1. Inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected and need to be addressed as such
Climate and biodiversity are inextricably connected with human futures. The combined effects of unprecedented climate change and biodiversity loss perpetuate inequality, threatening the lives, livelihoods, and well-being of people worldwide. It is estimated that current negative trends in climate and biodiversity will undermine progress toward 80% of the assessed targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and land. None of these issues can be successfully resolved unless they are tackled together, as also acknowledged in the recent biodiversity agreement reached at the COP15 meeting in Montreal.
It is against this backdrop that Neste designed its sustainability vision, stretching across four areas: climate, biodiversity, human rights, and supply chain & raw materials. Launched in 2021, this vision identifies growing inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss as interconnected issues. It includes ambitious targets for human rights, with an overarching ambition to create a more equitable and inclusive value chain by 2030, in which everyone works with dignity. The four priority areas for action under this 2030 human rights ambition are living wages, children’s rights, responsible recruitment and inequality.
2. Transformation is necessary, but we need to ensure that our transition to a carbon-neutral world leaves no one behind
The decarbonization of our global economy will only succeed if climate justice includes solutions for workers and communities that are underpinned by respect for human rights. This requires ensuring that the global transition to a low-carbon economy is a just transition as envisaged by the Paris Agreement, one which engages workers, delivers green and decent jobs, and creates resilient communities where everyone can thrive.
At Neste, future readiness means delivering on our climate commitments to lead the transformation towards carbon-neutral production by 2035 and a carbon-neutral value chain by 2040. Our transformation journey started over a decade ago when we pivoted from being a regional oil refiner into a global leader in renewable and circular solutions. We are now moving into the next phase of this transformation, having launched a strategic study on transitioning our Porvoo refinery in Finland into a renewable and circular site and ending crude oil refining in the mid-2030s.
We recognize the importance of not leaving anyone behind in achieving this transformation. This requires anticipating the impacts of decarbonization on our workers and communities, preparing our employees for new roles needed in the transformation through individual competence development, and developing organizational leadership practices that support change management. We promote a people-first approach in our just transition planning, underpinned by our commitments to respect human rights, promote decent work, and address inequalities across the value chain.
3. Collaboration is key
Growing inequality, climate change, and biodiversity loss are among the most significant challenges we face today as a global community. To reduce inequality, we must understand its causes and consequences, which are complex and deeply rooted in social, economic, political and environmental systems and resources. Governments have a central role to play in the way they allocate political power, provide public services, and regulate markets. The private sector plays a critical role in the opportunities that companies generate for innovation, value creation and distribution. None of us can do this alone, but we can collectively enhance our muscle, reach, and ability to succeed through partnerships and collaboration.
We don’t have all the answers yet, and a range of solutions are needed. This means we need to be bold and challenge ourselves to work with new partners who are not afraid to try different approaches and push the boundaries for what is possible. For these reasons, Neste has become an active member of the WBCSD Business Commission to Tackle Inequality (BCTI), which provides a common agenda for companies to take action, rooted in respect for human rights and a commitment to equity and social justice. In 2023, we will continue working with our BCTI partners in cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration, to mobilize the private sector and drive greater levels of business attention to address inequality as part of sustainable growth. By working together, we can reduce inequality and create a more sustainable future in which all human beings can live with dignity, reach their full potential and thrive in a healthy environment.
Read more about Neste’s human rights work.