NEW YORK — Nestle S.A., Kellogg Co. and Danone S.A. are among 19 companies that have partnered with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in an initiative to protect and restore biodiversity within their supply chains and product portfolios. The coalition, called “One Planet Business for Biodiversity,” launched Sept. 23 at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
Also known as the OP2B, the initiative will focus on three pillars: scaling up regenerative agriculture practices, boosting cultivated biodiversity and diets through product portfolios, and eliminating deforestation/enhancing the management, restoration and protection of natural ecosystems.
“The global food and agricultural ecosystem is critically dependent on biodiversity: from soil regeneration through to water filtration, pest control and pollination, among many of the other building blocks of life on earth,” said Emmanuel Faber, chairman and chief executive officer of Paris-based Danone. “According to many recent scientific studies, we have 10 years to reset our course and bend the curve on climate change and wild and cultivated biodiversity loss. We need a collective effort now.”
Other OP2B members are Balbo Group, Barry Callebaut, Firmenich, Google, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Kering, Livelihood Funds, L’Oreal, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Mars, Inc., Migros Ticaret, McCain Foods, Royal DSM, Symrise AG, Unilever and Yara International ASA. The 19 companies sell products in more than 120 countries and have combined total revenues of about $500 billion.
Protecting soil health through regenerative agriculture practices, the first pillar of focus, will involve keeping carbon in the soil (carbon sequestration), increasing the capacity of soils to hold water, enhancing the resilience of crops, supporting the livelihoods of farmers, and regaining the nutrient density of food while decreasing reliance on synthetic inputs.
Developing product portfolios, the second pillar, will involve increasing the number of ingredients sourced so the food industry is less reliant on a handful of crops. Efforts also will be made to develop provenance-based and local sourcing and to expand the genetic variety of crops. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that of the 6,000 plant species cultivated for food, nine account for 66% of total crop production.
The third pillar will involve protecting and restoring ecosystems, including grasslands, wetlands and forests.
The OP2B coalition by June 2020 expects to have developed systems that members may implement in their supply chains. By October 2020, the coalition expects to disclose commitments and release policy proposals.
“This coalition has specific and ambitious goals that will drive real change in preserving biodiversity,” said Peter Bakker, president and c.e.o. of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a global organization led by c.e.o.s of over 200 businesses. “We know that the path forward will be challenging. However, I am confident that, over time, the OP2B platform will transform existing food and agricultural models and achieve a significant, positive impact for both healthy people and a healthy planet.”
Two companies in the OP2B coalition announced additional sustainability initiatives on Sept. 23.
Mars, Inc., McLean, Va., launched #PledgeForPlanet that will seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and asks Mars suppliers to participate through programming such as signing on to science-based emissions targets. Olam International, which supplies cocoa and palm oil to Mars, has joined.
“Climate change is a real and tangible threat to society,” said Grant F. Reid, c.e.o. of Mars. “For example, in our business, we already see it in the risk to livelihoods for smallholder farmers who provide most of our raw ingredients.
“Risks to the resiliency and sustainability of our supply chain and the future of the farmers we work with is top of mind, but, as a family business that thinks in generations and aspires to make a positive difference in the world, our responsibilities and our ambitions go beyond risk mitigation. We are committed to doing our part for the good of the planet.”
Barry Callebaut, Zurich, signed the “Just Rural Transition.” The multi-stakeholder platform seeks to transform the way in which food is produced and consumed by 2030. Barry Callebaut in its sustainability efforts will support and advise cocoa farmers at individual farm levels by gathering data. The company’s cocoa farm database Katchilè already contains insights on over 380,000 smallholder cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Indonesia and Brazil. Barry Callebaut has a goal of collecting data on at least 500,000 cocoa farms by 2025.
“We joined these two initiatives because impact on the ground is created through the combination of resources and insights from the public and private sector,” said Pablo Perversi, chief innovation, sustainability and quality officer at Barry Callebaut. “Through Barry Callebaut’s farm services business, as well as through our data insights into the structural challenges for individual cocoa farms, we are in pole position to help smallholder cocoa farmers in building the cocoa farms of the future.”