It’s just a fact of life: we all have to eat and drink. That’s why our food – how it is produced and where it comes from – should also concern us all. Amongst the many challenges of the 21st century, one of the most considerable is ensuring the sustainability of food & beverage value chains. We need to continue to eat and drink healthily and safely, but without destroying the planet and communities from which we draw our very sustenance.
Sustainable sourcing of agricultural raw materials is probably one of the most complex of sustainability challenges. Why? Because supply chains are themselves increasingly elongated and complex. We take this challenge seriously at BSL and want to play our part in unravelling the complexity and breaking it up into manageable parts. So much so, that we are proud to announce our learning partnership with the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform. The SAI Platform is a consortium of some 80 of the world’s most prominent food and beverage companies. It facilitates sharing at pre-competitive level of knowledge and best practice to support the development and implementation of sustainable agriculture practices involving stakeholders throughout the food value chain. By partnering with SAI Platform, BSL can remain at the cutting edge of latest developments in sustainable sourcing of food & beverages. It can also link case studies and research projects jointly carried out with SAI Platform companies to BSL programs and overall thought leadership.
BSL’s Aileen Ionescu-Somers – herself a food and beverage industry strategy and sustainability expert – says
“I have been engaging with the SAI Platform since it was launched in 2002 by three major food & beverage companies: Unilever, Danone and Nestlé. Now, some 15 years later, SAI Platform has an impressive array of some 80 members. This partnership is a fantastic opportunity for BSL to focus on a highly relevant set of sustainability challenges and work on solutions to close the gaps.”
Last week on 6 and 7 June, at BSL, the first BSL-SAI Platform Master Class on Building Sustainable Value Chains took place with the participation of senior sourcing executives from Nestlé, Mars, Arla Foods, UTZ, Coca-Cola, SGS and others….. In addition, expert contributions included high level executives from NGOs and international organizations such as The Forest Trust, WWF Spain, Fairtrasa, Solidaridad, the International Trade Center and The Rainforest Alliance. Stuart Orr, global head of freshwater stewardship for WWF International delivered a riveting keynote speech and pointed out:
“Agriculture uses a full 70% of available freshwater resources worldwide, dwarfing municipal (7%) and even industry (23%) uses! But we must dispel the myth that seeking water efficiencies alone will solve the problem. This approach can even have negative consequences. Producers must move beyond local measurement and look at the bigger picture. We need broader evaluation incorporating community and basin impacts.”
Participants left BSL in high spirits. Here are a few of their parting remarks:
“Great Master Class: what a good experience! Many thanks for a very insightful and enjoyable couple of days!”
“Continue working on this participative and interactive class approach. It was really good!”
“Great course. I learned a lot. Lots of insights! The interaction with companies was very valuable. Nice to have a mix of NGOs and private sector. I would recommend to others. Thank you!”
“Very interesting 2 days, with a lot of new ideas to think about and definitely initiatives worth implementing.”
The BSL-SAI Platform Master Class will be run annually at BSL. Watch this space!
Author: Dr. Aileen Ionescu-Somers
Active in thought leadership, consulting, applied research, teaching and supervising DBA candidates in sustainability & responsibility.