Climate & Nature Fund, Knorr is investing in 50 projects focused on regenerative agriculture practices.
Launched in 2020, our is a commitment to invest €1 billion by 2030 in meaningful climate, nature, and resource efficiency projects, to transform the way our products are made and reach end of life. It is an initiative powered by Unilever’s well-known brands, such as Knorr, Dove, and Ben & Jerry’s, to drive value creation while having a positive impact on the planet.
The projects supported by the fund aim to help Unilever progress towards its goal to improve the health of the planet, including , while also driving growth and increasing resilience. Finally, it is an ambition to create an impact-led investment platform set up to drive collaboration with partners and co-financers to scale solutions beyond our value chain. By the end of 2022, we had spent and committed over €200 million.
Our approach to investing in climate and nature
At Unilever, we believe that sustainability and value creation go hand in hand. This is at the centre of our Compass strategy. The Climate & Nature Fund therefore invests in fighting climate change, protecting nature and acting as a catalyst for value creation for Unilever and its partners.
We have defined four key driving principles which underpin the way we operate and how we assess sustainable investment opportunities under the Climate & Nature Fund:
Seeking environmental and social impact at scale
Many of the climate and nature challenges we face are not unique to our business but are experienced across our industry. Therefore, we are choosing projects that help drive change at system level, through that benefit our business, people, and planet.
Fostering partnerships across public and private sectors
Bringing new thinking into our company is essential to drive disruption and deliver the step changes that are required to address the challenges of climate change and nature degradation. We recognise that our impact priorities are diverse and achieving them will require collaboration with a broad range of organisations such as suppliers, co-financers, and project developers, as well as NGO partners and academia. Partners working with us through the Climate & Nature Fund are experts in their fields and can help us seize opportunities via our brands.
Providing flexible financing mechanisms adapted to project needs
Through the Climate & Nature Fund, we have the flexibility to use different forms of investment, such as equity and project finance. We are also using co-finance partnerships, such as the Rimba Collective, with the aim of unlocking ambitious and collaborative action beyond our value chain. This flexibility means that our brands have the opportunity to fund a diverse range of programmes, delivering benefits to our consumers, business, and planet.
Creating value for our brands and our business
Through the Climate & Nature Fund, we hope to deliver positive environmental impact and business benefits. The fund sits at the heart of our business, supporting our brands to deliver the objectives of our sustainable business strategy, the Compass. By helping us to take climate action, protect and regenerate nature, and reduce waste, while also raising living standards and building resilience in our value chain, our purposeful brands will drive growth and help future-proof our license to operate. Therefore, each project is evaluated for its capacity to create value.
Our seven sustainable investment themes
The Climate & Nature Fund wants to invest to drive systemic change and transform our value chains. Working closely with our business groups, we have identified seven sustainable investment themes that can unlock many of our sustainability challenges.
We are going to invest systematically and significantly. Once you do that, you create energy in the system.Eric Soubeiran, Managing Director of the Climate & Nature Fund
Sustainable and natural feedstock alternatives
As part of our Compass, we are committed to 100% sustainable sourcing of our key commodities; a deforestation-free supply chain in five of our key commodities; and replacing fossil-fuel-derived carbon with renewable or recycled carbon in all our cleaning and laundry product formulations by 2030. Securing alternative ingredients by unlocking and scaling new sustainable and natural feedstocks is critical to our plans and will help us to evolve and future-proof our portfolio, by diversifying our supply chains while offering consumers more sustainable products.
Carbon capture and utilisation
Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) can enable a circular approach to the use of carbon. We hope that investment in CCU can help us achieve our target to replace fossil-fuel-derived carbon with renewable or recycled carbon in all our cleaning and laundry product formulations by 2030. For example, soda ash made from CO2 captured through CCU can be used as an ingredient in our laundry powders.
Biotechnology for sustainable ingredients
Investing in biotechnologies can help us diversify our sourcing of carbon. For instance, it has enabled us to with Rhamnolipids, a biosurfactant made using sugar, as the largest raw material. It can also help us develop new ingredients that make our products more efficient. For example, a laundry capsule that delivers the same result at a lower temperature has lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with its use.
Our target to halve the GHG impact of our products per consumer use by 2030 is dependent on a reduction in the consumer use emissions associated with our products. We are continuously looking for new innovations and partnerships that can help us achieve this.
Plastic alternatives and transformation
Plastic is often the lowest carbon footprint option to package our goods compared to other materials but is frequently ending up in our environment. To help tackle this, we have ambitious targets as part of our . Guided by our framework: less plastic, better plastic or no plastic, we are working to unlock plastic alternatives and improve recycling infrastructure to ensure our technically recyclable packaging can actually be recycled in the markets where it is sold.
Animal-derived products, such as dairy, are a key ingredient for many of our brands. Methane emissions from agriculture, mostly from ruminant digestion and manure, are now equivalent to 42% of human-caused methane emissions. That’s why we are seeking to and ingredient replacements.
In 2022, sales from our non-dairy, plant-based ice cream represented 8% of the turnover in our Ice Cream Business Group, appealing to consumers beyond those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. We hope that investments and partnerships in non-animal-derived alternatives will help us to progress towards our target of reaching net zero emissions across our value chain by 2039 and achieve €1.5 billion of sales per annum from plant-based products in categories whose products are traditionally using animal-derived ingredients by 2025.
Regenerative agriculture and positive action on nature
Agriculture, land use, and deforestation together represent the second-largest source of global GHG emissions and are the primary driver of biodiversity loss. The destruction of nature is already posing real and significant risks to communities and economies through flooding and agricultural yield decline. We believe that the only solution is systemic change.
We are seeking projects that beyond our value chain. Investments in these areas will help us deliver on our commitments to protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests, and oceans by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions across our value chain by 2039.
Renewable energy transition
for our own operations but, most of the energy consumption in our value chain happens beyond our factory walls. Our sourcing of raw materials and ingredients represent 59% of the GHG emissions within the scope of our net zero target, in addition to retail emissions associated with our 3 million ice cream freezers, which make up 10%.
Through the Climate & Nature Fund, we will help ensure that the actors in our value chain most responsible for these emissions can access the financing required to transform their operations. A global transition to renewable energy is critical for achieving our net zero ambition.
Our work in action
By the end of 2022, we had spent and committed over €200 million. You can see some examples of our live projects and collaborations here.
Ben & Jerry’s is shaping the future of dairy, using the Climate & Nature Fund to develop a potentially game-changing initiative.
Unilever is a founding partner of the Regenerative Agriculture Fund to ensure that the transition to regenerative agriculture happens at scale.
We are scaling our efforts with our brands through partnerships such as the Rimba Collective, of which we are a founding member.
Latest Climate & Nature Fund news
For Earth Day 2023, Eric Soubeiran, Managing Director of the Climate & Nature Fund, was interviewed by youth activist and biologist Swetha Stotra Bhashyam.