2020 Sappi Southern Africa Corporate Citizenship Report


That’s what everyone around the world had to
do in light of the Covid-19 crisis. It’s something
we all have in common, regardless of nationality,
age, gender or culture. We’ve had to adapt the
way we travel, work, communicate and live. And
this common need to adapt has highlighted the
interconnected nature of our being.

Similarly, the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envision economic well-being, social inclusion and environmental sustainability as closely interconnected. They set out a new way to think about the way we value our world.

This aligns with Sappi’s thinking in a year when we close out our 2020Vision and embark on a new business strategy, Thrive25. Our commitment to sustainability as embedded in Prosperity, People and Planet (the 3Ps) is not new, but now underpins our vision: We will be a sustainable business with an exciting future in woodfibre that provides relevant solutions, delivers enhanced value and is a trusted partner to all our stakeholders.

We identified nine priority UN SDGs as the framework to create a thriving organisation, a thriving country and a thriving world. Furthermore, we urge all our stakeholders to join us in our quest.

Because together, we are stronger. Together, we can power our response to adapt to a changing world and build back better.

About the SDGs

The UN SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all UN member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

This report sets out the reasons why we prioritised certain SDGs on a country and company level, how we action them, what our plans are going forward and how our stakeholders can help to action them.

About Thrive25

The Sappi Southern Africa (SSA) strategy is aligned with the Sappi group Thrive25 strategy

Key fundamentals of our Thrive25 strategy


Committing to core business segments while investing in innovation, growth opportunities, and ongoing customer relationships.


Reducing and managing our debt, growing EBITDA, maximising product value, optimising processes globally and strategically disposing of our non-core assets.


Strengthening our safety-first culture and reducing resource use while enhancing efficiency and making smart data investments.


Improving our understanding of — and proactively partnering
with — customers and communities, driving sustainability solutions and meeting the changing needs of every employee at Sappi.

Message from our CEO

The Covid-19 pandemic and its associated challenges have highlighted the fact that it takes great people to add real value. I’m extremely proud of the problem-solving abilities, resilience and collaborative spirit demonstrated by all our people throughout the pandemic. Our people give me the utmost confidence that the we can overcome the uncertainty and changing dynamics created by the ‘new normal’.

What also gives me confidence, moving forward, is that most of our products are essential and manufactured from a renewable natural resource. Together with our ability to be nimble and optimise profitability in ever-changing markets, this puts us in a favourable position to meet the needs of a world increasingly focused on sustainability.

Sustainability has always been important at Sappi Southern Africa, but under our Thrive25 strategy, sustainability is now central to how we do business.

Inherent in this is our understanding that we cannot build a thriving world in isolation. We can only achieve positive change by acting as a responsible corporate citizen and responding to global and local challenges like poverty, education, clean water, climate change and producing more with less, among others. We’ve formalised this response by prioritising certain UN SDGs. We’ve also established 2025 targets in line with these SDGs and will transparently communicate our progress – or lack thereof – against these.

Aligning with certain SDGs is not simply a box ticking exercise – as this report highlights, we have strong business reasons for identifying the SDGs outlined in this report and we have very specific plans to action them.

I call on all our stakeholders to reach out and work with us to help achieve them.

Alex Thiel
CEO: Sappi Southern Africa