The accelerating loss of biodiversity is a serious threat to food production. There are huge expectations as leaders from around the world convene for the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 in Montreal, 7–19 December 2022. Valio joins the more than 330 businesses and financial institutions in the Make it Mandatory campaign, calling for the mandatory assessment and disclosure of nature dependencies by large and multinational companies by 2030.
The aim at the COP15 biodiversity conference is to agree on global actions and targets to protect and restore biodiversity. Hanna Hiekkamies, Senior Vice President, Group Sustainability at Valio, believes it is important that the Montreal conference agrees on a common set of rules by which companies assess their nature impacts.
“It is important for us to participate in the Make it Mandatory campaign because we can impact biodiversity through collaboration. Along with other companies, we are calling for the mandatory reporting of nature dependencies by large and multinational companies by 2030. Valio already reports the nature impacts of milk production in its Sustainability Report, and we have created a biodiversity roadmap that compiles individual actions into a target-oriented package,” Hiekkamies says.
Food production is entirely dependent on nature and its biodiversity. A loss of biodiversity undermines functions necessary for agriculture, like pollination and water and nitrogen cycling. To ensure the continuity of farming, we must stop the weakening of biodiversity.
“We recognise our own impacts on nature. In fact, our key task is to increase biodiversity and to reduce the adverse impacts of our operations. In milk production, the nutrient load and the use of pesticides weaken biodiversity. But milk production also has many positive impacts in terms of nature. Continued grazing is vital for the conservation of biotypes and species in traditional habitats. And recycling manure nutrients can replace artificial fertilisers,” she adds.
Strengthening biodiversity is an integral part of Valio’s climate programme, which aims to cut milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035. Valio has created a biodiversity roadmap that charts the path towards increasingly biodiverse farming.
“The new sustainability programme we are launching for milk producers in May 2023 will give farmers a sustainability bonus for strengthening biodiversity and for farm-level actions that mitigate climate change. Animal welfare continues to be an important part of our programme. The focus there is particularly on increasing grazing and the year-round pasturing of cows. Grazing maintains special habitats that benefit also endangered species,” says Hiekkamies.