Syngenta Group, officially launched in June 2020, brings together four major companies: Syngenta Seeds, Syngenta Crop Protection, Syngenta Group China and Adama. The group now employs close to 50,000 people and has activities spanning more than 100 countries around the world. The group is owned by ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned chemical company, which acquired the original Syngenta company in 2017.
Syngenta Group ranks fifth in the agricultural inputs segment, reflecting its leading performance in the environment measurement area. The company stands out from its peers through its Good Growth Plan Open Data disclosure in soil health and ranks second in environment. However, it lags in the governance and strategy as well as nutrition measurement area, barely making it to the top 20 of the segment. Similarly, in social inclusion, while Syngenta Group demonstrates leading practice in farmers’ productivity and resilience, it does not show a strong industry performance in the remainder social topics. Although the company performs relatively less well in the nutrition and social inclusion measurement areas, it discloses more commitments and activities than most of its benchmark peers.
Soil health and agrobiodiversity Syngenta Group shows leadership in soil health and agrobiodiversity through its Good Growth Plan Open Data platform. The platform provides detailed reporting on the progress made by the company against its Good Growth Plan targets – notably soil health and biodiversity – and relies on independent data collection and validation. Therefore, Syngenta Group shows commitment to transparency and accountability.
Farmer productivity and resilience Syngenta Group reports that it supports the resilience, productivity and access to markets for farmers, both through its own operations and programmes, its foundation, as well as collaboration with partners such as the Solidaridad Network. Through its many support activities, it develops sustainable technologies and business models for smallholders which address access to markets, financial solutions and high-quality inputs, including seeds, crop protection solutions and advanced digital tools. Syngenta Group also offers training on the safe and responsible use of the inputs. The company reports on the impact of all its support activities through its ‘land productivity increase’ key performance indicator (KPI). The KPI consists of the annual land productivity increase on reference farms, which are defined as those with a larger than average share of wallet on Syngenta products.
Sustainable development strategy The company discloses a materiality matrix and under its Good Growth Plan, Syngenta Group discloses targets for 2025 for most of its relevant sustainability topics. However, the company has yet to consistently report progress against these targets. There is room for Syngenta Group to improve its performance by providing increased reporting on its targets as well as developing targets addressing the nutrition dimension in a direct fashion.
Governance and accountability for sustainable development The company discloses that its decision-making process and oversight responsibilities for its sustainability strategy lie with its highest governance body. Furthermore, it links its executive team’s remuneration to sustainability performance through its Long-Term Incentive Plan. However, there is an opportunity for Syngenta Group to enhance its governance and accountability mechanisms by linking its executives’ annual reward system to sustainability performance across the environment, nutrition and social inclusion topics. The company has an opportunity to disclose its board of directors’ remuneration policy regarding these sustainability topics.
Stakeholder engagement The company reports that it conducts stakeholder research and performs regular assessments to evaluate stakeholder concerns and expectations. While recognising the need for stakeholder engagement, the company does not provide a list of its stakeholders nor an overview of the issues raised. Therefore, there is room for Syngenta Group to improve its performance by increasing its disclosure on stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, the company’s stakeholder engagement could cover nutrition and social inclusion-related sustainability topics across its value chain.
Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions
Syngenta Group discloses in its Good Growth Plan a time-bound target to reduce its carbon intensity by 50% by 2030 from a 2016 baseline. It reports against the target, disclosing quantitative reductions in its scope 1 and 2 emissions, both in intensity and absolute value. The company also sets a target to reduce the carbon intensity of its own operations and supply chain (i.e. scope 1, 2 and 3) by 68% based on value added by 2030 compared to 2016, which has been validated by SBTi. However, while the target is aligned with a 2-degree trajectory, there is an opportunity for the company to demonstrate further leadership through external verification of the targets to show they are aligned with a 1.5-degree trajectory.
Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions Syngenta Group discloses in its Good Growth Plan a time-bound target to reduce its carbon intensity by 50% by 2030 from a 2016 baseline, covering its scope 3 emissions. Furthermore, Syngenta Group has committed to reducing the carbon intensity of its own operations and supply chain by 68% based on value added by 2030 from a 2016 baseline, which has been validated by SBTi. However, the company has yet to demonstrate progress from the baseline year.
Fertiliser and pesticide use Syngenta Group discloses quantitative evidence on optimising the use of pesticides through its ‘land productivity increase’ indicator and its ‘crop produced with programmes for lowest residues in crops’ indicator. The company has also significantly improved pesticide field application efficiency. While it has achieved its previous target to increase the average productivity of the world’s major crops by 20% by 2020 without using more inputs, it has not renewed a similar time-bound target. There is an opportunity for Syngenta Group to disclose a new time-bound target to optimise fertiliser or pesticide use and reporting against it.
Availability of healthy foods The company reports that it produces high-quality seeds to improve the quality and yields of crops. It further reports that with 30 vegetable species, and more than 2,500 varieties, it aims to address the demand for healthy foods. Through research and development, the company also aims to enhance the nutritional value of crops. As an example, it mentions its YOOM™ tomato, with its higher vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content. Nevertheless, while Syngenta Group recognises the need for healthy foods and better nutrition and undertakes activities to achieve them, it does not disclose quantitative evidence of its nutritional targets and activities. There is an opportunity for the company to enhance its reporting by demonstrating the impact of its activities on the nutritional quality of foods as well as the production and variety of healthy and nutritious foods.
Accessibility and affordability of healthy foods Syngenta Group discloses a commitment to addressing food insecurity through various activities, notably its Seeds2B programme, and discloses their impact through the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. The company has an opportunity to improve its performance by providing evidence of corporate activities and disclose a time-bound target to enhance the accessibility or affordability of healthy foods.
Workforce nutrition Syngenta Group supports workforce nutrition by providing healthy food at work. There is room for the company to improve its performance by increasing its disclosure and impact on both its workforce nutrition programme and nutrition education programme.
Child labour Syngenta Group commits to prohibiting child labour in its own operations and requires its suppliers to adhere to the same standard. In addition, the company verifies the age of applicants and expects the same from its suppliers. Furthermore, it discloses a monitoring process for each direct procurement activity. However, it does not disclose details of a coordinated and consistent monitoring system for its own operations. Therefore, there is an opportunity for Syngenta Group to enhance its disclosure on its child labour monitoring system.
Forced labour While the company commits to prohibiting forced labour in its own operations and supply chain, it has an opportunity to disclose a requirement that prohibits its suppliers from retaining workers’ personal documents and restricting workers’ freedom of movement.
Health and safety of vulnerable groups While the company acknowledges the role of women in rural economies, it does not specifically recognise the health and safety risks to vulnerable groups, such as migrant and temporary labourers, women and young farmers. There is an opportunity for Syngenta Group to show leadership by recognising the issue and increasing its disclosure on the topic.
Core social indicators
The core social indicators are part of the social inclusion measurement area. These indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Syngenta Group is committed to respecting human rights and the ILO core labour rights. It also has a publicly available statement of policy that expects its supply chain partners to commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. The company has a grievance mechanism that is available to employees as well as external stakeholders. There is room for the company to improve its disclosure on its engagement with affected and potentially affected stakeholders. Moreover, it does not provide evidence of a human rights due diligence process or substantial engagement with affected and potentially affected stakeholders.
The company publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of its workers, prohibits overtime and is a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles. It can improve in these areas by reporting on the number and rates of high-consequence fatalities, extending its ILO-aligned overtime policy to its supply chain partners and setting time-bound targets for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Disclosing a living wage commitment and information on collective bargaining agreements, both of which are currently missing, would also improve its score.