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Executive Director's Message
The week before last saw many GRSB members and others with an interest in beef sustainability gather in Chicago for a series of meetings hosted at McDonald's headquarters.
First of all, I would like to thank all of you who took the time to attend and participate so enthusiastically; a multi stakeholder organisation such as GRSB relies on our members to make things happen and with over a hundred participants from 13 countries at these meetings we certainly did cover a lot of ground in four days.
The first in the series was our strategic planning meeting, which built upon the input we received from you through the survey and interviews over the past two months. Thirty members from around the world spent the day looking at what we have done so far in line with our previous strategic plan, what we envision GRSB achieving in the coming 10 years, and refining the plan accordingly. There was a good level of consensus around additions to be made, centred around the need to set goals or challenges for us as a network to achieve, with associated SMART targets.
With these comes the need for a system to measure and report on progress. We also need to involve a wider range of stakeholders to reach the whole chain. When complete, the updated plan will be presented to members and we will start the process of filling in the details – i.e. requesting participation in working groups to define the goals, reporting systems and associated work.
The second of our Chicago meetings was the communicators summit, for which we had one hundred and twenty participants from all over the world. This helped add detail to the communication part of our strategic planning discussion. It was also a useful opportunity for members to discuss how and what they communicate about beef sustainability and consider how the beef industry needs to position itself in the coming years.
The summit was intended to be the first step in a more active engagement with members around communication on sustainability, so we also looked at some of the science around beef sustainability, particularly with regard to GHGs, and will be organising online events to look at other areas in the coming months. On the second morning of the communicators summit, we welcomed Howard Parry–Husbands from Pollinate in Australia to facilitate a design thinking workshop around communication, something he has been actively involved with in Australia with both the forestry and beef industries.
To follow up on the summit, a number of volunteers have offered to reinvigorate our communications council and come up with a defined objective, strategy, process and milestones for the Board and EC's consideration to ensure that will result in a compelling, inclusive, credible and aligned global beef sustainability narrative to be leveraged by GRSB constituents and roundtables.
Our Thursday afternoon board meeting took a deeper dive into Phase 1 of the GHG project, with a presentation by Viresco Solutions on the work they have done. What was certainly clear from this is the fact that there are a lot of inconsistencies in which GHG work is currently handled and a number of question marks on how to account for carbon sequestration in soils and for methane emissions. Viresco did an excellent job of looking at the methodologies and tools being used around the world, and it is clear that we now need to build consensus on priorities going forward. I know that many member organisations will already be working on some of these issues, and that they are important for the beef industry as a whole, so I would like to ask you to become involved in this work by introducing any of your colleagues with expertise in the area of GHGs to participate in phase 2 of this project.
On Friday we held our regular board meeting in which we heard from all of the national roundtables present, including Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil, , US, Canada, New Zealand and Europe. Five new members (3 from Latin America) were proposed and accepted by the board. They will be introduced to you through Connect when on–boarding is complete.
We also agreed on the dates for our board meeting to be held in New Zealand; 12th, 13th and 14th of November which will include a field visit. Details on the program and location will follow shortly, but please save these dates if you can possibly make it to New Zealand, I know that it will be a very interesting trip, particularly for those who have not visited the country. Another important decision taken was that the location of the 2020 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef will be in Paraguay! The dates are as yet undecided, but the usual time of year for the conference is at the end of the third quarter. Many thanks to the Paraguayan Roundtable for being willing to host the conference and presenting the opportunity to the board of directors in Chicago.
I have selected a number of articles this week that vary in tone. Notice the difference between defensive, reactive articles, and the more proactive. Messages for different audiences will undoubtedly vary in tone; we should remain aware of the power of words to exacerbate or diffuse a difference of opinion.