Geneva, Switzerland, June 1, 2016 Demonstrating its commitment to sustainability, Firmenich proudly hosted the Global Compact Network Switzerland’s (GCNS) General Assembly, followed by a panel discussion with world experts on improving access to clean water and sanitation around the world. The event was attended by more than 100 participants including, members of the Global Compact Network Switzerland, the Swiss Confederation (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), academic institutions and international organizations.

Filippo Veglio, Managing Director for Global and Social Impact, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) kicked-off the discussion by setting out the business case for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched by United Nations to mobilize businesses to eradicate poverty, promote peace and equality, fuel inclusive growth, and protect the environment. “The SDGs present a historic opportunity for businesses to engage more deeply as a strong and positive influence on society”, said Veglio. “By proactively addressing the SDGs, companies will be able to better manage their risks, anticipate consumers’ demand, secure access to needed resources, differentiate themselves from competitors, and strengthen their supply chains.”

About 2.5 billion people globally are without access to adequate sanitation today. 800,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene. “We know we cannot solve such a great challenge alone,” said Dr. Bérangère Magarinos-Ruchat, Vice-President Sustainability Partnerships Firmenich. “That’s why we partner with likeminded visionary experts, cutting across all sectors, to scale up our impact together.”

“Business has an integral role to play if we are to solve the sanitation crisis at scale,” added Cheryl Hicks, Executive Director, The Toilet Board Coalition. “By working hand-in-hand with development experts, businesses can focus on scalable, commercially sustainable solutions to help deliver universal and resilient sanitation through the market.”

Carlos Almasque, Director of Household Care and Open Innovation at Firmenich explained how Firmenich is using cutting edge technologies to counteract malodor, as well as helping its customers to develop sustainable hygiene solutions. Dr. Dimitrios Noukakis, Director MOOCs for Africa (Massive Open Online Courses), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, provided insights into the importance of online education to enable sustainable behaviors and accelerate change. Markus Bürli, Program Manager Global Water initiatives, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships to scale-up impact in the area of water.

During the General Assembly of the Global Compact Network Switzerland (GCNS), its newly enlarged management team confirmed its commitment to promote and improve corporate responsibility and sustainable business across Switzerland. “The public-private partnership with the Swiss Confederation is very helpful in this process”, said Antonio Hautle, Senior Programme Leader, GCNS.

Dr. Ruth E. Blumer Lahner, Head of Regulatory Affairs, Sustainability, Safety, Health, Environment and Quality, Kolb Group was appointed as the new President of the Global Compact Network Switzerland, taking over from Dr. Bérangère Magarinos-Ruchat, Vice-President Sustainability Partnerships Firmenich. “I am committed to advancing the 10 principles of the Global Compact and the SDGs in Switzerland,” stated Ruth E. Blumer Lahner. “Together with the 136 members, I aim to galvanize action across the Swiss business community, especially the SMEs, to create a more sustainable world for future generations.”

Newly elected GCNS board members include Kate Cacciatore, Global Head of Sustainability, Edmond de Rothschild Group; Nollaig Forrest, Vice President Corporate Communications, Firmenich; and James Nicholson, Deputy Head of Corporate Affairs, Trafigura. They join GCNS Board members Matthew Kilgariff, Vice Chair of the GCNS Board and Company Secretary, Richemont; Regina Ammann, Head of Public Policy Switzerland, Syngenta; Christian Frutiger, Deputy Head Global Public Affairs, Nestlé and Caroline Portmann, Vice President Sustainability Affairs, Credit Suisse AG.

An immersive sensory experience rounded out the event, where guests experienced the “Source and Soul” of Firmenich through its Naturals Together program. Through its commitment to the sustainable sourcing of its natural ingredients, Firmenich partners with communities across its value chain, to source 150 varieties of natural ingredients across 40 countries, while contributing to the sustainable livelihoods of 250 000 families of farmers around the world.

Firmenich is the world’s largest privately-owned company in the fragrance and flavor business. Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1895, it has created many of the world’s best-known perfumes and flavors that billions of consumers enjoy each day. Its passion for smell and taste is at the heart of its success. It is renowned for its creativity and innovation, as well as its exceptional understanding of consumer trends. Each year, it invests around 10% of its turnover in R&D, reflecting its continuous desire to understand, share and sublimate the best that nature has to offer. Firmenich had an annual turnover of 3.0 billion Swiss Francs at end June 2015.

The Global Compact Network Switzerland is dedicated to fulfilling the mission and objectives of the United Nations Global Compact working closely with its company members in Switzerland. It supports and facilitates the Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship efforts of its Members in Switzerland. In collaboration with the UN Global Compact community worldwide it promotes and contributes to such activities in Switzerland and serves as an intermediary between its Members and the UN Global Compact Office in New York. More information available at