Making a shared contribution

Since 1879, Funk has strived to protect companies’ values for the future. Alongside these individual values, there is one value of shared importance among all of us: nature conservation. We must protect the natural world for the sake of our children and grandchildren, which is why Funk is involved in the planting of mangroves in Myanmar. We started in 2019 with 140,000 trees, currently 52,800 more mangroves are being planted. Read on to learn more about what mangroves do for climate protection, how our planting campaigns go off and what corporate social responsibility continues to mean for Funk.

 

Mangroves grow in coastal regions and draw greenhouse gases out of both the sea and the air. │ Photo: Worldview International Foundation

Mangroves for a better climate

One of the world’s most pressing issues is climate change. The greenhouse gases produced by humans constitute one large problem here. Once released into the atmosphere, they contribute to the rise of the Earth’s temperature. The consequences of this include the melting of the glaciers, rising sea levels and extreme weather. Some greenhouse gases, however, are absorbed by the ocean, leading to increased acidity in the water and putting countless species of marine animals at risk, such as corals.

Plants can break down greenhouse gases and convert them into oxygen. Mangroves in particular are very effective at this. These trees grow in tropical coastal regions and thrive in seawater. They not only clean the air, but also filter the sea – and make ideal habitats for fish, birds and marine mammals.  Therefore Funk has decided to support mangrove reforestation projects and to plant a total of 192,800 seedlings in 2019 and 2020.

Rebuilding mangrove forests can also prevent natural disasters. │ Photo: Worldview International Foundation

Rebuilding the forests

Both planting areas are located in the Ayeyarwady region of Myanmar. Here, with the support of Funk, a sustainably managed mangrove ecosystem is being established. The projects not only makes a valuable contribution towards climate protection but also serve to reduce the risk posed by natural disasters: mangrove forests form a natural protective wall against storm surges. 

Planting mangroves is urgently needed, as the number of these trees around the world is rapidly dwindling. Mangrove forests are being cleared, for example, to create shrimp farms, rice fields or palm oil plantations. The trees are harvested for use as firewood or construction timber. Reforestation projects aim to counteract this commercial exploitation.

These seedlings will grow into an entire forest. │ Photo: Worldview International Foundation

84 hectares of fresh green

To mark the occasion of Funk’s 140th anniversary, 140,000 mangroves were planted in the soil – or rather, in the marshy ground. In 2020, 52,800 trees are added. This results in two forests measuring 84 hectares, the equivalent of around 84 football pitches.

The local community was involved in the planting – this means job creation and contributes to the security of the livelihood of the local population. Further education and infrastructure in the region are also improved through the projects. The planting in 2019, for example, was part of the project "Mangrove reforestation and sustainable livelihood", which is specifically dedicated to the reforestation of mangrove forests.

Thomas Abel, managing partner at Funk, next to the symbolic tree on the rooftop terrace.

Mangroves for Myanmar and a pine tree for Hamburg

To address the topic of climate protection closer to home, a pine tree was also planted on the rooftop terrace of the Hamburg headquarters on Funk’s birthday on 21 May 2019. A plaque informs employees and visitors about the mangroves in Myanmar. ‘We would have loved to have planted a mangrove, but it would not have been happy here,’ says Thomas Abel, Managing Partner at Funk. ‘But the pine is now cleaning our city air here in Hamburg. And most importantly, it is a symbol of how important climate protection is for us all.’

The efforts have paid off: This is what a part of the first Funk forest looks like after a year. │ Photo: Worldview International Foundation

A success for nature

The mangroves from 2019 have now celebrated their first birthday – and are already improving the surrounding ecosystem. The seedlings are well rooted and thus help to consolidate the soil. At the same time, the steady growth leads to a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And the animal world has also discovered the mangroves for itself: fish and other creatures are already using the new trees as safe retreats and storage places for their eggs. 

Funk's plantations are not only a success for the environment, though, but also for science. As part of the project, the first mangrove gene database in Myanmar was created, which currently contains 64 mangrove species and makes an important contribution to the preservation of biological diversity. Among other species, the Rhizophora mucronata and the Bruguiera cylindrica grow in the Funk forest.

 

From greenhouse to nature: how the funk forest has developed in one year

The mangroves have grown up in a greenhouse near the planting area in Myanmar. | Photo: Worldview International Foundation

140,000 trees have been waiting here to become part of a sustainably managed ecosystem. | Photo: Worldview International Foundation
The local community was involved in the planting in the northern part of the Ayeyarwady region. | Photo: Worldview International Foundation
On the banks of the river Poe Laung, the new mangrove forest also forms a natural barrier against storm waves. | Photo: Worldview International Foundation
In the swamp soil, the seedlings now develop into large mangrove trees that purify the air and filter the sea. | Photo: Worldview International Foundation
Thanks to the care of the local population, the seedlings have already grown strongly after one year. | Photo: Worldview International Foundation
From a bird's eye view, it is easy to see where the new Funk mangroves complement the existing forest. | Photo: Worldview International Foundation


New trees for the banks of the river Poe Laung

Construction of a kindergarten in India

Cooperation with the PATRIZIA Foundation

Although the Hindu caste system has been officially abolished in India, the mentality associated with it lives on. Especially in rural regions, such as Govindpur in northern India, the system still determines the choice of profession and partner, as well as rank in society – from childhood onwards. To support the youngest, the PATRIZIA Foundation has launched a new project in Govindpur funded by Funk: the construction of a kindergarten. Since 1999, the independent foundation has been pursuing the goal of providing access to education for as many children as possible worldwide. In the new kindergarten, castes play no role, all children are welcome. The reform pedagogical approach emphasises the uniqueness of each child and thus stands in stark contrast to most teaching institutions in India. Wolfram Nieradzik, member of the Management Board of Funk and initiator of the commitment, says: “India is a multifaceted, interesting country – and yet two aspects bother me: the division into castes and the position of women. We are happy that with the PATRIZIA Foundation we can shake up this way of thinking and offer many children the chance of a fairer and more promising future.”

Alliance for Development and Climate

We're in! 

A broad social alliance that works together for more sustainability and global climate protection: That’s the Alliance for Development and Climate. Since 2019, Funk is one of over 450 supporters who have joined the Alliance. In addition to other companies, associations, authorities, project developers, compensation providers and representatives of civil society are also part of the alliance. The alliance was initiated in fall 2018 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

The aim of the supporters is to promote the achievement of the goals of the Paris Convention – as well as the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To meet these challenges and to focus political attention more strongly on climate protection, the Alliance relies primarily on the leverage effect of CO2 compensation projects. For example, biogas or solar plants are being built in developing and emerging countries that not only offset CO2 emissions but also improve local living conditions. 

More information about the Alliance for Development and Climate

Social and economical sustainability at Funk

Funk Foundation

The non-profit Funk Foundation was founded by Funk shareholder Dr Leberecht Funk and his wife Maritta to support research projects in the fields of risk and risk management. The aim is to increase acceptance of risk management even more in day-to-day operations. The Funk Foundation also supports cultural projects.

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Family-run company

Above all, Funk's business decisions must be sustainable. This principle is established even in the company’s structure: Funk is a family-run company, currently in its fifth generation of leadership. That’s why Funk thinks long-term rather than making short-sighted moves – to maintain its values and grow in a sustainable way.

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Responsible employer

As an employer of 1,320 people, Funk also recognises its social responsibility: numerous benefits ensure that Funk employees feel well supported and are able to combine their family and work lives. Funk also helps train young people and supports employees of all ages in the Funk Academy. 

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Funk as a sponsor of the National Scholarship Programme

The German National Scholarship Programme provides financial support to talented, high-achieving students. Every euro donated by private sponsors for the scholarship recipients is matched by the government. With ten scholarship recipients currently, Funk is one of the largest sponsors for Hamburg University. The students specialise in the areas of business management, law and industrial engineering.

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