The most recent UN reports state what we already know: Change is not happening fast enough. But I’m convinced that change can happen at scale if we work together across industries and sectors. For example, as an organisation, Novo Nordisk has committed to net-zero by 2045, but in order to achieve this goal, we need to collaborate with innovative partners to create new, improved and more sustainable solutions together; we simply can’t do it alone.

But it's one thing to know what to do and another to actually deliver. More than anything, I've learnt that working together with other companies triggers innovation. One of our challenges is that distributing our products by air, sea, or road to patients across the globe inevitably leads to emissions. So, in order to reach our target of net-zero, we’ve had to find new solutions.

Our partnership with Mærsk is a strong testimony to how we can do more and do better when we work together. By partnering with Mærsk, we were able to deliver temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals cargo while helping us move towards our ambition of a net-zero carbon footprint in our supply chains.

It's not surprising that air freight accounts for most of our product distribution emissions. In a similar partnership to Mærsk's, we worked with airlines to provide life-saving medicines to patients around the world while still aiming to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. In 2021, carbon emissions from our product distribution totalled 71,000 tons. Of these, air freight accounted for 80%. To help us move towards a net-zero carbon footprint, we explored the possibility of entering into agreements with producers of sustainable aviation fuel.

We identified a start-up, SkyNRG, that was open to partnering with us, and late in the year, we were able to reach a long-term agreement making us among the first companies to pursue a direct to source strategy for sustainable aviation fuel. Having a dedicated team of specialists that we were able to call upon was an important part of the success. Our approach of using a pool of specialists has allowed us to build a solid foundation to tackle challenges like these with cross-category capabilities. 

Searching for and identifying the right companies to work with doesn't come without difficulties. For example, before we secured the long-term agreement with SkyNRG, we were denied by a number of companies for our inability to provide examples of similar partnerships. It can be disheartening, but I've found that one of the best approaches is to communicate your goals and ambitions externally – despite not knowing all the answers or having the full roadmap in place. That way, other like-minded companies can find you while you focus your efforts on developing relationships with the right stakeholders who share your goals and possess supplementary skills and technologies to your own.

The world is changing fast. It's no longer an option to sit back and let others fix it. A growing number of leading companies, Novo Nordisk included, are taking climate change matters into their own hands, and through collaboration, we're bringing unique skills, knowledge, and technology to the table.

We have come a long way, but we have even more ground to cover ahead of us. We have a solid understanding of the challenges, a clear vision of where we are heading, but we don’t have the full roadmap in place. Yet. But through collaborating with innovative and likeminded partners, I’m confident we’ll find unique solutions to unique, never-before-seen problems – together. Because one thing is for certain: We simply can't do it alone.

Katrine DiBona is looking into the camera

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