Our global food system is broken; it's responsible for a quarter of all human-induced emissions, fuelling climate change and driving nature loss. The world's leading scientists have issued a code red for humanity and it's clearer than ever, if we don't act now it will be too late.
Action needs to be now, it has to be bold and it has to be us – it's not something we can leave to other people to sort out. As the world's largest food and beverage company we have a responsibility and a clear role to play to reduce our impact on the environment while helping to feed a growing global population. But we must go further. We must go beyond 'doing no harm' to having a positive impact on food systems at scale.
We know that the food system is a significant contributor to climate change and is often at the centre of environmental and societal challenges, but it also has a unique opportunity to be a significant part of the solution.
We need to improve the food system so that it supports and regenerates the planet instead of exhausting it
That's why we've launched our regeneration promise to advance regenerative food systems at scale. We recognise the fact that we're the first generation to experience the impacts of climate change and potentially the last generation who can do anything about it. We are 'Generation Regeneration'.
What do we mean by regeneration?
For us, regeneration is all about establishing systems, from farm to table, that protect, restore, renew and have a positive impact on people and planet, locally and globally. While our focus on regeneration is rooted in the principles of regenerative agriculture, we're looking more broadly to ensure we support people in communities and improve livelihoods and also contribute to the well-being of all our partners, suppliers and consumers.
Our work as Generation Regeneration will therefore focus on our farmers, youth, consumers and our own employees.
This focus on regeneration doesn't mean we've abandoned our other environmental efforts, in fact they are all just as important as part of our journey towards a more regenerative food system. We've already made ambitious climate commitments: to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and to halve them by 2030. And we've made important commitments to ensure that 100% of our packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2025 and to reduce our use of virgin plastic by a third in the same timeframe.
Additionally, we're continuing to work hard to achieve 100% renewable energy within the next five years at more than 800 sites across 187 countries. In the UK and Ireland, we are already there with 100% renewable grid-supplied electricity at our sites. We have achieved this by investing in the development of new wind power capacity. We will be shifting our vehicles to lower emission options and offsetting all business travel by 2022.
As two-thirds of our footprint comes from agriculture – the ways we grow and produce the ingredients that make up our products – regenerative agriculture is a central pillar of our promise.
Sparking a transition to regenerative agricultural food systems
We want to protect and restore the environment, improve the livelihoods of farmers and enhance the well-being of farming communities. We'll work with our food system partners, including our network of more than 500 000 farmers and 150 000 suppliers, to advance regenerative farming practices at the heart of the food system. As part of this journey, we will also initiate new programmes to help address the social challenges the transition will bring.
We know that our farmers will need support as they make the transition to regenerative agriculture, so it's vital that we support them as they take on the risks and costs associated with changing their working practices.
Nestlé is investing CHF 1.2 billion over the next five years to ignite a transition to regenerative agriculture across our supply chain. There are three main ways we're going to help farmers adapt. First, we'll give them technical assistance, backed by our vast network of agronomists and R&D experts. Support will include agricultural training and help to exchange information and best practices that can be adopted locally.
Secondly, we know that there will be risk and costs for farmers as they transition to regenerative agriculture, so we'll co-invest with them. This might involve providing loans or support with access to funding, or jointly investing in pilot projects with key partners to test and learn as we go on the regeneration journey together.
Thirdly, we'll provide incentives for our farmers through premiums for ingredients that are produced using regenerative agricultural practices. This will reward farmers for the quantity and quality of the materials they produce and for the benefits they provide to the environment through soil protection, water management and carbon sequestration.
The results will include more biodiversity, soil conservation, regeneration of water cycles and integration of livestock.
We'll offer practical and far-reaching support. For instance, dairy and livestock make up about half of Nestlé's agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. To help address that, we're planning to work with 30 dairy farms in 12 countries to test regenerative agricultural practices and demonstrate their impact, so we can find scalable solutions.
We're supporting farming communities through innovative youth programmes, such as a new training platform to attract and train the next generation of farmers. More than 40 000 farmers participating in one of our agripreneurship programmes will learn about regenerative agriculture practices and how to make their farms more resilient to climate change.
We're supporting better, more diversified incomes through our sustainability and new living income programmes for farmers in our value chain to make farming more attractive. Later this year, Nestlé will unveil plans for our coffee and cocoa supply chains.
If we act now, there's still time to make a difference, and here at Nestlé we're determined to do our part. The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time. There is no longer a choice about whether to act, only how and how fast we do it.