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Promoting sustainable development in the corporate environment and in society through tools that assist in the analysis, measurement and evaluation of the economic, environmental and social impact of products and services – this is the mission of Fundação Espaço ECO (FEE). Created and managed by BASF in Brazil, the foundation has been supporting BASF business units and external companies for 15 years in connecting sustainability and business.
Founded in 2005, FEE is an NGO (non-governmental organization) classified as a Civil Society Organization of Public Interest. As a sustainability consultancy, it operates in South America in a similar way to the Applied Sustainability departments of BASF in Germany, North America and Asia. FEE develops customized analysis and projects using scientific methodologies based on life-cycle thinking that quantify and implement aspects of sustainability, such as water and energy consumption, CO2 emissions, waste generation and other aspects.
“Aware of the main challenges and opportunities of corporate sustainability, the Foundation has supported companies in South America in developing their sustainability strategy, making it part of their business and bringing it increasingly closer to consumers,” says Manfredo Rübens, BASF President for South America. “This helped strengthen the important bond between BASF, our customers, stakeholders, and society in general.”
Considering trends in corporate sustainability, the Foundation defined four strategic pillars to guide its discussions and support its customers: value chain, natural assets, bioeconomy and circular economy. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 30 projects were developed for companies and institutions in South America, including Kimberly-Clark, the Brazilian Association of Bio-innovation, and also business units of BASF. “The Foundation has become a reference that delivers science, data and analysis for managers to make better decisions related to sustainability. It is a fundamental part of BASF’s sustainability strategy in South America and contributes to building partnerships with customers, academia, governmental agencies and society,” comments Cristiana Xavier de Brito, BASF’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability for South America and responsible for the Foundation.
In its history, FEE has contributed to society through studies of public interest in which it seeks to address demands or anticipate trends related to sustainability and identify opportunities for the introduction of more sustainable practices. More recent examples of public initiatives include digitalization, such as SustenBOT. The free interactive digital tool indicates a company’s maturity level in terms of sustainability and generates a preliminary assessment for the organization. Another example is an app for anyone to calculate their own CO2 emissions, i.e. their footprint. In addition to providing tips and instructions on how to reduce the carbon footprint, at the end the app converts the results into the number of trees that need to be planted to compensate for these emissions, and directs users to a platform where they can donate tree seedlings for the rainforest.
“A lot has changed since the establishment of Fundação Espaço ECO. We developed many analyses, studies and projects, and actively participated in changing the role of sustainability in companies – from a secondary issue to becoming part of the organizations’ strategy. We want to continue creating a positive impact for the next generations and fulfilling the Foundation’s mission to support companies and society. Together, we can build a more sustainable future,” says the Foundation’s CEO, Rodolfo Walder Viana.