Sustainability Manager

Sophie Winter also sees sustainability as an opportunity for KWS.

Measurable and transparent

“More than just protecting the environment”

Thinking, living and acting with sustainability in mind – what does that actually mean for us at KWS? Our current challenge is the need to make sustainability measurable and transparent. That’s a job for Sophie Winter, Corporate Sustainability Manager, and her colleagues.

A “translator for sustainability” is how you might describe Sophie Winter’s work. She pools requirements and stipulations relating to the subject in order to translate and implement them for KWS. That demands research and an eye for detail, since requirements and regulations are currently coming at us from many sides and at a rapid pace. And the stipulations are also accompanied by questions about the statements and data we furnish in relation to sustainability.

However, it’s not that easy to give a valid answer. It’s difficult to collect meaningful data for many sustainability projects and topics as it does not yet exist in the required form. Yet transparent statements are important. “Thinking and working in terms of sustainability has become vital to long-term corporate success. As an international company, we are aware of this responsibility, yet also see it as an opportunity to implement topics particularly well in order to stand apart from other companies,” says Sophie.

Precise data helps us document and present our sustainability activities, but it also shows us exactly where we stand in terms of implementation. “It’s not just banks and investors who are looking more and more closely at our initiatives. We also get a lot of questions from our customers and business partners on the subject and we then need to have our key figures at hand.”

Sustainability is an
extremely broad field.”

Sophie Winter

Defining the right focus

As part of her job, Sophie is working to make KWS’ statements on the issue of sustainability even more insightful. The aim now is to define and measure key performance indicators and derive plans for strategic decisions that also strengthen our business activities. Her work is very multi-faceted: “Of course, we look at all the issues and then decide how to tackle them: How do we want to position or strategically align our company in this context in a way that is consistent with our values, goals and strategy. What is our focus and what are the projects we want to launch?”

“Sustainability is more than just protecting the environment and is an extremely broad field. It also covers social and governance issues, i.e. how KWS can assume responsibility not only for our employees, but for society, too.”

That also includes KWS’ new Human Rights Policy. It sets out our clear position on relevant human rights issues such as child labor and forced labor. That is highly important as regards our industry and supply chains.

We can prove our commitment to sustainability with precise data.

Action backed by proof

„When it comes to sustainability in particular, there are accusations that many companies present themselves in a positive light, but don’t implement concrete projects and processes,” says Sophie. “In order to remain authentic, it is therefore increasingly important for us to be able to back up our statements with new processes or data, especially toward external stakeholders such as auditors. Our initiatives must therefore be clear and comprehensible, and the information we publish must match that.

Sustainability isn’t just a duty, but an opportunity – and Sophie’s work is predicated on that belief. In order to implement sustainability issues not just piecemeal, but holistically, we have to grasp sustainability as an overall task for KWS. Sophie therefore also assumes responsibility for managing cross-departmental projects, for example when it comes to implementing the EU’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. However, she is also often asked by colleagues for her assessment or support.

Concrete decisions on sustainability at KWS are waiting in the wings. To ensure that we achieve our ambitious climate targets, for example, our natural gas supply will be converted completely to biogas from 2027 – making us a pioneer in the industry. A new materiality analysis is also being conducted together with the Executive Board and will determine which sustainability topics KWS intends to focus on in particular in the future. “Water, for example, is an important issue moving ahead. As a limited resource and vital raw material, water is ultimately also the basis for growing plants,” explains Sophie. “In view of climate change, we’re also thinking about new concepts for using water.”

The sustainability issues for KWS are very diverse. True to our corporate vision “Seeding the future for generations,” Sophie wants to help us act as a company in harmony with the environment and society. “I’m also happy to help colleagues implement new sustainability stipulations in their concrete day-to-day work,” she says. Due to increasingly extreme weather conditions and climate change, we have a special responsibility we can make an important contribution to environmental protection and food security with our products.” |

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