WBCSD’s Diane Holdorf and our approach to food system transformation

Published: 15 Jan 2019
Type: News

Current food systems are outstripping the resources of the planet while current diets are resulting in global health crises of both over- and under-nutrition. All this will be amplified by a continuing growth in population and changes in dietary habits.  How will we ensure our ability to create a food system that supports a population over nine billion by 2050, while sustaining and regenerating ecosystems and natural resources?

WBCSD worked with over 80 companies to develop a vision for the Food and Land-use system. Achieving a Healthy People, Healthy Planet vision will require unprecedented global action which must urgently move several levers of system transformation at the same time.  Leadership action is required across the value chain of nutrition and health, livelihoods and human rights, biodiversity and ecosystems, and climate mitigation and resilience. Projects in our Food, Land & Water Program develop and implement business solutions which address key challenges of food and land use systems.

In December 2018, Diane Holdorf joined WBCSD as a Managing Director for the Food, Land and Water Program, working together with WBCSD’s teams, members and network towards our shared vision of Healthy People and a Healthy Planet. 

Diane, could you tell us a bit more about how WBCSD’s Food, Land and Water members and partners see food system transformation and why action is needed?

“Our future depends on our ability to create a food system that supports healthy people and a healthy planet.

Achieving our Healthy People, Healthy Planet vision, which was developed with our members, will require unprecedented global collaboration which must urgently move several levers of system transformation at the same time. This is why we need leadership action across the value chain.

Together with our members, we look at this from a fork to farm perspective, with nutrition and health and livelihoods and human rights on the one side of the value chain, and biodiversity and ecosystems but also climate resilience and GHG mitigation on the other side of it.”

What is the role of business?

“The role of business in achieving food systems transformation is to develop and implement ambitious science-based solutions which reflect regional and cultural preferences. Business has a tremendous opportunity to lead the change, helping to mitigate risks and to create new market opportunities.

Research publications and scientific targets, intertwined with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, establish boundaries to achieve healthy diets from sustainable food systems.

Ambitious science-based business solutions will transform food systems within those boundaries through innovation, valuation and collaboration, keeping people at the center in ways that are equitable and responsible.”

Could you name a few examples?

“Many of our members individually, and through WBCSD programs and projects, are already innovating to shift toward healthy diets, halve food loss and waste, and drive technology- and management-related changes in agriculture and food production.  

We have good examples of projects that deliver impact at scale, such as a data enabled climate solutions project in Ghana, work in sustainable rice landscapes in South East Asia, a Sustainable and Healthy Diets report reviewing existing dietary guidelines and identifying gaps for future action, a public-private partnership to significantly reduce food loss and waste in Jakarta, Indonesia, and a pilot project on the reduction of added sugar in Mexico.

We have been facilitating our members’ approach to working on true cost accounting and guidance for risk assessment. And in addition to representing the voice of private sector leadership in key global events and platforms, we convened multi-stakeholder Science to Solutions Dialogues through our FReSH project to help address concrete actions to help achieve dietary shifts.”

Is there anything else we should know for now?

“2019 is going to be a pivotal year of change, starting with this week’s launch of the EAT-Lancet Commission report ‘Our Food in the Anthropocene: Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems’ outlining scientific targets.

Watch this space or get in touch with us if you want to find out more or want to contribute to leading this change.”

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