The value of nature for the Food & Beverage industry
Natural capital is key for the functioning of many businesses but is particularly relevant for those operating in the Food & Beverage industry which directly impacts and depends on the services and resources provided by nature.
Natural capital underpins the steady supply of valuable resources for the Food & Beverage industry: healthy soils, rich biodiversity and a stable climate are key to ensure the continuity of business operations. According to the Food & Agriculture Organization (2018), 87 of the leading food crops worldwide are affected by pollination for their production. With current food systems outstripping the planet’s resources, the supply side of food is becoming increasingly vulnerable.
The Food & Beverage sector also has a great potential to influence positive change; developing a food and beverage system that supports healthy people and a healthy planet will create a business opportunity that benefits us all. WBCSD’s Vision 2050 and more particularly, the food transformation pathway, outlines key transitions and actions that business can lead on to transform the food system.
Adopting a natural capital lens enables businesses to fully understand their relationship with nature and assess their impacts and dependencies, leading to more informed decisions.
The challenge to incorporate natural capital into business decision-making
To better understand how the Food & Beverage sector is progressing on its natural capital journey, Nature^Squared together with We Value Nature organized a Food & Beverage Roundtable Discussion on 7 May 2020. The Roundtable provided useful insights into the key challenges and needs to accelerate the natural capital journey of Food & Beverage companies:
- Food & Beverage companies often operate in complex and intransparant supply chains, making it challenging to organize sustainable change where it matters most: at the level of agricultural production.
- Many businesses are just starting their natural capital journey and wish to collaborate and learn from others. There is a need for honest stories, focusing on the practical elements (money/time invested) as well as the challenging moments.
- Many businesses struggle to get internal buy-in to push the sustainability agenda across departments. Language barriers need to be overcome to extend natural capital to the entire organization so that it can become truly strategic and incorporated into all decision-making processes.
Newly developed training materials on natural capital tailored to the Food & Beverage sector
During the Food & Beverage Roundtable Discussion, training was identified as a key effort needed to address some of the challenges and help the sector advance on its journey.Nature^Squared together with We Value Nature adapted existing training modules on natural capital by tailoring the content to the Food & Beverage sector and its specific needs, challenges and opportunities. In addition, a variety of supporting materials were developed to help Food & Beverage companies progress on their natural capital journey and address their key challenges. These include:
- Natural Capital Stories from Food & Beverage companies,
- An infographic connecting natural capital to key sustainability efforts,
- A network analysis of relevant networks in the sector, and
- Persona actions cards to support internal buy-in.
All materials have been developed in close consultation with professionals from the Food & Beverage sector to ensure that they are as relevant as possible and match their needs. The materials have been further strengthened through feedback calls with experts in the field.
All the materials can be found on the We Value Nature website and are freely accessible under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (CC BY 4.0) which means that you are free to share and adapt the resources as long as you provide appropriate credit.
Now is the time to get started with natural capital!
Now is the time for Food & Beverage businesses to learn, improve and advance on their journey. The training and support materials are great resources to help you get started. Other businesses leading on natural capital have shared through their story insightful and practical tips, such as:
- Find the right entry point to communicate about natural capital and keep the language plain and simple to get your colleagues and stakeholders on board (Metro AG, The Coca-Cola Company),
- Connect natural capital thinking with business outcomes by reflecting on the link between material natural capital elements and key business activities (Metro AG, The Coca-Cola Company),
- Analyze the environmental risks that your company faces and its related costs. This could help inform a new way of measuring return on investment (Metro AG, The Coca-Cola Company),
- Show strong personal leadership and focus on what you can do: “these small actions can create lighthouse moments for the new normal” (Volkert Engelsman, CEO at Eosta) (Metro AG, EOSTA).
You are not alone in getting started working with natural capital. There are a lot of others who are learning and experimenting on the topic. “When you don’t know how on earth to get started on this journey, don’t be afraid to turn to friends or contacts that do” (Volkert Engelsman, CEO at Eosta).
Through the training materials, we aim to reach as many professionals that wish to learn how to integrate natural capital in their business, and hence mainstream natural capital thinking in the Food & Beverage sector.
The Food & Beverage sector cannot neglect its close connection to natural capital. Are you interested to advance your natural capital journey? Please join the We Value Nature trainings and Virtual Office Hour Calls which offer an opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, and learn from peers in a collaborative, supportive space.
We are excited to officially launch the Food & Beverage training materials during the upcoming Virtual Office Hour Call on 20 May, 11:00 – 12:00 CET. Find out more and register.