Unilever, the owner of Dove, Marmite and Knorr, is to invest €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) to help reduce the impact of climate change throughout its production and distribution processes.
Working alongside farmers, governments and organisations in the next decade, the climate and nature fund aims to restore forests, soil and biodiversity, with likely projects including reforestation, wildlife protection and water preservation.
The company has also committed to achieving net zero emission by 2039—more than a decade ahead of the 2050 Paris Agreement deadline—as well as a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023.
Unilever had previously pledged to achieve zero carbon emission and half its greenhouse-gas footprint across all products by 2030.
"While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us," Alan Jope, chief executive of Unilever, said.
"Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity – all these issues are interconnected and we must address them all simultaneously. In doing so, we must also recognise that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods.
"We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business and through direct action by our brands."
Currently, 89% of Unilever’s forest-related commodities are certified as sustainably sourced.
While Ben & Jerry’s has already committed to reducing greenhouse emissions from dairy farms, food brand Knorr has been supporting farmers to grow more sustainably.
In an attempt to preserve water, Unilever is also set to join the 2030 Water Resources Group, which aims to improve water management across India, Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam and Indonesia.
In March, Unilever partnered the UK government to jointly commit £100m to encourage people to disinfect surfaces and wash their hands during the coronavirus pandemic.