Burberry’s Biodiversity Pledge: ‘Part of Being Climate Positive Is Working Beyond Your Own Initiatives’

burberry-biodiversity
Courtesy Burberry

Burberry announces a biodiversity strategy and becomes the first luxury brand to join the LEAF Coalition as part of its sustainability efforts.

Building on its plans to be climate positive by 2040, luxury UK fashion house Burberry has announced a three-pronged biodiversity strategy aimed at reevaluating its animal-based textiles. The label made the announcement as part of COP26.

The move follows a biodiversity baseline assessment the brand completed earlier this year as part of a partnership with The Biodiversity Consultancy.

The Burberry Regeneration Fund

This new focus dives into the viability of animal-based textiles. According to Burberry, the assessment pinpointed leather, wool, and cashmere as having “the most significant impact on biodiversity as well as accounting for a high proportion of Burberry’s carbon footprint.”

More sustainable and recycled or certified fabrics are expected to appear next year, the label said. As well, it’s focused on restoration efforts in areas where it sources from.

Image courtesy Burberry

These biodiversity efforts are buoyed by the Burberry Regeneration Fund, which launched last year to increase the brand’s carbon offsetting projects. It will emphasize projects focused on protecting and restoring nature, the label said.

“It’s about reducing carbon emissions but also restoring nature,” Pam Batty, the company’s vice president, corporate responsibility, said in a statement. According to Batty, it’s important for the brand to focus on biodiversity as well as its climate efforts.

“Everyone now understands net zero targets, because they are measurable and science-based, but the same logic applies to restoring nature. The methodology might not be quite there yet, but we wanted to be part of the conversation. Our process and goals will have to evolve over time, but we couldn’t wait until there were hard standards in place.”

Climate positive

This is part of a shift to a “nature-based” approach to the label’s value chain. This will include a focus on developing “regenerative and holistic land management practices” for grazing or farming systems. Burberry says it will intensify existing efforts around farm-level certifications as well as provide training programs in these communities.

“Part of being climate positive is working beyond your own initiatives,” said Batty. The Regeneration Fund will help to support areas that are in “desperate need” of protection and restoration—whether or not Burberry sources from them, Batty emphasizes.

“Burberry’s biodiversity strategy will not only address impacts in our own extended operations, but also help to create new systems to reduce biodiversity loss in the world’s greatest areas of need, making a meaningful contribution to global conservation efforts,” Dr. Gerry Murphy, chairman of Burberry, said in a statement.

Image courtesy Alenka Skvarc on Unsplash

The label says it will fund projects that apply “nature-based solution principles and guidelines” in partnership with The Biodiversity Consultancy “ensuring natural ecosystems are protected, restored and regenerated.”

“Climate change is not just a future environmental risk, it’s a socio-economic crisis that is impacting millions around the world today,” Murphy said.

“Protecting, restoring, and regenerating nature is key to safeguarding the planet for generations to come, and we must be ambitious in our intentions and action-oriented in our approach.”

The LEAF Coalition

The company has also signed up for the LEAF Coalition (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance) as part of a $1 billion initiative to protect tropical and sub-tropical forests and reduce deforestation. The voluntary global coalition works with private sector and governments to finance forest conservation efforts.

Alongside BlackRock, Walmart, EY, Inditex, Intertek, and SAP, Burberry brings the LEAF coalition’s total number of private sector participants to 19. Other signatories include Amazon, Airbnb, Bayer, Boston Consulting Group, Delta Air Lines, E.ON, GSK, McKinsey, Nestlé, PwC, Salesforce, and Unilever.

The project, which was announced earlier this year earned early support from Norway, the UK, and the US.

“The LEAF Coalition is a groundbreaking example of the scale and type of collaboration that is needed to fight the climate crisis and achieve net-zero emissions globally by 2050,” John Kerry, President Biden’s special presidential envoy for the climate, said in a statement earlier this year.

Image courtesy DEAR on Unsplash

“Bringing together government and private-sector resources is a necessary step in supporting the large-scale efforts that must be mobilized to halt deforestation and begin to restore tropical and subtropical forests.”

LEAF’s first letter of intent sees efforts to launch in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Nepal, and Vietnam.

“The UK is proud to be part of this ambitious coalition that is massively scaling up the amount of finance available to support efforts to stop deforestation, cut global greenhouse gas emissions and put nature on the path to recovery,” UK prime minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“Time is running out to protect our tropical forests from irreversible loss. Communities, livelihoods and endangered species rely on these vast ecosystems. History will not judge us kindly if some of the world’s most precious resources are degraded on our watch, given their crucial role in helping us limit the rise in global temperature.”

Burberry is the first luxury brand to join the LEAF Coalition.

“Nature and the outdoors are the foundation of Burberry’s unique heritage and fundamental to our future,” Murphy said.

“As deforestation continues to pose an unrelenting threat to not only the goals of the Paris Agreement but also our ecosystems and livelihoods, we are proud to be a part of the LEAF Coalition to help protect and restore our natural world.”

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