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CDMO Samsung Biologics receives ‘grade A rating’ for ESG policies

Contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Samsung Biologics has received a Grade A rating for its environmental, social, and governance policies. The company was recognized by the Korea Institute of Corporate Governance and Sustainability (KCGS), a nonprofit think tank that assesses the ESG policies of all companies listed on the Korea Stock Exchange.

“Samsung Biologics is honored to be recognized by the KCGS for our ESG efforts,” said John Rim, CEO and president of Samsung Biologics. “As part of our vision to build a healthier future for all while creating sustainable value, we will continue to invest in environment-conscious practices to mitigate the risks of climate change, social contribution activities that give back to our communities, and transparent practices in our board and governance structure.”

The recognition comes as Samsung Biologics has increased its focus on ESG issues in recent years. Since Rim’s appointment as CEO in 2020, the CDMO has established an ESG committee, reduced its carbon footprint, and joined several emissions reduction initiatives. It has also devoted significant time and resources to supporting education and other social causes in the community of Songdo, South Korea, where Samsung Biologics is headquartered.

KCGS awarded Samsung Biologics the A rating based on the combination of these activities.

Sustainability initiatives

In its 2022 ESG report, Samsung Biologics details both its progress on meeting emissions reduction targets at its facilities and its involvement in broader sustainability initiatives aimed at achieving net zero emissions across the pharmaceutical industry.

“Under our ‘Driven. For a Sustainable Life.’ framework, we are continuously improving and committing our resources to create a sustainable environment, build a healthy society, and implement responsible business activities,” said Rim in a statement on the report’s release. “The publication of our annual ESG Report reinforces the progress we’ve made, while keeping us focused on the long-term goals we’ve set. Our sustainability initiatives reinforce the connection between the work we do and how we fulfill our mission, while delivering on our core values of always putting people and the environment first.”

The CDMO is committed to achieving net-zero emissions at all of its sites and throughout its supply chain, and it plans to run on 100% renewable electricity across its operations by 2050. This commitment includes engaging with suppliers to minimize the environmental impact of the biopharmaceuticals manufacturing process.

In 2021, Samsung Biologics’ path to meeting these goals involved joining the Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit that holds members to strict emissions monitoring and reporting standards. This includes risk assessment reports for the CDMO’s existing facilities and for the construction of new facilities.

Samsung Biologics has combined this commitment to reporting its emissions practices with a proactive approach to emissions reduction through involvement with sustainability initiatives.

2021 also saw the CDMO join the Frontier 1.5D initiative, which is focused on ensuring that global temperatures do not rise over 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The initiative is a collaboration among business leaders, the British Embassy, academics from Ewha Womans University, and South Korea’s Financial Supervisory service. Samsung Biologics’ role as a business sector representative in the initiative involves providing detailed data and risk analysis of the impact of climate change and the financial effects of emissions mitigation policies.

In addition, Samsung Biologics is the lone CDMO representative in the Sustainable Markets Initiative. Launched by the U.K.’s King Charles III at the World Economic Forum in 2020, the SMI’s mission is to advance sustainability in a manner that aligns economic value with social and environmental sustainability. In support of the Terra Carta mandate to emphasize sustainability in private sector development, Samsung Biologics helped launch the SMI Health Systems Task Force at the COP26 climate conference. The CDMO partnered with health systems leaders from the private and public sectors to focus on developing sustainable supply chains for the pharmaceutical industry.

“We are the only CDMO represented in the SMI’s Health Systems Task Force along with AstraZeneca, Sanofi, GSK, Novo Nordisk, the [World Health Organization], the [National Health Service], and UNICEF,” said Rim in a recent interview. “This foregrounds our positioning as a strategic partner to pharma and a contributor to the betterment of society, global health, and the planet.”

Community support and corporate governance

While Samsung Biologics’ environmental policies were a key contributor to the KCGS’s A rating, other factors assessed by the nonprofit include social impact and corporate governance. These areas are essential aspects of ESG strategies.

In terms of social impact, Samsung Biologics has focused on youth mentorship and supporting educational initiatives. The CDMO partnered with the Incheon Human Resources Development Foundation to fund the Bio Dream Plus scholarship and mentoring program for underprivileged students in the community. The program provides career counseling for students interested in the sciences and particularly in biotechnology, a sector that continues to grow in the area as South Korea becomes a global biotech hub.

Other social initiatives that Samsung Biologics has supported include a long-running program to provide financial support for medical expenses incurred by socially marginalized patients treated at local hospitals in the Incheon region, as well as installing bicycle facilities in Songdo and providing devices to monitor elderly community members with dementia.

Finally, the CDMO continues to bolster its corporate transparency practices, with ethics, legal compliance, and disclosure practices a top priority of the board of directors’ ESG and audit committees. The company also has implemented a business continuity management system designed to ensure organizational resilience and foster an awareness of connections across the CDMO’s variety of operations.

These governance systems are complemented by thorough employee training and human resource policies that protect human rights and ensure a healthy work environment.

In the ESG report, Rim stressed the CDMO’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and creating value in the local community.

“Samsung Biologics will carry out CSR activities to grow jointly with the local community, respect the human rights and diversity of stakeholders, including executives and employees, and strengthen business management to promote mutual growth.