Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear partners and friends of the REWE Group,
In late April 2022, our REWE Group Dialogue Forum was able to take place again for the first time since the onset of the pandemic over two years ago. Held as a hybrid event, it was an important step in our personal and constructive exchange with our stakeholders during these challenging times.
Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, one of the world’s most distinguished climate researchers and Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, held a keynote speech in which he called for far greater determination in our efforts to protect the climate. In his impressive lecture, he demonstrated with great expertise and fervour how little time we have left to limit climate change to a manageable level. As dramatic as the challenges ahead of us may be, however, the outlook for the future remains optimistic: We are still in a position to achieve a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within this decade. But as Schellnhuber emphasised: “The time to act is now!”
For us at the REWE Group, this sentence is both a mandate and a motivation. Global warming and loss of biodiversity are without a doubt the two greatest ecological problems of our time – and they both have a direct impact on our nutritional security, which means we cannot afford to put them off. We consider it our responsibility as a company to do our part in helping to alleviate these problems. REWE is therefore going to support the new NABU climate fund of our long-standing partner NABU with at least 25 million euros over the next five years. Together we are launching the largest moorland restoration project for agricultural use in Germany, and we believe that strengthening and creating natural carbon sinks has huge potential to effectively protect the climate.
Another major milestone on our journey: The REWE Group intends to purchase green electricity from a new offshore wind farm in the North Sea from 2025 onwards. Energy supply plays a strategic role in the context of our climate goals: We are a green power pioneer in the German food retail sector. Our stores have been completely using power produced from renewable sources since 2008. By signing a corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA) for the new Borkum Riffgrund 3 wind farm, we are now the first food retailer to go one step further: We are directly promoting the expansion of renewable energies and taking on process responsibility as well as a more active role within the energy transition.
Moreover, we want to make it easier for our customers to opt for electric mobility by massively expanding the electric charging station infrastructure – because we will only succeed in stopping climate change if we as a society undertake maximum efforts in all areas of life. That is why we are increasingly relying on state-of-the-art fast-charging stations that allow our customers to conveniently charge their electric vehicles while they shop. This, I am sure, is just what is needed to further accelerate the spread of electric vehicles. Our goal is to establish one of the largest and most modern fast-charging networks in Germany – with at least 2,000 fast-charging stations and 4,000 additional charging stations at selected REWE and PENNY stores throughout Germany by the end of 2024.
Dear readers, these are just a few examples to show you that we are continuing to take responsibility and use our own innovative strength to actively tackle challenges and develop solutions. Some 15 years have passed since we decided, out of conviction, to pursue the goal of becoming an ever more sustainable company. This is how we know that doing business – and living – in a more sustainable way is an ongoing process. And the last two years in particular have shown us just how quickly we can be stripped of what we believed to be certainties.
In times like these, it is therefore more important than ever to show solidarity and hold together. On this note, I would like to express my particular gratitude once again to all employees of the REWE Group in Germany and abroad, as well as to our independent retailers, whose extraordinary commitment has ensured that our company has come through the crisis largely unscathed up to this point. And more than that: In moments of deep despair – such as the catastrophic floods in the Ahr valley in the summer of 2021 or the terrible war of aggression on Ukraine – their willingness to help knows no bounds. From donating goods and money, to organising relief transports at short notice, to providing permanent voluntary support: The commitment of our employees makes me very proud indeed.
As a cooperative company that has been in business for 95 years, sustainability for us means, above all, taking responsibility for what we do and for the impact of our decisions on future generations. The values of solidarity, community and sustainability are firmly anchored in our corporate culture. Our core business, retail and tourism, directly affects the lives of millions of people every day – in Germany and Europe as a whole. That is why it is important for us to take a clear stand for a sustainable society – you can count on that now and in the future.
I hope you enjoy reading our Sustainability Report 2021 and find it informative and interesting!
Chief Executive Officer