Self-assessment of quality of relationships:

Fair to good

Why we engage

Recognising that we are part of the communities beyond our fence lines and that their prosperity and well-being are linked to our own, we strive to make a purpose-driven, meaningful contribution towards their well-being and development. We work to create positive social impact by jointly identifying and leveraging opportunities, thereby demonstrating our commitment to transparency and collaboration.

Community engagement meetings take various formats in our mills in the regions where they operate. These range from broad liaison forums for business, local government and communities to legally mandated environmental forums that form part of the licensing conditions of mills. In South Africa, there are local farmer and community forums related to our forestry communities.

In response to the corona pandemic, we refocused our response to enable rapid community support including through support for local (in our operating communities) clinics, hospitals, feeding schemes and schools. Read more here.

Shared priorities   Our response
Community support
including employment,
job creation, business
opportunities, economic and
social impacts/contributions
and community support


  • Employees are encouraged to nominate and participate in local community projects and events.
  • At a local community level our focus is to add to the well-being, safety and health of our communities. We support various local schools, sports and hobby clubs, forest products industry students, local safety and environmental organisations and local charities.
  • As a pilot project, one of our mills created an opportunity for youth in the community to be Sustainability Ambassadors and engage with sustainability projects.
  • Sappi is a partner in the Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award that encourages talented pioneers to persevere in creating a sustainable world.


  • Each unit has a Community Connections Group to channel local support.
  • Education programmes are supported at targeted colleges and universities as are programmes to encourage study in fields relevant to our operations.
  • Our employees participate in initiatives like Living Lands and Waters and the Charles River Watershed Association focused on environmental stewardship and education.
  • The Ideas that Matter programme continues to recognise and support designers who support good causes. Since 1999 the programme has funded over 500 non-profit projects and has contributed more than US$13 million to a wide range of causes around the world that use design as a positive force in society.
  • The Employee Ideas that Matter programme provides direct funding to the non-profit organisations that our employees are most passionate about.


  • Community support has been bolstered by the creation of a dedicated multi-disciplinary team comprised of the Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) team, the Human Resources team and the Corporate Citizenship team. This structure has been rolled out at each mill site and is referred to as the Community Management Committee (CMC). The purpose of this CMC is to identify shared value opportunities that help identify and support local entrepreneurs as well as to promote the sourcing of goods and services from local suppliers where possible. The CMC also report on the employment of locals and ensures investment in communities addresses specific needs. The CMC at all times aims to collaborate with government, NGOs and the private sector for scale
  • Given South Africa’s significant development needs, the bulk of community support is allocated to this region. Support is directed to education, environment and socio-economic development, based on helping communities help themselves. Initiatives include:
    – Sappi Khulisa, our enterprise development scheme for timber farmers
    – The Abashintshi Youth programme
    – Education throughout the education value chain, including early childhood development (ECD); Khulisa Ulwazi, our    training centres for small growers and two training centres for local unemployed youth at Saiccor and the Ngodwana Mills
    – Support for local tourism through our mountain biking and trail running sponsorships and promoting recreational riding on    Sappi land

Read more: Sharing value with our communities

Opportunities for value creation

  • Enhanced licence to operate and thrive
  • Promoting socio-economic development that could, in the long term, lead to increased demand for our products
  • Initiation of real social mobilisation and change for the better

Challenges for value creation

  • Unrealistic expectations for jobs, supplier opportunities and service delivery
  • Ensuring mutual ownership and commitment