Open Translation

ROME: Former head of TNT, now owned by FedEx, Peter Bakker has been president and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) since 2012. Speaking in advance of the UN Food System Summit in September, he says there is an urgent need to transform the world’s food system to achieve an equitable, net-zero and nature-positive solution for everyone.
“Our world is facing three pressing global challenges: the climate emergency, the loss of nature and growing inequality. In no other system do the three challenges come together in the same way as in the food systems. Incremental change is not enough. The wholesale transformation of our food systems is now urgent and critical to deliver the SDGs.

We now understand the economic numbers behind these challenges. The total annual financial value of the food systems is around US$10 trillion. The total hidden costs for both the environmental and human externalities are estimated at almost double that around US$20 trillion.

The vision is clear: an equitable, net-zero and nature-positive food system that nourishes all people.

“We can apply lessons learned to the food systems from the climate agenda where the UN successfully delivered the Paris Agreement and triggered an inevitable decarbonisation of our economies:

First, science has become undisputed and clear under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the science-based targets are mobilizing massive action; second, having an annual COP meeting serves to mobilize awareness and action by all stakeholders; third, trust between all constituents has grown as a result of the many COPs; and last, solutions by business and others are now leading the decarbonization of our economy.

If we project these lessons onto the food systems, we may find guidance on how to mobilize action.

Science – The Food Systems Summit Science Committee has done great work progressing our understanding of the various challenges, but more is needed to get to a consensus on the environmental impacts, the composition of healthy diets and not in the least the true value economics of the system. A call for an IPCC for food needs to stay on the agenda.
Meeting and Accountability - The Food Systems Summit proofs that having a global meeting can create global mobilization. We must not limit this to a one-off event and find a way to measure progress.
Trust - I want to applaud the effort of the many National Food Systems Dialogues that have been held around the world, as it is only through these multistakeholder convenings that we can build trust and deepen the understanding of the national and regional challenges facing the food system.
Solutions – this is where business will have a big role to play to develop and implement better agricultural practices and offer healthy food. I am happy to report that Business is ready to step up.

Last year, I was invited to be a member of the Food Systems Summit Advisory Committee to support business mobilization. The Private Sector Guiding Group was set up with about 30 business associations and four CEO consultations were held with well over 200 CEOs participating.

In the consultations, it became clear that business recognises the urgent need to transform the food systems, and that this can only be achieved by including farmers, women, youth and indigenous people, respecting the rights and dignities of all people.

While that sounds positive, I am aware that business might not always be the favourable part of the solution according to some. Yet, we need to collaborate, and it is through dialogue in a Summit like this one, we all build bridges to achieve change.

Today, we announce the launch of the Business Declaration on Food Systems Transformation, in which businesses commit to help lead the food systems transformation by implementing actions in companies, value chains and sectors.

It has not been easy to establish the language of this declaration, which is symbolic for the early stage of the food systems transformation. We do not yet have an agreed set of words to use. Still today I hear words that are solutions to some, be divisive to others.

I am happy to report that the declaration has already been signed by hundreds of global leaders from businesses and related associations – and is open to more signatures until the Food Systems Summit in September.

The declaration sets out six commitment areas for business towards the food systems transformation:

• Scale science-based solutions that focus on the transition towards sustainable food and agriculture business models,
• Provide investments in research and innovation to support food systems transformation across the value chain,
• Contribute to improved livelihoods and wellbeing across food value chains,
• Incentivize consumers as agents of change towards healthy and nutritious diets for all,
• Create transparency by integrating environmental and social risks and impacts in governance, the principles of true value of food, and reporting,
• Ensure the transformation includes a just transition for people everywhere.

I look forward to engaging actively in the Food Systems Summit because together, we can create the momentum towards an equitable, net-zero and nature-positive food system that can nourish all people.
WBCSD member companies come from all business sectors and all major economies, representing 19 million employees and generating combined revenue of more than US$8.5 trillion.
Story Type: Comment

Vote for my Story

Our Rating: 9% - 1 votes

1000 Characters left

March 19, 2024
Food Editor

Still butchering the planet

LONDON, UK: A report by environmental organisation Feedback says the world’s 55 largest industrial livestock companies have received over US$615 billion in financing since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2016. As of March 2023, it included US$287.8 billion…
January 30, 2024
Food Editor

Transforming food systems creates multi-trillion dollar benefit

OSLO, Norway: A new report says current food systems destroy more value than they create with over US$10 trillion in annual human suffering and planetary harm. A group of economists and scientists suggest a new food pathway will provide socio-economic…
September 04, 2023
Food Editor

Food industry faces circular economy redesign

LONDON: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Sustainable Food Trust have launched a challenge for the food industry to create new or re-designed products using circular design principles that regenerate nature. By transforming the way products are made,…
August 21, 2023
Food Editor

Ending hunger by 2030 target will not be reached

ROME/GENEVA: Five UN agencies report 735 million people face hunger worldwide - over 122 million more people since 2019 due to the pandemic, repeated weather shocks and conflicts including the war in Ukraine. The goal of ending hunger by 2030 will not be…
May 05, 2022
Food Editor

Putin’s War reveals fragile food supply chain

WARSAW: An international donor conference has raised US$6.5 billion for humanitarian aid to 7.7 million Ukrainian citizens internally displaced and a further 5.5 million now refugees in other countries. After 10 weeks of Russia’s invasion, a new report from…
February 17, 2022
Food Editor

Self-destruction costs US$1.8 trillion a year

LONDON: Governments are subsidising the destruction of the earth’s ecosystems by companies to the tune of US$1.8 trillion annually, according to research commissioned by The B Team and Business for Nature. The first study in over a decade to put a value on…
February 11, 2022
Food Editor

Louis Dreyfus makes ethical supply chain move

ROTTERDAM: Food commodity trader Louis Dreyfus (LDC) has committed to eliminate deforestation and the conversion of conservation value vegetation for agriculture from all its supply chains by the end of 2025. Founded in 1851 the French company sources,…
January 14, 2022
Food Editor

Unilever to determine we are what we eat

NATICK, MA/LONDON, UK: Unilever has partnered with gut researchers Holobiome to identify food and drink ingredients that could have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. According to Unilever many scientists consider the human gut microbiome, where trillions…
October 06, 2021
Food Editor

Mars links executive compensation to climate action

MCLEAN, VA: Food manufacturer Mars has set a science-based climate target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 while challenging its 20,000 suppliers to drive change across its full value chain, including Scope 3 emissions. The company…
September 15, 2021
Food Editor

Too Good to Go takes off with SWISS

GENEVA: SWISS is collaborating with Too Good To Go, the food app that connects consumers with food that would otherwise be thrown away. Founded in Copenhagen in 2015, the Certified B Corp says it has since saved 348 million pounds of food, the equivalent of…
July 30, 2021
Food Editor

A billion tons of food wasted as another 100 million people go hungry

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar: The World Food Programme (WFP) says over 500,000 children are facing irreversible damage to their growth after four years of drought in southern Madagascar caused by human-induced climate change. “While we are rushing to space, 41…
July 22, 2021
Food Editor

Driven to waste - the global impact of food loss

NAIROBI/LONDON: A report by WWF and the UK supermarket chain Tesco says 40 percent of all food is wasted while emitting 10 percent of global greenhouse gases (GHG). WWF Media officer Lilian Gikandi says there’s a better solution to wasting 2.5 billion tonnes…

We are using cookies

By continuing you are agreeing to our use of cookies

I understand