In alignment with the spirit of the first UN Summit on the SDGs: Gearing up for a decade of action and delivery for sustainable development, in 2019 we established a working group to prioritise the SDGs most relevant to our business and develop related action plans. As set out below, we have identified seven global priority SDGs where we can make the biggest contribution, either by reducing our negative impacts or increasing our positive contributions. In South Africa, we have also identified SDG1: No poverty and SDG4: Quality education as priorities. Further detail is provided in our group and regional sustainability reports, available on www.sappi.com.

SDG What does this goal mean to Sappi?   How are we translating the goal into action?

Water is an essential natural resource on which our company depends. We need to use it responsibly and demonstrate that we take this responsibility seriously. Water quality, availability and access are critical issues impacting sustainable development, but the diversity and severity of water issues vary widely between regions, countries and/or specific locations.


We have proposed a global indicator that will focus on water consumption as measured by water-use efficiency (m3/adt). It will only apply to Sappi mills in water-scarce locations. Across all our mills, the topic of water stewardship will be embedded to ensure we take a proactive and responsible approach to managing water issues holistically, even in locations not considered water scarce.

As an energy-intensive industry, our fuel choices have a major impact. Where SDG 13 focuses more directly on CO2 emissions, the point of relevance for this goal is explicitly the share of renewable energy within our total energy consumption. The proposed indicators should help to profile our progress as well as encourage us to continually improve and look for new energy solutions. A reduction in energy intensity is another, complementary way that Sappi can contribute to this goal.


Global indicators will focus on the share of renewable energy (%) in total energy and specific total energy (STE, GJ/adt).

Given that we are a responsible business operating in many locations around the world and employing over 13,000 people, this goal is strongly linked to Sappi's commitments to Prosperity and People.


We have identified indicators that adequately cover the scope of this goal and reflect both the desire to measure and reduce negative impacts (accidents) and quantify positive contributions (contribution to local economies) and specifically reflect sustainability aspirations. Proposed indicators are:

  • Safety (LTIFR)
  • Percentage procurement spend with declared compliance with Supplier Code of Conduct
  • Gender diversity: proportion of women in middle and senior management
  • Employment engagement survey

Manufacturing products from sustainably harvested, renewable forest resources is the core of our business. Correspondingly, there are many points of relevance for how Sappi can contribute to this SDG, especially from the perspectives of manufacturing, product design and product use/end of life. We operate according to circular economy principles by using resources efficiently and reducing waste generation, from manufacturing processes through to end-of-life product recycling. With investments in R&D and new product development, Sappi's innovation continually strives to create new products and value from woodfibre and side streams. Not only does this work improve resource use, but in many cases, it also generates products that have superior sustainability credentials to the conventional products that they replace.


The global indicators we have proposed include reduction of specific landfilled waste and new products launched with defined sustainability benefits.

Taking urgent and appropriate actions to combat climate change and its impacts is a shared responsibility reinforced within the Paris Agreement and regional and national regulations and/or initiatives. For Sappi the obvious and direct connection to this SDG is through our CO2 emissions, and our actions and commitments to reduce them.


We are looking to set an ambitious strategic goal to decarbonise (Scope 1 and 2) to prevent a 1.5°C temperature rise. We will also intensify efforts to work with suppliers and customers to reduce CO2 emissions (Scope 3 actions).

This SDG seeks to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, as well as reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.


With Sappi's excellence in sustainable forest management and strong reliance on forest certification systems, we can make a positive impact on this goal by continuing to increase our positive contributions towards sustainably managed forests and using our established global forest certification goal as an indicator. Looking ahead, we plan to take a more active, collaborative role on forest-related issues and expand our use of social media to promote awareness of the issue, as well as our activities to enhance life on land.

While Sappi is already engaged and contributing to many partnerships and collaborations, there are many further opportunities in the sustainability arena for us to become more involved generally, or in pursuit of our SDG commitments specifically. The intention with this goal is further strengthen our contribution to partnerships in a way that is well aligned with our priority SDGs and topics, and where a partnership approach can support us in contributing more actively and effectively to various issues.


We will focus on building and activating partnerships to contribute to our priority SDGs and topics including: climate change and forests, sustainable forest management, water stewardship, responsible procurement, innovation, circularity and energy policy.