Suntory has always been thinking about and acting towards sustainable society. Suntory’s “Institute for Water Science” works with earth scientists, local governments and communities to nurture biodiversity, cultivate natural ground water, and protect forests that function as sanctuaries. Through its “Mizuiku” programme, Suntory has captivated the imaginations of over 180,000 students in Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan with the marvels of nature to nurture water regeneration. Suntory has an alliance with the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) and the Clean Ocean Material Alliance (CLOMA) to capitalize on what Arthur Lok Jack calls — “Next-Practices”.
In 2003, Suntory locked itself into long-term covenants with governments and owners of forests to establish twenty-one Natural Water Sanctuaries across 12,000ha of untouched forests that are akin to Tobago’s Main Ridge. This reserve of 3,958ha was established on April 13th, 1776 long before the incorporation of Suntory in 1899. So the idea of preserving forest to nurture water generation is as old as Tobago. Tobago’s main ridge is home to tropical forest that includes lower montane, lowland and xerophytic rainforest. The majority of the reserve is lower montane, and is found at heights above 244 metres and benefits from the greatest amount of rainfall, exposure to wind and the lowest temperatures, making it an Evergreen Forest.
It is the oldest legally protected forest reserve geared specifically towards a conservation purpose. The protection Ordinance states in part, that the reserve is “for the purpose of attracting frequent showers of rain upon which the fertility of lands in these climates doth entirely depend.” The phrasing of the ordinance is attributed to Soame Jenyns, a British parliamentarian who was influenced by Stephen Hales, an English scientist who illuminated the relationship between forest and rainfall.
At the December 2019 start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Suntory’s sales closed at US$21billion. Suntory is a beverage behemoth. A water company. It is not an environmental NGO like Greenpeace or anything like Greta’s Extinction Rebellion. Suntory is a beverage transnational that has inextricably interlaced its foundations to locating and nurturing pristine water for its award-winning beers, whiskeys, and soft drinks. Suntory’s brands include the spirits of the Château Lagrange winery in the Saint-Julien appellation of France’s Bordeaux region, Japanese whiskey marques like Hakushu, Hibiki, Yamazaki, and badges like Courvoisier, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Laphroaig, Orangina, Ribena, Bowmore, and Lucozade.
Suntory has two water sanctuaries in Kentucky and one in Lyon. Suntory has 40, 000 employees, 300 group companies, and operations in 120 countries. By 2030, Suntory has committed to transferring to 100% fully sustainable plastic bottles, achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050 Suntory aims to cultivate more water than it uses in its global operations.
But, despite the 1776 Tobago Ordinance, the “Song of the Earth” was paused for over twenty years waiting for a Beverage Container Bill to brisé into the Daniel Hahn high central cupola of the Trinidad Red House. The Rotunda still sits in silence on plastic pollution as the earth wails and wilts. The only song that tinkles together with the lunchtime chimes of the Trinity Cathedral bells near the Red House are the silver coins that shimmer on the horizon for the happy beverage Moghuls and Merchants.
They say nothing about a virus that has left its natural quarantine in the forest. A plague unleashed upon humanity. Silence. Nothing. Nothing from the TTMA. Nothing from the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. And Le Hunte has left the parliament and a promise of a Bill behind. The only sustained high discussion about forest sanctuaries centres around a report from the Auditor General on a high-angle canopy tour course along the Main Ridge. But as the wrangle over a rope and the ridge unravels, the rest on earth struggle to refill the future sustainably. John Kerry promised “humility” stirred with “ambition” after confessing that he felt “pain and…embarrassment” over the U.S.’ departure from the Paris Agreement. Simone Tagliapietra, from the Bruegel Think Tank, noted that the strongest hope for transatlantic collaboration rests with projects such as a carbon border tax — an idea favoured by the EU and the new U.S. administration — as well as reforestation and carbon capture. Elon Musk tweeted a promise of a $100-million-dollar prize to incentivize the development of the “best” technology to capture CO2 emissions. Ursula von der Leyen stated that the EU wished to “deepen partnerships” on emissions trading and carbon pricing and biodiversity loss.
The European Green Deal, that aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, has given the EU a policy lead. But Biden has promised to inject $2 trillion into clean energy which is double the size of the EU budget for 2021-2027. Suntory’s CEO, Takeshi Niinami, recently addressed 19,397 attendees from 142 countries at a virtual event pledging support for the Taskforce for Climate-Based Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Driven by the recommendations of the TCFD, Suntory conducted a scenario analysis for climate change and uncovered risks to crops used as ingredients in its products. By 2027, Suntory will operate a new plant with twenty cross-industry partners, given the range of actors and stakeholders involved in plastics. Suntory understands that collaboration is as vital as innovation.