Our collective work is at the dynamic intersection of sustainable sourcing, sustainable agriculture, and international development. Jan-Kees Vis of Unilever, who is deeply engaged in most the industry forums grappling with these issues, shared his sense of the evolving “territory” of key approaches and issues as a context for the Summit.
Jan-Kees Vis, Unilever R&D and Co-Chair of the Sustainable Food Lab Advisory Board welcomed everyone and noted that “it is good to see that so much has changed in the 10 years the Food Lab has been working in this field. One change is that we used to have to explain what sustainability meant and why it mattered. We used to turn to certification, but our ambition was always to make sustainability mainstream. Certification helps you distinguish your product as better and different. But if sustainability is mainstream you want everyone doing this thing. But then we ask whether we can justify the cost of certification. But it is not the tool that will get us there in the end. We must look beyond certification.”
Scale – is certification the right tool? It acts as a differentiator in the market; but if you want to have a transformational change, need a different type of tool to shift whole market. Mainstreaming requires shifting dynamics at different scales.
Beyond certification – going to Landscape level – how do you have assurance at this level? Looking at the province level makes it’s easier.
Another change is that the willingness of intergovernmental organizations to engage with private sector (eg. UN organizations) has increased significantly. There is growing understanding of the need for public private collaboration.
It doesn’t matter where change comes from, as long as it makes a difference on ground for farmers.
Don Seville, Sustainable Food Lab co-director framed the meeting questions as:
- What does inclusivity mean? When is it appropriate to bring smallholders into modern markets?
- How can partnerships lead to deeper change and more innovation?
- How can we move beyond projects to get to practices that are truly replicable and possible at scale?
- How do business and NGO leaders improve their ability to understand the priorities and needs of different sectors and different constituencies of a value chain?
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