In a first for African retail, the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) and Woolworths have announced a broad-based, multifaceted partnership to drive greater sustainability through selected Woolworths products and operations.
The collaboration is timely, reflecting a trend that recognises that the private sector and the non-governmental sector can work together on common interests.
The three year partnership aims to achieve conservation outcomes by helping Woolworths suppliers to produce more sustainable products and creating awareness about these products among Woolworths customers.
The partnership recognises the growing congruence between WWF-SA and Woolworths interests in, among others:
- conserving energy
- freshwater ecosystems
- promoting sustainable agricultural practices
- protecting fish stocks
This partnership brings together significant technical expertise, research capabilities, industry insights and networks. Woolworths will work with its suppliers on targets in its dairy, beef, seafood and textiles operations as well as furthering its carbon and water efficiency strategies.
Broader opportunities for lower footprints
WWF-SA will be addressing its priorities of meeting the challenge of transforming the food and fibre production system to ensure sustainable production as well as exploring broader opportunities for low footprint business operations.
The two partners have been working together to protect ecosystems. This involved collaboration on Woolworths successful sustainable agricultural programme, Farming for the Future, and WWF-SA’s sustainable fishing initiative (SASSI).
Woolworths close relationship with suppliers, and the tight control it has through the entire value chain through the development of its predominantly private label products, is a unique opportunity to influence how food and clothing are produced more sustainably.
Commenting on the partnership, Justin Smith, Woolworths Head of Sustainability, says: “One of the things we’ve learnt since we launched our Good Business Journey in 2007 is that, together with customers, suppliers and business partners, we can deliver greater sustainability, to benefit both the environment and the people we support through our business. Partnerships have helped us achieve 80% of the 5 year targets we set in 2007.”
From seafood to all things green
“WWF-SA has already been a key adviser to our seafood and fresh produce departments. We are very excited about this new agreement and we look forward to engaging with them on a wider range of areas across our business. Beyond their expertise, we value WWF-SA’s objectivity, results-driven approach and willingness to give us constructive criticism.”
Tatjana von Bormann, Market Transformation Manager for WWF-SA, added: “This partnership with Woolworths is a key achievement aligned with our strategic goal of creating green economies. It forms part of our Sustainable Business initiative where we work with influential companies and their value chains to improve the way products are produced, processed and consumed.”
“Through this partnership Woolworths opens itself up to holistic accountability and transparency on every level of its Good Business Journey. It’s a bold move in which they are leading the charge for sustainable retail in South Africa and on the African continent as a whole,” von Bormann concluded.