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Rio, reporting, transparency and targets

26 June 2012

This time last week, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development published its final declaration at the Rio+20 summit. The declaration is entitled "The future we want" and it names fighting poverty as one of the most important goals for the future. The text also contains a commitment to an economy that takes a more sustainable approach to the world's resources and sustainability goals set for 2015.

However it has been received with frustration by most and the overall feeling is that governments have missed an opportunity to encourage dramatic gains in resource efficiency to underpin economic growth and development.

This frustration is also shared by some progressive private sector organisations, so it is important that we work quickly post-Rio to solidify some of these timelines and determine concrete actions.

In that respect, Rio+20 has been useful to demonstrate the number of private sector companies that are taking sustainable development seriously. There are still some initiatives that are philanthropic or would be better characterised as CSR but most do now relate to core business. Increasingly this is because, like SABMiller, companies see that sustainability presents opportunities to improve competitiveness, and as integral to the way they do business.

What is good is that three key things are in the text - the importance of valuing natural capital to reduce resource depletion; the importance of transparent corporate reporting on sustainability impact; and the need for clear global Sustainable Development Goals for the post MDG period.

The last two, relating to reporting and goals are particularly pertinent for SABMiller this week, as we publish the 2012 Sustainable Development report, which illustrates the progress we have made over the last year and outlines the key sustainable development issues for our SABMiller businesses in the future. Here a few highlights:

• Since 2008, when we set ourselves the stretching targets to become 25% more water-efficient by 2015 and 50% more carbon-efficient by 2020, to date we've reduced our water consumption by 13% and our carbon emissions by 17%. 

• Our breweries reduced their water consumption and fossil fuel emissions per hectolitre of lager produced by 5% and 10% respectively this year.

• We doubled the reach of our Water Futures partnership this year, extending to four new markets: Colombia, Honduras, India and the USA. Water Futures is an excellent example of a public-private partnership devoted to managing shared water risk and to demonstrating the link between water, food and energy security.

• Our operations directly support around 100,000 farming jobs in Africa. If we achieve our aim to increase the local sourcing of raw materials across Africa to 50% over the next two years, this number will increase to 150,000 according to research by Professor Ethan Kapstein of INSEAD, and other experts.

Publishing the report is not just about corporate governance though; transparency underpins our approach to sustainable development and our wider business activity. The SDR, and the publication of our SAM scores online demonstrates a commitment to being honest with consumers, employees, partners and communities - about areas which need improvement as well as our successes.

For more information, to download the SD Summary Report and to visit the interactive reporting tool, please go to

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