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We have always said that sustainability has to be about profits as well as planet, people and animals. When you look at companies that have embraced sustainability, you find that they have done so in the same same holistic way that we use to define sustainability. If sustainability becomes non–negotiable, then it goes without saying that it is also profitable for those companies.
Achieving Your Sustainability Goals Does Not Mean Sacrificing Profits
By Kevin Piccione, What's New in Food | August 16, 2018
Nearly 90% of business leaders believe that sustainability is essential to remaining competitive and despite the clear link between sustainability and profit, only 2% of companies either achieve or exceed their sustainability goals.
At this year's World Economic Forum in Switzerland, it was identified that the most sustainable companies are not just doing good for society, they're also thriving financially. In fact, since 2005, the most sustainable businesses have outperformed their peers by nearly a third.
But with a mere 2% achieving their targets, what is it they're doing that fuels their success? Sustainable businesses succeed because sustainability is a non–negotiable business priority that aligns with their company goals. An unwavering commitment to company goals means it's unlikely that sustainability initiatives come undone.
Conversely, failing to align sustainability and business objectives is a common reason sustainability programs fall off the radar and companies miss their sustainability targets. In fact, only 25% of business leaders indicate that their companies have developed a clear business case for sustainability.
To follow up on the above; given that sustainability must also be profitable, we should not be too surprised that agriculture is moving in that direction. We do recognise the obstacles – up front investment will be an issue for producers worldwide, but where financial institutions play a positive role in linking sustainability to lending, rapid progress can be made.
Farming Moving in 'Healthy Direction'
Innovators Magazine | August 28, 2018
A new report suggests a third of farms worldwide are adopting more environmentally friendly practices.
Research published in the journal, Nature, examined the application of what's termed 'sustainable intensification' – methods that use 'land, water, biodiversity, labour, knowledge and technology to both grow crops and reduce environmental impacts like pesticide pollution, soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions'.
The study states that around one–tenth of global farmland is under a level of sustainable intensification, and that it's producing 'dramatic results'. One example given is from Cuba, where 100,000 farmers have 'increased their productivity 150% while cutting their pesticide use by 85%'.
I want to preface the following article by saying I don't agree with what is contained in this "Flunking the Planet " report but I am quoting it because it is important that GRSB members are aware of this report as it will be widely quoted. It also raises the question of how we avoid such critical reports in the future. One suggestion from a GRSB member is that we consider using the national frameworks of roundtables that already exist or are being created to form the basis of commitments by members to sustainability goals. This merits discussion by our members.
U.S. Food Companies "Flunking the Planet," Report Claims
Greg Henderson, AgWeb | August 2, 2108
Scathing new report blames major food companies for "massive water pollution, dead zones" and "climate change."
Mighty Earth, a non–governmental organization (NGO) has issued "Flunking the Planet: Scoring America's Food Companies on Sustainable Meat," a survey of 23 major brands representing the largest fast food, grocery and food service companies in the U.S. "This year's massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is being driven by major food companies who have no environmental standards for meat," according to Mighty Earth's statement about their survey.
That claim, however, seems contradicted by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who announced Tuesday that the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone is only about 40% its average size this year. NOAA said the dead zone, an area with low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life, is the fourth smallest since they started mapping the area in 1985.
Place Talks Sustainable Beef Production
High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal | August 28, 2018
Sara Place, a senior director with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, says producers not only need to think sustainably, they need to talk about it, too. Watch the 2:13 video HERE.
I really do not agree with the conclusion that livestock are incompatible with healthy ecosystems, or that their total removal would be in the best interests of the lands that this testimony refers to – though I don't have first hand knowledge of the areas he is talking about, so I cannot comment as to the extent of the problem. While different species graze or browse differently, the biggest difference, as always, is management. We know that regenerative management of grazing using domestic livestock can reverse many of the problems identified in this report. So the problem is not the livestock, but the way they are managed. Protection of river banks is standard in many parts of the world, and managing grazing to optimise ground cover, productivity and soil organic matter makes good economic and environmental sense. While this testimony attacks livestock, I would say it is simply evidence of the need for better and more sustainable livestock management.
The Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Western Public Lands
Testimoy of Erik Molvar, Federal Lands Subcommittee Hearing | July 9, 2018
The grazing of domestic livestock on federal grazing leases represents the most widespread cause of environmental impacts on western public lands. While oil and gas development garners the greatest amount of media attention, as it represents a spectacular environmental trainwreck, livestock grazing is like a slow and invisible cancer that is insidiously and inexorably killing native ecosystems over vast areas.