Building on our report on the impact COVID-19 has had on the sustainability agenda, ESM caught up with a number of industry leaders seeking to drive positive change, including Sara Miranda, Chief Communication and Corporate Responsibility Officer, Jerónimo Martins.
This terrible crisis has made very evident, in the worst possible way, that we are all part of the same human family – interdependencies are to be found everywhere, balances are fragile, nothing can be taken for granted, and we need to rethink our relationship with nature and the planet.
In this sense, it is an opportunity to try to make things better – for instance, by promoting more local production and purchasing, incentivising sustainable agriculture, campaigning for healthier diets and lifestyles that can contribute to stronger immune systems, and bringing more actionable knowledge into our businesses.
At the same time, we need to act on very huge challenges, such as protecting water, taking the fight against deforestation very seriously, fighting plastic pollution, understanding the importance of clean, breathable air and how that depends on sustainable forests and oceans, and engaging with determination on making the vision of a carbon-neutral world happen.
The collective effort to produce a vaccine against the virus in an unprecedented time frame is, in my view, a very powerful and inspiring example of what can be achieved when humans choose to collaborate to face common challenges and pursue shared goals.
Sustainability is embedded in the way we conduct our businesses, and, therefore, our companies have kept momentum on the ongoing projects aimed at making a positive impact. Naturally, in a crisis with such an impact on people’s health and the economic and social situation, the projects that are more directly people-oriented (both internal and external stakeholders) have been particularly relevant.
In both Portugal and Poland, our banners have reinforced their support to national producers, including regional ones, by increasing the purchase of and strongly promoting perishables that were particularly affected by the decrease in consumption, and also by making shelf space available to help outflow production.
The truth is, there are no perfect formulas or easy solutions, and sometimes this is not the most attractive message to those in search of ‘quick wins’. We have been investing a lot in spreading knowledge and fact-based sustainability information in traditional communication channels, and also in the most relevant social media, where our banners are present.
About a year ago, the group developed ‘Be the Story’, a storytelling website focused on sustainability issues.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.