Health for All, Hunger for None – the Vision for Bayer
Yesterday was a novelty in two ways: Firstly, due to the ongoing crisis of COVID-19, Bayer held the first purely virtual AGM in the history of German business. Secondly, I had the opportunity to speak to our shareholders about Bayer's vision, "Health for all, hunger for none”, for the first time. Today, I am using my first post on LinkedIn to share some of my thoughts on the vision in this forum as well.
First of all, a brief personal remark: I am grateful for and feel a bit of relief that our shareholders have expressed their confidence in the entire Management Board and also in me as CEO. This is great news and motivates me a lot as we – as a team – have been working diligently over the past year and have many more plans going forward.
Our new vision, "Health for all, hunger for none", sets the foundation for our future and serves as the mark by which we measure all activity across our company.
Our new vision, "Health for all, hunger for none", sets the foundation for our future and serves as the mark by which we measure all activity across our company. Of course, the goal of “Health for all, hunger for none” will not be achieved overnight – particularly not in a time when hospitals are working at their limits and supply chains are under pressure in many places. However, we at Bayer are convinced that with our scientific expertise and innovative strength, we can make a significant contribution to ensuring that one day this vision becomes reality.
Already more than 100,000 of our employees around the globe are working very hard to bring our vision to life. With our products and services, we help to prevent, alleviate, and even cure diseases. At the same time, we are making an important contribution to a reliable supply of high-quality food and the responsible use of natural resources.
During the current crisis, we are also living up to our responsibility. We are in constant contact with governments, health authorities, charitable organizations and hospitals worldwide to provide concrete and pragmatic support on the ground. From medicines and donations of materials, to our know-how and manpower and urgently needed financial assistance. You can find more information about our contribution to the fight against COVID-19 here. I also spoke about this yesterday at our AGM.
I am convinced that the current challenges emphasize the importance of pursuing ambitious goals as articulated in our vision. Why? I would like to explain this briefly here.
1) Health and nutrition are system critical
COVID-19 has changed the way we look at the world. Suddenly, almost every conversation ends with the words "stay healthy", or "stay safe". For the first time in history, many people in developed countries have experienced what it is like to find themselves in front of empty supermarket shelves.
Suddenly, almost every conversation ends with the words "stay healthy", or "stay safe".
This has shown people, how crucial the health and nutrition sectors are – in times of COVID-19, but of course also beyond. The current situation also shows how important it is that both areas are managed responsibly, across both the public and private sectors. It therefore makes me proud that Bayer is a global leader in these two sectors, and we have an important part to play.
2) Progress needs science
Science is the foundation for making decisive and urgently needed progress in the fields of health and nutrition. If, a few years ago, this statement would have been dismissed as rather obvious or trivial, it is now more relevant than ever – particularly when it occasionally feels that the opinion of a next-door neighbor is given more attention than rigorous scientific investigation.
With COVID-19 we are seeing scientists become the new rock stars with society turning to them for hope.
Often, we are seeing that facts are accepted only if they fit into one's own world view. Now, with COVID-19, we are seeing scientists become the new rock stars with society turning to them for hope. It is becoming clearer to people that without science, we have no chance of fighting the virus. Consequently, the advice of scientists is being listened to again. Whether as advisors to governments, in hospitals or in the development of vaccines, the experts have an important voice again, and that is a good thing.
Science and research play a central role at Bayer.
I sincerely hope that this development will be sustained. After all, science and research play a central role at Bayer. More than 16,000 of our colleagues are working in Research and Development. Last year, we spent €5.3 billion on R&D, more than ever before. We are well aware: Such an ambitious project as "Health for all, hunger for none" can only succeed through innovation.
3) Global challenges require global solutions
In recent weeks, we have seen how the importance of supplying basic goods and services has come to the fore globally. This is not about luxury products for a few, but about basic access to health and nutrition for as many people as possible worldwide.
Global challenges can best be solved if we act in solidarity. This view is also reflected in our sustainability goals.
COVID-19 clearly shows that global challenges can be solved if we act in solidarity, for example by states disclosing infection figures transparently and quickly, or by ensuring the movement of goods, particularly food, seamlessly across borders. This is also seen when research institutes share their findings on a global level, when companies refocus production on needed equipment like masks or respirators, or donate medicines, and when each individual follows rules that limit the further exponential spread of the disease.
We are convinced that an inclusive approach is essential not only in dealing with COVID-19, but also with other global challenges. This view is also reflected in our sustainability goals. With these goals we expressly commit ourselves to reaching several hundred million additional people.
"Health for all, hunger for none" – this vision will shape and drive Bayer forward in the coming years.