PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is strengthening its commitment to protecting biodiversity.
The luxury group has signed a five-year partnership with UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to support its Man and Biosphere program.
Launched in 1971, the intergovernmental scientific program aims to safeguard biodiversity across the planet by providing a scientific basis for the improvement of the overall relationship between people and the environment.
These objective assessments build the necessary framework for countries to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, aiming to improve issues such as poverty, hunger, sanitation, health, equality and climate by 2030.
Starting today, LVMH will be present alongside UNESCO to support the organization at international events over the next two years, including the Conference of the Parties, or COP-15, to the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in November 2020 in Kunming, China.
“We have the expertise, knowledge and commitment to slow the erosion of biodiversity, and together we must take action for our planet and for future generations,” said Audrey Azoulay, general director of UNESCO, in a statement.
“We look forward to this partnership with LVMH to preserve biodiversity and our environmental heritage, and we are extremely pleased to receive support on this essential issue from a group with a powerful international footprint,” she continued.
The Man and Biosphere program will also help LVMH advance on questions of sourcing thanks to its network of 686 biosphere reserves, spanning 4.7 million miles over 122 countries, and adjoining scientific expertise.
“We chose UNESCO because of what this organization represents in terms of the preservation of our heritage, and above all for the scientific reputation of its Man and Biosphere program,” LVMH board member Antoine Arnault told WWD.
“We are relying on UNESCO and its Man and Biosphere program to bring us scientific knowledge in multiple domains around our supply chains,” he continued.
“This intergovernmental scheme will help us establish a scientific basis able to concretely improve relations between people and nature, which will allow us to work on biodiversity, culture and savoir-faire all at the same time. Thanks to UNESCO’s worldwide implantation, we will be able to work with them directly on the ground.”
With the help of the UNESCO network of experts, LVMH is planning an exhaustive review of the biosphere reserves the LVMH brands depend on, and will steer research for new products and markets in the direction of sustainable resource management and traceability.
“We’re aiming to implement environmental actions in these areas, including innovative solutions, so as to preserve biodiversity from its fragility, which has been proven by different reports worldwide,” continued Arnault.
These include both areas where actions are already in place, such the Ouessant Island in Brittany, France, where Guerlain has been supporting the Brittany Black Bee Conservatory since 2014, and regions where certain species remain in peril. Among these is the Tonlé Sap lake in Cambodia, which was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997, where abusive water snake fishing has become a threat to Southeast Asia’s largest lake.
LVMH has also pledged to contribute to scientific projects led by the Man and Biosphere program and will help establish future pilot sites for conservation and long-term protection of biodiversity.
The signing of the partnership comes a few weeks after the adoption of the first intergovernmental biodiversity report at the end of the seventh plenary session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which was held in Paris from April 29 to May 4.
“Reconciling with nature is the way to ensure our survival,” Azoulay said in a statement following the adoption of the report. “After this historical adoption, no one will be able to claim their ignorance any longer. Protecting biodiversity is as vital as fighting against climate change. Protecting biodiversity is protecting humanity.”
For LVMH, this new step toward environmental protection is in line with the luxury group’s environmental targets, set out in its LIFE program issued in 2012.
These center around four pillars — products; sourcing and supply chain; carbon dioxide, and sites — and include reducing CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2020, compared with the 2013 baseline, and improving environmental performance indicators such as water and energy consumption by at least 10 percent for all production and administrative sites as well as LVMH stores.
In 2014, LVMH joined the board of directors of France’s Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité, or Foundation for Research on Biodiversity, a scientific cooperation aiming to promote national, European and international research on biodiversity.