The French conglomerate, which owns luxury boilerplates such as Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton, announced new plans late last month to create a “positive net contribution to biodiversity” worldwide.
LVMH will be working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere program, an initiative to combat deforestation in the Amazon, to deploy regenerative agriculture techniques, with the goal of rehabilitating 5 million hectares of habitat “for flora and fauna” by 2030.
The program will earmark 5 million euros ($5.8 million) over five years to “address the origins” of deforestation and water pollution in the Amazon Basin by combining eight biosphere reserves in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. Special focus will be paid, LVMH said, on improving the sites’ fire management, rehabilitating degraded lands and creating “sustainable employment” and alternative sources of income for local communities that do not involve deforestation.
“Luxury is at the intersection of nature and creativity: we need nature in order to craft our high-quality products, and nature must be renewed and safeguarded,” Antoine Arnault, head of image, communications and environment at LVMH, said in a statement. “As the world leader in luxury, LVMH has committed to making the protection of biodiversity an absolute priority, and to being an exemplary actor of change–audacious, creative and demanding in building a more sustainable future.”
The “Act for Biodiversity” partnership with UNESCO, he added, forms a “key pillar” of the company’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint through “creative opportunities” rather than “fresh limitations.”
The initiative enables LVMH to “challenge the norms, to have a positive and lasting impact beyond our supply chain, and to demonstrate that it is possible to reconcile economic development and protection of nature,” Arnault said.
One of the key objectives of LVMH’s biodiversity strategy is to establish a “clear and precise” measurement of the conglomerate’s impact using third-party tools such as CDC Biodiversité’s Global Biodiversity Score, which measures how a company’s economic activities across its value chain affect biodiversity.
LVMH will also plot further actions using a “frame of reference” defined by Science Based Targets for Nature, a new challenge for corporations that builds on the success of Science Based Targets for climate emissions but centers on biodiversity goals.
The company says it’s committed to eschewing raw materials from deforestation or desertification hot spots. By 2026, LVMH will release certification systems corresponding to the “most rigorous standards” of biodiversity-related criteria and apply them across its strategic supply network.
By 2030, LVMH says it will complete the rollout of regenerative agriculture programs for strategic agricultural raw materials such as grapes, cotton, wool and leather with the backing of Stella McCartney, in which LVMH has a majority stake. It will also continue to contribute to programs that regenerate ecosystems and preserve endangered plant and animal species, such as black bees in Brittany, France, and the Leadbeater’s possum and helmeted honeyeater in Australia, it said.
Animal welfare is another priority issue for “Act for Biodiversity,” which sets a deadline of 2026 for the “full deployment” of standards and best practices defined by LVMH’s 2019 charter on animal welfare in the procurement of raw materials.
“For half a century, UNESCO has been a pioneer in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,” said Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO. “The UNESCO world network of biosphere reserves already numbers more than 700 sites of experimentation and sustainable solutions. By itself, this network already represents more than 5 percent of the Earth’s surface. Marking the 50th anniversary of this program, our partnership with the LVMH Group is a concrete way of bringing this accumulated experience to fruition.”
Biodiversity has of late become a hot-button issue, especially among fashion brands that have already touted climate-change targets but want to lean further into sustainability. Luxury companies, in particular, rely on teeming, vibrant ecosystems for mining many of their prized raw materials, which are increasingly under attack by the effects of extreme temperatures and other hallmarks of climate change.
As a result, the two concepts often go hand in hand: Last month, the Fashion Pact, a multi-stakeholder agreement backed by Adidas, Chanel, H&M, Nike, Prada, and Hermès, linked arms with Conservation International to launch a $2-million initiative to minimize land-use change, pollution and natural resources extraction.
The effort, which will develop and share best practices to “clean [up] supply chains, improve agricultural practices, decrease deforestation and support livelihoods,” will craft a roadmap for the Fashion Pact’s 60-plus signatories to help them create “positive environmental change” across the supply chains for cashmere, leather, gold and more.
Conservation International also recently partnered with luxury parent Kering to roll out the Regenerative Fund for Nature, a grant-administering vehicle that aims to transition 1 million hectares of current crop and rangeland to regenerative farming practices over the next five years.
“We want to reframe fashion’s relationship to nature,” Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs at Kering, said at the time. “It’s important to have the vision, the strategy and the action plan, but it’s also important to have the operational tools to support the transition.”
Last September, H&M unveiled a four-year non-earmarked financial contribution to the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, an independent body comprising 137 member governments that examines policies related to biodiversity and sustainable development.
“As the global fashion retailer that we are, and with the ambition that we have—to become climate positive by 2040—we have a big role to play by leading by example and inspiring others to address both climate change and biodiversity,” CEO Helena Helmersson said of the unspecified amount, which she said will help tackle biodiversity loss and the climate crisis. “We must take responsibility for our future together.”