Mars renews its commitment to Earth

Candy, food, drink, and pet care giant's communications leader explains why the privately owned company overcame its natural reserve to influence the global debate on sustainability and climate change.

Mars launched its M&M’s Fans of Wind campaign in New York last week.
Mars launched its M&M’s Fans of Wind campaign in New York last week.

Over the past few weeks, the world has heard more from Mars - the company - than ever before.

Best known for our brands, such as M&M’s, we tended to let them do the talking. As a private, family owned company, we focused on running our business without the need for fanfare and proclamations. When it comes to sustainability, we’ve been content to let our actions speak louder than our words.

In recent weeks we have taken a different approach, because we see the scale of the challenge we collectively must overcome and the opportunity for business to find its voice on these issues.

At the start of September, we unveiled our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, our commitment to invest almost $1 billion over the next few years to tackle urgent threats facing the planet, including climate change, poverty in the supply chain, and scarcity of resources.

Last week, as the world’s leading policymakers, NGOs and business leaders gathered in New York for Climate Week and the United Nations General Assembly, we spent time reiterating and reinforcing our position in order to drive the change that needs to happen now to address these critical challenges and secure the future of the planet.

If you can’t find your voice when the health of the planet it at risk, when can you?

Speaking out at a time like this is critical because we appreciate the role business has to play in driving change at scale. That’s why our Sustainable in a Generation Plan focuses on areas where Mars can impact change on some of the world’s biggest problems, including water security, deforestation, smallholder poverty, and food security.

We also know that, increasingly, our consumers care about these issues as much as we do, which is why our M&M’s Fans of Wind campaign - launched in New York last week - has been a key element of our approach as a way of reaching consumers with a simple message around the positive benefits of renewable energy.

Ultimately, this isn’t just about doing our part or doing incrementally better, it’s about doing what is right and being guided by the science and data on the change that needs to happen.

We’ve been very clear we cannot do this alone. We know we need to play our part to mobilize the widest possible range of stakeholders to drive change at scale.

Last week, Mars leaders were involved in over 70 meetings and events with governmental leaders, policymakers, officials, business peers, and NGOs. Our engagement involved our chairman Stephen Badger, board member Frank Mars, and three members of our Mars leadership team, as well as number of our other global leaders.

We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Fund for Agricultural Development to support projects designed to improve the livelihoods and economic opportunities of smallholder farmers.

We partnered with Project Everyone to bring Global Goals M&M’s to thousands of people at events in New York. Our Thriving People workshop asked NGOs and civil society to scrutinize and critique our work and tell us what we need to do better and how they can help.

Our sustainability experts hosted Facebook Live chats to reach a digital audience, including many of our 100,000 associates worldwide. The launch of our M&M’s Fans of Wind campaign in Times Square and M&M’s World asked consumers to get on board by pledging their support for renewable energy.

And it does not end here.

Stepping forward so publicly does not necessarily come naturally for Mars, but it does give us a better chance of building the coalitions the world needs to deliver on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, and to create an understanding of how important it is for business to stand up and be counted on these critical issues.

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