Sun World International has published its first corporate social responsibility report, setting out its achievements to date and objectives for the next five years.
Benchmarking for the company’s ‘The Better Future Project’ was conducted in 2016 and the programme officially launched on Earth Day in 2017. It is led by a committee of Sun World employees who collaborate with farmworkers, scientists, engineers, non-profit organisations, and municipalities.
“With the publishing of our first corporate social responsibility report, we bring forward an element of transparency in our efforts to work towards a sustainable future,” Sun World CEO Merrill Dibble said.
“The report, which will be released annually, holds us more accountable by publicly tracking the progress to our goals, and gives our stakeholders the opportunity to understand our vision for a better future.”
The report outlines goals targeting achievement by 2022 in three core areas of corporate social responsibility entitled Empowering our People, Protecting our Environment, and Innovating for Sustainability.
With respect to empowering the people of Sun World, the company has set a goal to train at least 2,500 farm workers on skills that support career development and personal wellbeing such as ESL classes, adult education opportunities, financial asset-building courses, and interpersonal communication training.
Sun World also launched a company Safety Programme to actively incentivise safe behaviour in the workplace. The company says each year it has exceeded its goal and achieved workplace illness and injury ratings well below the industry average.
Sun World’s environmental initiatives focus on renewable energy, water conservation and soil and bee health. The company is investing in renewable energy and has set aside land for solar power installations in 2018, aiming to have 10 per cent of its power generated by these on-site energy sources. Water conservation efforts include the development of over 500 acres of groundwater retention ponds, and sourcing 75 per cent of its water from these basins in dry years.
In addition to improving energy and water efficiencies, Sun World is also supporting soil and bee health by planting cover crop and hedgerows on at least 50 per cent of its acreage.
The company said its entire sustainability drive is underpinned by innovation. In addition to incorporating data-driven sustainability benchmarks, measurement, and reporting, future goals include working towards the development of high yielding, proprietary grapes grown with lower inputs and water use. The company is also working to track greenhouse gas impact and water usage.
“The Better Future Project is beginning to shape and mould our culture here at Sun World,” Dibble said. “We are encouraged by our progress so far and look forward to delivering on our set goals.”