british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2011 - Viewpoint from Chair of our Supply Chain Sustainability Stakeholder Panel

 
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Sustainability Report 2011
When we first saw the details of the Group’s approach to sustainable agriculture, we were surprised at just how much they were doing.Dr Douglas Crawford-Brown, Panel Chair, Cambridge Science and Policy Consulting

In 2011, I became the Chair of British American Tobacco’s newly formed Supply Chain Sustainability Stakeholder Panel. Our remit is to advise and challenge the business on the implementation of its supply chain sustainability strategy.

We meet twice a year, each time focusing on a specific area or issue. So far we’ve looked at sustainable agriculture and water management. We review the Group’s current approach in these areas, along with its plans going forward, and then we offer our insights and suggestions. And with a wealth of experience and knowledge on the Panel, we have a lot to say! It’s too early to say what sort of impact we’ve had, but so far I’ve found the business to be very open and willing to take on board what we have to say.

Some stakeholders might be reluctant to engage with the company on sustainability issues because of the negative associations with ‘big tobacco’. However, for the Panel, it’s clear that British American Tobacco has a valuable contribution to make to the debate. I think policy makers and others appreciate the input of organisations whose supply chains range from small producers in developing countries to multinationals, as they can offer insights about what works on the ground.

When we first saw the details of the Group’s approach to sustainable agriculture, we were surprised at just how much they were doing. I guess they don’t shout about it because they’ve been discouraged by the criticism the tobacco industry has received. We suggested that if British American Tobacco were to promote its concept of sustainable agriculture generally – not just growing tobacco sustainably – then this might improve the lives of tobacco growers as well as relationships with those stakeholders who are currently reluctant to engage with a tobacco company.

As the Panel moves into its second year, we look forward to seeing how our work with British American Tobacco progresses and how our input is making a difference in the business.

Dr Douglas Crawford-Brown, Panel Chair, Cambridge Science and Policy Consulting

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