Message from the CEO
As a leading global medicines company that reaches more than 750 million patients every year, we know our work to build trust with society extends far beyond researching and developing innovative therapies. It entails the totality of human health and the promotion of health equity, including environmental protection, the delivery of medicines to as many people as possible, and living up to high ethical business standards. In 2020, we continued taking important steps to integrate our environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda into the core of our business.
With our perspective on our company’s role in society in mind, I am proud of the ways Novartis has helped lead as part of the global pandemic response. In addition to collaborating with governments, academia and other life sciences companies, we focused our research and development (R&D) engine on finding scientific solutions, set up emergency health programs, and were the first company to commit to keeping relevant and essential generic medicines cost-stable.
More broadly, as a founding signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, Novartis has worked to build a strong legacy over the past two decades as we’ve developed and refined our corporate sustainability principles. The sum of these efforts has prepared us to take further action and pave the way to reach our goal to be a trusted ESG leader by integrating our global efforts, enhancing executive accountability and measuring our performance against transparent targets.
We aspire to create a culture in which our ESG activities are deeply embedded in our daily work, reflecting both the responsibility we have to our patients around the world today as well as those who will come after us.
An important step in our integrated approach was the initiation of our Trust & Reputation Committee, which I have chaired since its inception in 2019. In its first full year of existence, the committee, among others, reviewed potential gaps in our ESG performance and identified new commitments. As part of these efforts, I signed the CEO Water Mandate and the CEO Guide to Human Rights.
In 2020, Novartis made measurable progress in our existing ESG agenda while setting new targets. We were able to resolve our long-standing legal issues and launched a new Code of Ethics. We also worked to expand access to innovative and generic therapies in low- and middle-income countries, and we set ambitious targets in this realm going forward. In addition, we strengthened our environmental sustainability targets and now aim to be fully carbon, plastic and water neutral over the next decade.
Our ambitions will remain high. Along with the urgency of finding solutions to overcome the global pandemic, climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time given its deep interconnection with human health. This increasingly urgent problem requires fast and vigorous science-based action and the collective strengthening of a sustainability mindset to ensure a healthier planet for rising generations.
As we look ahead at the years to come, I remain optimistic about our ability to meet our company’s ambitions to be an ESG leader and the most trusted healthcare company in the world. We aspire to create a culture in which our ESG activities are deeply embedded in our daily work, reflecting both the responsibility we have to our patients around the world today as well as those who will come after us.
Chief Executive Officer