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Why sustainability is more important to pharmaceutical companies now more than ever

Article-Why sustainability is more important to pharmaceutical companies now more than ever

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Looking at the importance of sustainability, and how it's critical for pharmaceutical companies to deliver for the community - providing better outcomes for both patients and the environment in which they operate.

Now more than ever, sustainability is critical to our operating business landscapes. 78 per cent of consumers have expressed that they want pharmaceutical companies to deliver further CSR activities. 

A strong purpose is at the heart of all our ongoing efforts in healthcare as businesses. It holds us accountable to our commitments towards our communities.  At Bayer, we are guided by our purpose “Science for a better life,” to deliver breakthrough innovations in the field of health and nutrition. Our vision “Health for all, Hunger for none” articulates what we constantly strive to achieve.  Our purpose and vision are key to what we do at Bayer, but they are meaningless if they are not followed by tangible actions to create long-term change and societal progress. 

This vital approach to our industry is a major step toward breaking the cycle of poverty and conserving our environments – both for individuals and for the countries where they live. To achieve this, we must stay committed to innovation in healthcare.  

Creating a long-lasting impact for our environment and why it matters 

Access to enhanced healthcare has significant implications for local communities. Better healthcare is proven to improve attendance and performance in schools, enhance economic conditions and productivity, and reduce overall healthcare and living costs.  

At least half the world’s population currently has no access to basic health services. By investing in health and well-being services, we are making an important contribution to even improving the health, rights and economic status of our people, no matter where they are in the world. This is a fundamental basis for greater equality, education, and prosperity for all. Contributing to sustainable development is a core element of Bayer’s corporate strategy and of our core values. In this context, we have defined clear targets for our businesses that we are aiming to achieve by 2030, in line with the UN SDGs.  

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Henrik Wulff, Managing Director, Senior Bayer Representative and Head of Pharmaceuticals at Bayer Middle East FZ 

The global commitment to carbon reduction 

Climate change also affects us all and is one of the greatest challenges that humankind will face in the future. Bayer considers climate protection and the related reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to be a top priority. We anticipate that our business areas of healthcare and agriculture will be impacted by climate change but will also be part of the solution. Globally, the company is aiming to become carbon-neutral in its own operations by 2030.  

To accomplish this, Bayer is committed to mitigate climate change and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement. We have set ourselves a Science Based Target to decarbonize and a net zero target including our supply chain for 2050. We are looking to achieve this with an absolute reduction of 42 percent in our emissions (scope 1 and 2) by 2030. We included making our own sites climate-neutral in our Group targets to be met by 2030. To achieve this, we are about to implement a number of measures focusing on energy efficiency, energy sources, offsetting and the value chain. Between 2020 and 2030, we will be investing EUR 500 million to improve energy efficiency in our own plants. 

By 2030, the remaining emissions will be fully offset by purchasing certificates from verified climate protection projects, especially in the areas of forest conservation and agriculture. When selecting projects, we pay particular attention to ensuring they enable long-term CO2 capture (permanence) and would not take place without the sale of certificates (additionality). Furthermore, we have introduced additional in-house quality requirements, such as certifying projects according to internationally recognized standards. 

The world we live in and the current social sustainability landscape in the Middle East 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the unprecedented challenges of our time, challenging livelihoods, and the health of millions globally. In the Middle East, we have seen in Lebanon an increased problem of escalation of infection rates amid the crippling economic crisis. The Lebanese community is already facing several socio-economic challenges following the 2020 Beirut blast and civil unrest.    

We are working with partners to revolutionize the standard of healthcare. We have engaged with Sonaa El Kheir and the German Red Cross – non-profit charitable organizations – to realize the goal of transforming lives. Through these various initiatives in 2020-2021, we were able to reach out to vulnerable communities across Egypt and Lebanon with various public health services, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and immediate response COVID-19 protection packs, in time of dire need with the onset of the pandemic. The program targeted around 850,000 people, encompassing some of the most vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian communities.  

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to support an organization such as the Red Cross. Through them, we are able to leverage regional cooperation, which has been integral during this pandemic to provide necessary public health services in Lebanon. Together we have been able to respond to the current critical health needs to achieve a shared vision of improving public health.   

How healthcare is supporting communities and mitigating exponential population growth 

Societal structure in the Middle East is changing, citizens are moving to cities from more rural areas and the population is growing in size. This is causing immense pressure on local economies and the healthcare systems as new generations emerge, which we need to provide support for.  

Another notable example of this is Egypt, where the population has reached 102,170,000 people, with one birth happening every 14 seconds - the eighth highest birth rate in the world. For this reason, we have recently embarked on a strategic partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Egypt for a Corporate Giving & Sustainability Initiative in the focus area of family planning and reproductive health. In total, the supported program will target in the period of 2021-2025 to provide 200,000 women to receive family planning methods and 300,000 women to be reached with awareness messages and services during the campaign. 

Improving sustainable health for future generations 

A fundamental part of materializing our vision is about enabling and strengthening healthcare in our region involves working to make tangible and sustainable impacts in our communities. Bayer Middle East is honored to play a role in supporting these public health initiatives to help our communities – no matter of their location.  

Today, maybe more than ever before, progress and growth cannot be achieved without sustainable efforts. Our active collaboration with key partners helps us extend our reach and impact while empowering advancement in creating a holistic aid approach, focused on awareness and tangible actions.  We strive to continue our commitment towards playing a vital role in helping our communities improve health states, by embracing opportunities and crafting initiatives that support broader public health efforts.  

Through our targeted initiatives, we are grateful to have the opportunity to assist communities in need across the region, responding to the critical public health needs.  

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