In over five years of penning the Future Trends Blog, your author has been privileged to meet with some incredibly interesting and influential people. One who ticks both these boxes is Thomas Vellacott, the Chief Executive of WWF Switzerland. The World Wildlife Fund is the leading organisation in wildlife conservation and endangered species. What his organisation does is integral to how many of the future trends we regularly discuss and then invest in – from cloud to wind and fish to chips – evolve.

The move towards net zero is happening, “but not quickly enough”, according to Thomas. Against this background, the role of the WWF is to “help provide tools.” Through a combination of convening, campaigning and cooperation, the Fund seeks to accelerate progress. The former can involve the setting of initial standards. Examples would include the Science Based Targets initiative or the Forest Stewardship Council. The WWF will also publish detailed industry reports and analysis of their supply chains as part of its campaigning work, as well as working separately with over 200 companies. Cooperation typically takes the form of bilateral agreements with businesses that are willing to “push the envelope” in terms of sustainable innovation.

The partnership between SIG and the WWF is one of the best examples of recent cooperation. We have made the case for reducing plastic waste and introducing more sustainable packaging solutions since 2018. The agreement between the WWF and SIG – a leading provider of aseptic cartons – helps build resilient forest ecosystems globally by strengthening and expanding sustainable forest management, protection and landscape restoration. Work is already underway to help secure a landscape of 100,000 hectares in Mexico that serves as a critical jaguar habitat. Further projects look set to follow.

For the WWF, businesses such as SIG (and others with whom it has partnered in different areas, such as Carrefour and HSBC) are “part of the solution.” Sustainability initiatives tend to be typically led from the top, with full buy-in across the corporate C-suite and Board. There is a compelling logic, with which we concur, for both a “suits and boots” approach to saving the world: reduce carbon and protect wildlife both through direct action and Boardroom influence. “Every little bit helps”, we were told. 

8 February 2024

The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Heptagon Capital is an investor in SIG Combibloc. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.

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Alex Gunz, Fund Manager     

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