PARIS — The IUCN World Conservation Congress, being held in Marseille, France, from Sept. 3 to 11, is uniting leading luxury companies, such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering, in announcing new initiatives.
At the congress, LVMH and UNESCO are joining forces again to protect biodiversity within the scope of the Man and Biosphere intergovernmental program. Antoine Arnault, head of image and environment at the French luxury group, and Audrey Azoulay, director general of UNESCO, will discuss the MAB actions during the opening ceremony and CEO summit, both held on Sept. 3.
Arnault will take part in a panel to discuss the topic “Enabling a Nature-Positive Future” alongside executives such as Alexandre Ricard, chairman and chief executive officer of Pernod Ricard, and Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, president of the Mouvement des entreprises de France.
LVMH and its houses, along with UNESCO, are hosting a pavilion to present their initiatives at the congress. It’s divided into four areas, which highlight the LVMH-UNESCO partnership, which began in 2019; the work they’ve done to expedite solutions to manage natural resources sustainably; how they are taking concrete steps to ensure sustainable practices and balance biodiversity’s conservation with a sustainable use of resources, and their creation of new tools to conserve the planet and help people to better understand and respect other species.
LVMH is the sole private sector partner of MAB, which beyond the preservation of protected zones, sets out to establish best practices for sustainable development to help reach the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
UNESCO aims to enable humans to live in harmony with nature, which is in line with LVMH’s ambition to create a “new luxury” that allies nature and creativity, the company said in a statement on Friday. This includes a joint, five-year initiative, with 5 million euros in funding, to fight deforestation in Amazonia.
Through 2030, LVMH is rolling out regenerative programs for agricultural raw materials, including grapes, cotton, wool and leather. The company is also contributing to efforts to regenerate ecosystems and protect animal and plant species that are endangered — all part of the LVMH Initiatives for the Environment program, which sets targets for 2023, 2026 and 2030.
“Protecting natural ecosystems has always been an essential priority for LVMH, whose activities depend largely on natural raw materials, from flowers, grapes and cotton to leather and precious gemstones. The environmental policy first articulated by LVMH 27 years ago reflects this priority. The ‘ACT for Biodiversity’ partnership with UNESCO is a pillar that allows us to challenge the status quo and have a positive, long-term impact beyond our own supply chain to show that it is indeed possible to reconcile economic development and protecting nature,” said Arnault in the statement.
“We need to create new relationships with other living species. The partnership between UNESCO and LVMH aims to show that it is possible to balance economic development and protection of biodiversity without waiting,” continued Azoulay.
On Sept. 1, Arnault penned an op-ed piece in Les Echos newspaper, in which he wrote: “Every stakeholder, whether institutional or political, will benefit from calculating the natural capital they can borrow without exceeding global limits. To do this, we need to learn new ways to measure impact on biodiversity and soils. This is possible by partnering with recognized leaders in this area, as we have done with AgroParisTech or the WWF, for example — and by applying authoritative frameworks, such as those established by the Science-Based Targets for Nature program or the Global Biodiversity Score of the Caisse des Dépôts Biodiversité.”
He added: “We must be exemplary and lead the way by creating products whose exceptional quality also applies to environmental aspects.”
Arnault wrote: “Protecting biodiversity also requires funding. Philanthropy must target nature, as well, promoting what one might term ‘biosphere-philia.’”
Also on Friday morning, Kering and Conservation International, the American nonprofit environmental organization, revealed the first grantees for the Regenerative Fund for Nature, which the groups jointly launched in January.
Kering’s chief sustainability officer Marie-Claire Daveu was scheduled to talk about the news later in the day during the IUCN World Conservation Congress.
The first funding round concentrates on projects helping the conversion of 1 million hectares of land to regenerative practices in fashion and luxury’s cotton, wool, cashmere and leather supply chains.
Applications for the fund were evaluated on how they sync with the fund’s objectives, important environmental indicators, opportunities to scale the regenerative programs and potential for breaking new ground, Kering and Conservation International explained together in a statement. Scientific analysis led to identifying key focus regions to optimize opportunities for good results concerning climate, nature and livelihoods through the luxury and fashion’s supply chains.
Seventy-three organizations applied from 17 countries. The chosen grantees hailed from South America, Central Asia, India, Europe and Africa.
The fund’s first recipients will initially support more than 840,000 hectares changing over to regenerative approaches that directly benefit 60,000 people involved in small- and larger-scale farming systems.
The seven organizations awarded grants include:
• The Good Growth Company, whose toolkit supports new approaches to building sustainable supply chains and grazing practices. The group partners with cashmere goat herders in Mongolia.
• Organic Cotton Accelerator, which focuses on cotton farmers in India and aiding them to de-risk change through targeted payments. That involves 50,000 smallholder farmers.
• Fundación Solidaridad Latinoamericana, an organization working with indigenous smallholder cattle producers in Argentina’s Gran Chaco biome to better sustainable management of grazing lands and restoring native forests and vegetation.
• Fundación Global Nature, which works with goat shepherds in Spain to reinstate traditional grazing systems and regenerate 17,000 hectares.
• Wildlife Conservation Society and The Wildlife-Friendly Enterprise Network, centered on regenerative grazing and holistic management approaches with wildlife-friendly practices for sheep wool production in Patagonia.
• Epiterre, focused on increasing plant diversity for positive ecological and social changes in Southwestern France. It uses direct payments for small-scale producers.
• Conservation South America, which aims to implement regenerative agricultural practices pertaining to biodiversity in the Maluti Drakensberg Mountains. The group also helps to empower female sheep farmers.
“Global change always begins at the local level, which is why we’re excited to support grassroots conservation efforts on four continents with Kering under the Regenerative Fund for Nature,” said M. Sanjayan, chief executive officer of Conservation International, in the statement. “We know that the path to a sustainable, nature-positive future must include indigenous peoples and local communities, so as we move into the next phase of the fund, progress will be continually monitored together with Kering to ensure that initiatives are delivering measurable outcomes for the environment, and just as critically, for local livelihoods.”
“This next phase of our Regenerative Fund for Nature’s rollout is integral to the attainment of Kering’s goal to have a net positive impact on biodiversity by 2025,” said Daveu, in the statement. “We had a tremendous response, and the first grantees were selected from excellent proposals, showing both the appetite and the opportunity to scale regenerative farming practices globally. We are exploring and leveraging different actions to support further projects under the fund that will maximize a positive impact on biodiversity restoration in luxury and fashion’s supply chains.”
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