The United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda is a global plan to promote sustainable peace and prosperity and to protect our planet. Since 2016, countries and organizations have been working to implement this agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our goal is for our business activities to create shared value that is both measurable and makes a recognizable contribution. In this context, we rely on the power of science and technology – with responsibility for the well-being of mankind.
Doing our part
Our contribution at a glance
In 2020, we set ourselves new, strategic sustainability goals and embedded them into the overall strategy of our company. Among other things, we analyzed how we can actively contribute to the sustainable development of society and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The analysis showed that we have the strongest positive impact on five SDGs through our entrepreneurial actions. Further information can be found under Sustainability strategy.
We summarize our contribution as follows:
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
With our products, we create a positive impact on the health and quality of life of people around the world. Through technological and scientific innovations, we are also helping to improve the health of underserved populations in low- and middle-income countries.
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
We see it as our responsibility to respect human rights both within our company and along our supply chain. That is why we are dedicated to upholding appropriate and fair labor and social standards. We want to drive sustainable economic growth through progressive resource efficiency.
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
We use our expertise in science and technology to make our products, processes and infrastructure sustainable. In addition, we want to promote the work of scientists worldwide with our innovations and support programs.
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
We use resources efficiently and reduce waste and emissions. We pay attention to this in our product development and in our manufacturing activities. We also help our customers to manufacture their products more sustainably and efficiently and to achieve their own sustainability goals.
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
We need strong partners in order to drive sustainable development within our company and beyond and to better meet societal challenges. We therefore collaborate with a wide array of organizations, companies, federations, and networks.
Through our sustainability strategy, we help to solve challenges globally, and not only within these five SDGs. Our management approaches and projects also support SDG 4 (Quality education), SDG 5 (Gender equality) – supplemented by diversity and inclusion, SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), and SDG 13 (Climate action).
More detailed information on our quantitative and qualitative contributions to the SDGs is summarized in an interactive tool.
Our contribution in detail
SDG target 3.3
global prevalence of heavy intensity schistosomiasis infections
Our priority areas lie in eliminating schistosomiasis and preventing malaria through our expertise in science and technology. Our strategy is to develop and provide medicines, improve diagnosis, counter disease transmission, increase disease control, expand access to healthcare, and strengthen local health systems.
SDG target 3.4
As a science-driven organization, we aim to apply our knowledge and curiosity to prevent and control non-communicable diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and hypertension and to improve the health and well-being of people across the globe.
SDG target 3.7
babies born with the help of our products.
We are world market leader in fertility treatments. We want to help couples realize their dream of having a baby. Building on our fertility expertise that dates back to 1906, we continuously develop innovations in fertility.
SDG target 3.8
With our support, more than 890 GPHF Minilabs help to identify counterfeit medicines worldwide.
Our Global Health Strategy is designed to overcome access barriers for underserved populations and communities in low- and middle-income countries in an economically viable and sustainable manner. We are working to prevent cost from becoming a barrier to treatment. We secure our products against counterfeiting and are resolutely committed to fighting product-related crime.
SDG target 3.9
10 EHS audits
were conducted in 2020. Due to Covid-19, we performed fewer EHS audits than in the previous years.
The safety of our plants, warehouses, and processes is a key element of our environmental stewardship practices, allowing us to protect both our workforce and the people in the immediate vicinity of our sites. We examine our environmental, health and safety (EHS) activities by performing regular audits of our sites and we established ambitious safety standards for our products and processes.
SDG target 3.b
– the number of Covid-19 vaccine development projects we are supporting worldwide.
Using an integrated approach, we develop new medicines, diagnostics and preventive care tools. Our aim is to strengthen approaches to control and eliminate schistosomiasis, malaria and other infectious diseases. In addition, we develop platform technologies to develop and manufacture new vaccines, also for Covid-19. We also engage in treating non-communicable diseases in patients in need. Furthermore, we are committed to pricing our products responsibly.
SDG target 3.c
We involved over ten African countries in the PAVON project in 2020.
We aim to strengthen healthcare systems by building capacity in the research, development, production, and delivery of medicines, making them more resilient to health crises. We are partnering with key institutions in Africa to establish the Pan-African Vivax and Ovale Network (PAVON), centers of excellence for epidemiological surveillance and scientific research on malaria. The project supports policy making and offers training to African scientists.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 3.3 Fighting infectious diseases Access to health By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases. 3.4 Leveraging science for health and well-being Access to health By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being. 3.7 Enabling parenthood Access to health By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including for family planning, information and education and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs. 3.8 Access to health for all Access to health
Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. 3.9 Ensuring the safety of products and processes Chemical product safety
Plant and process safety
Transport and warehouse safety
By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination. 3.b Sharing innovation Innovation and R&D Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all. 3.c Building capacity for health for all Access to health Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States.
- SDG target 3.3
SDG target 4.1
Supporting community projects at the locations where we operate is especially important to us. We sponsor many educational projects aimed at creating and supporting the next generation of scientists.
SDG target 4.3
We strongly support equal opportunities for all genders. In addition to recruiting talented students, we provide financial assistance through scholarships and we cooperate with universities, student initiatives and associations. We continuously invest in new technologies and integrate these into our vocational training programs.
SDG target 4.4
We support our employees’ personal and professional development in line with their strengths, ambitions and competencies. Our People strategy serves as a basis for our continuous efforts to attract, retain and develop our leaders and our talent. It underlines the importance of curious and talented staff.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 4.1 Enabling education and the sciences Community engagement By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. 4.3 Ensuring equal opportunities Community engagement
By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university. 4.4 Providing quality education programs Employee development By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
- SDG target 4.1
SDG target 5.1
We do not tolerate discrimination, physical or verbal harassment or intolerance. We are signatory of various declarations underlining our commitment to equality, fairness, inclusion, and tolerance in working life.
SDG target 5.4
We are determined to better understand and support the emotional, financial and health implications of being an unpaid caregiver. We focus on raising awareness in the media, broadening stakeholder engagement, shaping policy, and engaging healthcare systems.
SDG target 5.5
held leadership roles in our company in 2020. This represents 35% of our leadership team.
We are determined to increase the proportion of women in leadership positions and to promote a stronger sense of diversity and inclusion among our employees. This also includes learning how unconscious bias influences us in our daily working life. We also support awareness campaigns for female empowerment.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 5.1 Taking a stand against discrimination Diversity End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. 5.4 Giving a voice to caregivers Health awareness Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate. 5.5 Creating equal opportunities Diversity
Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
- SDG target 5.1
SDG target 6.1
We are constantly working to optimize our production and cleaning processes in order to save water and minimize residues. We also carry out education campaigns, thus supporting local capacity-building activities.
SDG target 6.2
We support initiatives and projects that aim to increase access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation within communities and health centers, to prevent transmission of diseases through new technologies and enhanced infrastructure.
SDG target 6.3
We are constantly working to optimize our production and cleaning processes in order to save water and minimize residues. By 2030, we want to ensure that residues of environmentally relevant trace substances in the wastewater of all production sites will be below the “no-effect” concentration.
SDG target 6.4
We want to minimize any negative influence we have on the water situation in the vicinity of our sites. Special requirements with regard to water management are placed upon our locations in areas where water is scarce. By 2025, we aim to decrease our water intensity footprint by 10% compared to 2019.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 6.1 Water stewardship and educational programs Community engagement
By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. 6.2 Increasing hygiene and sanitation capabilities in communities Access to health
By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. 6.3 Minimizing the impact of our wastewater Water management By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally. 6.4 Decreasing our water footprint Water management By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.
- SDG target 6.1
SDG target 7.2
We will step up the purchase of electricity from renewable sources. By 2030, we are aiming to cover 80% of our electricity consumption with renewables.
SDG target 7.3
We implement a variety of energy efficiency measures in order to decrease our energy footprint. We also offer a number of products that are more energy-efficient than conventional alternatives.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 7.2 Expanding the usage of renewable energies Energy efficiency and renewable energies By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. 7.3 Implementation of energy efficiency measures Energy efficiency and renewable energies
By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
- SDG target 7.2
SDG target 8.2
million is the amount we invest in innovative technologies and transformational ideas through our M Ventures corporate venture capital fund.
We translate science and technology into internal innovation and external collaborations with the goal of having the power to change lives. We are constantly on the lookout for groundbreaking technological developments and trends. We facilitate innovation across our businesses and beyond our company’s current scope through our Innovation Center at our global headquarters in Germany, our China Innovation Hub and our Silicon Valley Innovation Hub in the United States.
SDG target 8.4
of our Life Science products are greener alternatives to conventional solutions.
Our Life Science business sector develops solutions to make research and biotech production simpler, faster and more efficient, while our Performance Materials business sector focuses on energy-efficient solutions for the electronics market, for example semiconductor and display materials. Our Life Science business sector offers a range of tools for analyzing and minimizing product impacts in terms of materials used, energy and emissions, water, packaging, and innovation.
SDG target 8.5
the number of participants in our employee networks around the globe.
Our goal is to further expand the diversity of our workforce and offer all our people equal opportunities for advancement. We form teams with a balanced age structure, diverse educational backgrounds and experience and create an international working environment. We are committed to creating an inclusive culture that reflects our values and enables employees to unleash their potential. We purposefully support multiple global and local employee networks focusing on different topics such as women or women in leadership, internationality, race and ethnicity, and LGBTQI+.
SDG target 8.7
We do not tolerate any business activities or relationships leading to violations of human rights. We conduct internal audits to assess whether the workplace requirements of our Human Rights Charter are observed at our sites and we raise the awareness of our employees through training.
SDG target 8.8
Lost Time Injury Rate (LTIR) = workplace accidents resulting in missed days of work per one million man-hours.
We track workplace accidents resulting in missed days of work per one million man-hours (LTIR) on a Group-wide level, while aiming to keep this indicator as low as possible by implementing high safety standards. We are committed to respecting international social and labor standards set by the International Labour Organization. We also expect our suppliers to comply with our labor standards.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 8.2 Fostering innovation and funding for future technologies Innovation and R&D Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labor-intensive sectors. 8.4 Embracing the life cycle approach Sustainable products Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavor to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programs on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead. 8.5 Expand diversity Diversity By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. 8.7 Minimizing human rights risks Human rights Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms. 8.8 Ensuring occupational health and safety Health and safety Protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.
- SDG target 8.2
SDG target 9.4
is the year by which we want to achieve climate neutrality.
At all our production sites, we meet a strict set of environmental regulations and continually adapt our processes to new regulatory requirements. Due to the growing scarcity of natural resources, we strive to use energy, water and materials as efficiently as possible.
SDG target 9.5
the percentage of net sales we spent on R&D in 2020.
Science is at the heart of everything we do. We conduct research and development (R&D) worldwide in order to develop new products and services designed to improve the quality of life of patients and satisfy the needs of our customers. Further optimizing the relevance and efficiency of our research and development activities is one of our top priorities. By providing financial support for research conducted outside our company and granting awards, we are also stimulating scientific progress of researchers worldwide.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 9.4 Minimizing negative environmental impacts Emissions
Energy efficiency and renewable energies
Greenhouse gas emissions
Waste and recycling
By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities. 9.5 Leveraging scientific research Innovation and R&D Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.
- SDG target 9.4
SDG target 12.1
We have made sustainability an essential component of the company’s overall strategy and aim to ensure that all our businesses create positive value for society while avoiding the generation of subsequent costs for society. In 2020, we formulated new strategic sustainability targets with a ten- to twenty-year scope.
SDG target 12.2
The amount by which we want to reduce our Water Intensity Score by 2025 (baseline: 2019).
In order to improve our water efficiency, we defined an intensity value – the “Merck Water Intensity Score”. It sets the water consumption of a site in relation to the local availability of water and the number of hours worked at the site. We also strive to utilize natural resources as efficiently as possible and prevent the generation of waste, for instance by developing new production processes or optimizing existing ones.
SDG target 12.4
No significant incident-related spills were recorded at any of our production, research and warehouse sites Group-wide in 2020.
The safety of our plants, warehouses and processes is a key element of our environmental stewardship practices, allowing us to protect both our workforce and the people in the immediate vicinity of our sites. We employ strict safety standards for our production processes and for our chemical products. To document accidents and other incidents, we track the EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) Incident Rate. The indicator covers the number of workplace accidents as well as environmentally relevant incidents.
SDG target 12.5
of the Merck Waste Score by 2025 is what we want to achieve to reduce the environmental footprint of our waste (baseline: 2016).
We generally try to prevent or reduce the generation of waste, for instance by developing new production processes or optimizing existing ones. In addition, we are striving to use waste disposal pathways that are more environmentally sustainable such as recycling or incineration with energy recovery whenever possible. We support the circular economy approach.
SDG target 12.6
is the year we started reporting on sustainability aspects regarding our company.
Responsibility and transparency are integral parts of our corporate culture. They are two of our six company values. Sustainability is an essential component of our corporate strategy.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 12.1 Fully embedding sustainability in the value chain Governance
Implement the 10-year framework of programs on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries. 12.2 Continuously reducing our ecological footprint Sustainable products
Waste and recycling
By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources. 12.4 Ensuring the sound management of chemicals and waste Chemical product safety
Plant and process safety
Transport and warehouse safety
Waste and recycling
By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment. 12.5 Continuously reducing our ecological footprint Waste and recycling By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse. 12.6 Transparent governance and reporting Governance Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
- SDG target 12.1
SDG target 13.2
By 2030, we want to reduce our direct Scope 1 and indirect Scope 2 emissions by 50% compared to 2020 and by 2040, we want to achieve climate neutrality. The 2030 goal is to be achieved through energy efficiency measures, the reduction of process-related emissions as well as the increased purchase of electricity from renewable sources.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 13.2 Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions Energy efficiency and renewable energy
Greenhouse gas emissions
Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
- SDG target 13.2
SDG target 17.6
>14,000 individual patents
are shared in the publicly available PAT-INFORMED database.
We support a reliable and transparent framework of intellectual property that allows sustainable investment in research and development for innovations to address global health challenges. Through our collaborative open innovation activities, we share access to our proprietary compound library for drug discovery to identify new potentially life-changing drugs.
SDG target 17.9
Through our public-private partnerships, we collaborate with health authorities in low- and middle-income countries to improve the diagnosis and management of non-communicable diseases, such as prediabetes and thyroid disorders. We manufacture some of our products directly in the regions where they are needed in order to build local capacity.
SDG target 17.17
We are actively involved in more than 65 partnerships to advance access to health in low- and middle-income countries.
We partner with a wide range of stakeholders, including international organizations, governments, NGOs, academic institutions, the private sector, and local communities to address global health challenges for the benefit of society and our company.
Targets & Impact
SDG target Our contribution Our material topics 17.6 Sharing innovation Innovation and R&D Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge-sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism. 17.9 Building capacity of health systems Access to health Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the Sustainable Development Goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. 17.17 Creating strong alliances Governance Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.
- SDG target 17.6