British American Tobacco plc
Founded in 1902, British American Tobacco (BAT) is the world's second-largest quoted tobacco group, with brands sold in more than 180 countries. BAT employs almost 60,000 people worldwide and manufactures cigarettes in 41 countries. They are the only international tobacco group with a significant interest in tobacco leaf growing, working with 200,000 farmers internationally, and covering some 400,000 hectares - mostly in developing countries. BAT provides direct agronomy support to around 160,000 growers in 19 countries, covering all aspects of crop production and environmental best practice. Most of these farmers grow tobacco on a small scale, alongside or in rotation with other crops such as rice, maize or beans, in mixed farming landscapes.
Building on foundations established through BAT’s engagement with Earthwatch since the early 1990’s, the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership formed in 2001, and is a multilateral partnership with Fauna & Flora International, Tropical Biology Association, Earthwatch and BAT. The Partnership seeks to address some of the challenging issues of conserving and managing biodiversity and ecosystem services within tobacco-growing and mixed agricultural landscapes.
Key achievements of the Biodiversity Partnership
Embedding biodiversity into British American Tobacco’s business
In 2006, BAT committed to ‘embedding’ biodiversity in its operations through a second term of the Partnership (2006-2010). The Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment (BROA) tool was developed by the Partners and adopted as the core instrument to drive change. To date, 19 BAT leaf companies across the globe have completed BROAs and corrective action plans working in partnership with local conservation experts and stakeholders. These companies have started to implement their action plans, and implementation will be a continuing priority into Term 3.
During Term 2, managers’ knowledge and competence around biodiversity and sustainability were raised through BROA training workshops and direct involvement in projects. Awareness and understanding of these issues were raised across the company by the Earthwatch Employee Fellowships Programme and an online learning module. Between 2006 and 2010, 137 BAT employees from 51 countries supported Earthwatch scientists on 19 different research projects around the world. In a survey of participants, 93% reported that that their understanding of the importance of research into biodiversity and the environment had increased, and 75% agreed that the Employee Fellowships Programme raised their understanding of the relevance of biodiversity and sustainable development issues to the company. Over 40 of these fellows went on to lead local conservation initiatives through the Small Grants Programme.
Building conservation capacity of individuals and organisations
Term 2 of the Partnership supported major capacity-building programmes for other stakeholders. For example, the Earthwatch Capacity Development Programme worked with more than 75 partner organisations across Africa, Europe and Asia to identify more than 200 young scientists and educators to benefit from tailored training in biodiversity conservation. For many of these individuals, this was a unique opportunity to work with and learn from scientists in the field. In a recent survey to assess the impact of this programme, 100 per cent of participants said that they had put the skills they learnt on the programme into practice, and 96 per cent were still working in biodiversity conservation.
Protecting and restoring habitats and species, while ensuring sustainable use of natural resources
Through the Partnership, BAT has supported conservation and research projects which address biodiversity and ecosystem issues especially where these were linked to tobacco growing countries or agricultural and forestry related themes. For example, BAT funds have been particularly important in enabling Earthwatch to develop and launch the Mt Mulanje (Malawi) Ecological Monitoring Programme, with the Mt Mulanje Conservation Trust. Data collected by the Programme directly contributed to the management plan for the threatened Mount Mulanje Global Biosphere Reserve.
Looking forward – Term 3
As a sign of the Partner’s continued commitment, the Partnership was recently renewed for a third term of five years (2011-2015). From 2011 onwards, the Partnership will focus in greater depth on four key themes relating to biodiversity and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes – soils, water, forests and trees, and landscapes. Term 3 will focus on fewer projects, but each one will be larger in scope and ambition than previous projects. There are two types of projects:
These projects focus on areas where BAT has leaf growing operations and are largely formed as a result of BROA and corrective action plans. The issues identified by the BROAs are often part of larger issues in a wider agricultural landscape which need to be addressed by collaboration between the Partnership and other local stakeholders, such as governments, universities, other NGOs, other businesses and multilateral agencies and communities. Working together, the Partnership believes that it can start to address the wider impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The Partnership’s programme of work also seeks to deliver NGO Partners’ conservation and biodiversity management aims within the context of agricultural landscapes and the wider ecosystems on which they depend. These Aligned projects will be delivered independently by each Partner. For example, Earthwatch is developing new research projects in Brazil and India with the aim of enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services within agricultural landscapes. Both research projects will offer opportunities for engagement of BAT employees, other corporate partners, individual volunteers, young scientists, and teachers.
Sharing good practice
The Partnership is starting to share good practice through presentations at international forums; participation in the Natural Value Initiative (2010); recognition in The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study (2010); hosting a roundtable discussion on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; and sharing tools such as BROA with other companies. The intention is to make BROA version 2 available to all tobacco suppliers in BAT’s supply chain, and to other interested companies, during 2011. The aim is to raise the standards across the sector and to share good practice with other agriculture based companies that face similar challenges.