The power of collaboration in driving meaningful solutions to climate change
Apr 8, 2024

As the global challenges stemming from climate change become increasingly complex, effective collaboration will be key, whether its with partners, suppliers, or customers, to help lead the path forward.

At 3M, we see partnerships as the cornerstone of our commitment to driving impact in Canada and beyond. Partnerships have played a pivotal role across the breadth of work we do as a global science company, from environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts, to innovation and transformation.

Our partnerships help us work across our supply chains and identify risks to effectively implement new initiatives and policies. They also connect to our values and enable us to build more meaningful solutions, technologies, and innovations that can positively impact communities in the long run. 

3M at #Bloom23: A dialogue on what it means to be effective partners

During the recent Greenbiz Bloom 23 Setting Things Right with Rights-based Conservation panel, 3M’s Global Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Leader, Kate Shelton, dove into the power of collaboration in ensuring that commitments made by organizations are backed by tangible action. She shared insights and outcomes from 3M’s journey implementing the Forest Products Sourcing Policy, including effectively engaging with community partners and Indigenous peoples, and the importance of respecting Indigenous communities’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to proposed developments impacting their lands or resources.

Kate spoke alongside Deeanna Izony, Executive Director of the Tsay Keh Dene Nation, and Juan Carlos Jintiach, Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, who was recently named on the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize shortlist for his work in campaigning for Indigenous rights globally.

Biodiversity is an important component of most corporate sustainability programs today, and being a good partner, both for a corporation and the communities we engage with, starts right from the ideation of conservation strategies all the way through to intervention design and implementation.

Given that local communities and Indigenous Nations continue to protect and steward 80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity, meaningful, culturally inclusive and direct engagement with these rightsholders is the most effective way for corporations to work to conserve ecosystems and make an actual difference.

Here are some of the powerful messages that emerged from the panel discussion:

1. Start small, and scale.

We recognize that our customers, our partners, and the greater Canadian business community at large are taking sustainability very seriously and see being environmentally conscious and socially responsible as just the right thing to do.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action 92 addresses the role the corporate sector can play in the path to reconciliation with First Nations and the importance of building respectful relationships. However, many organizations that want to make an impact simply don’t know where to start. Many are waiting to have all the answers first. But starting is the most important first step for Corporate Canada.

“Start somewhere, start small, take partners, learn along the way, and take those learnings to continue progressing. By sharing our partnership journey, what it has accomplished and what has been learned, can help others learn as well.” - Kate Shelton, Global Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Leader, 3M.

2. Mutual respect is fundamental.

We rely heavily on partners to identify sourcing area risks and take meaningful action to mitigate them. However, the basis of every partnership is trust, and trust is a two-way street that involves both parties finding common ground and understanding for the partnership to result in meaningful outcomes.

“We have done our own work – we know what we have and who we are. When we are invited for our opinion, we need to first understand who is sitting at the table, and to be able to have mutual respect.” – Juan Carlos Jintiach, Executive Secretary, Global Alliance of Territorial Communities.

“When engaging with local communities and Indigenous peoples, it is critical to build trust. This is a journey that takes time and does not happen overnight.” – Kate Shelton, Global Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Leader, 3M.

3. Take the time to build stronger relationships.

With climate change, it is no longer business as usual. As companies change the way we carry out our operations, this also means there is an opportunity to work more collaboratively with our local community and Indigenous partners to ensure that we are taking the time to listen, build relationships with them, and better understand how to move forward in a more culturally inclusive and respectful way.

“Building relationships is key for 3M. Though progress may feel slow at times for both the company and the communities we are working with, at the end of the day, it’s all about listening, building relationships, and building trust.” - Kate Shelton, Global Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Leader, 3M.

The Bloom 23 conference also hosted the short film premiere of Where the Water Meets the Rising Sun, a production by the Tsay Keh Dene Nation, in partnership with Earthworm Foundation.

The film sheds light on the need for greater recognition and preservation of the Ingenika watershed within the Wədzih Yiné’ (Caribou Song) Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) which holds deep ancestral and cultural importance, the importance of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and how companies sourcing pulp and paper products can support Indigenous-led conservation in practice. You can view the complete film here at this link:

Photo credit: Michael Tilson

How 3M is driving change through partnerships

The challenge of climate change continues to be one of the most pressing issues we face today and there has never been a greater need for climate action and innovation.

According to findings from this year’s annual 3M State of Science Index research, 92% of Canadians are concerned about the consequences of climate change, and a further 88% say companies need to accelerate the development and adoption of technologies and innovations that address climate change.

Our actions at 3M begin with a reflection of our values, then taking those values and working with numerous partners who can help determine what kind of policies can be implemented, and then improving and adapting where possible. Positive change is more than just a checkbox – it provides the foundation for the kind of work we do and the partners we look to engage with.

“Actions are stronger than words. When we developed our Forest Product Sourcing Policy, we knew that having a strong due diligence management system and working with partners who shared our values would be fundamental to implementing the policy.” - Kate Shelton, Global Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Leader, 3M.

Kate Shelton (3M), Penny Wise (3M), Madison Vorva (Earthworm Foundation) in conversation with Deeanna Izony, Tsay Keh Dene Nation Executive Director at GreenBiz’s inaugural Bloom Conference.

Some of the partnerships at 3M that are enabling us to create more transformative practices include:

  • As part of the 3M Forest Products Sourcing Policy – 3M works with suppliers around the world to map our global forest product supply chain down to the forest source and evaluate compliance with our policies. This work is carried out with the support of our partner, Earthworm Foundation, innovating in the areas of forest protection and restoration.
  • Alongside Earthworm Foundation Members Mars and Nestlé, we’re supporting the Tsay Keh Dene (TKD) First Nation in British Columbia to protect high conservation value forests in their territory through a jurisdictional landscape approach. As some of the world’s last remaining intact forests, they serve as sources of sustenance, culture, and history for the Nation, as well as critical species habitat and carbon storage.
  • We continually work with suppliers to minimize negative effects on the community, environment, and natural resources while protecting the health and safety of workers and the public. As part of the 3M Supplier Responsibility Code, 3M has set foundational expectations for our suppliers in the areas of Management Systems, Labor, Health and Safety, Environment, and Ethics, as they align with our corporate values for sustainable and responsible operations.

3M is also taking action to engage in dialogue with partners including:

  • 3M Canada has joined the Net-Zero Challenge, supporting the Government of Canada, and affirming their commitment to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • 3M attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, to further this dialogue and address pressing environmental challenges for combatting climate change. COP28 took place from November 30 to December 12, 2023, in Dubai, UAE, in partnership with the UN Climate Change Secretariat.

Partnerships and community engagement will continue to be an integral part of how we at 3M carry out our vision of tackling climate change and improving lives, by finding ways to ensure these engagements are effective, meaningful, and impactful.

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