COPENHAGEN, 20th October 2023: The third and final day of the SRS began with moderator Isabelle Kumar in conversation with Nathalie Roos, Chief Executive Officer at LIPTON Teas and Infusions, exploring how the company is improving both social and environmental impacts for the communities they reach.

“By collaborating and sharing best practices, I am convinced that we can make the world better, one cup of tea at a time”, said Nathalie Roos. She challenged delegates to ask themselves what difference they can make in their businesses, and what actions they can start implementing straight away to continue to increase positive impact together.

Up next, Sharon Bligh, Health & Sustainability Director at the CGF led a bracing dialogue between Mark Curtis, Sustainability Lead at Accenture Song, Grant Sprick, VP Climate and Environment at Ahold Delhaize, and Facundo Etchebehere, Senior Vice-President for Sustainability, Strategy & Partnerships at Danone on the need to change how sustainability is defined, how we connect to consumers, and what action is stimulated, closing the ‘relevancy gap’ – the gap between where you are now and where you need be in the future.

CGF members are delivering positive impact around the world, and one of the many key regions where members are driving change is Latin America. Claudia Campillo Velasquez, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and General Counsel at Grupo Éxito, and Alejandra Vázquez, Global Sustainability VP at Grupo Bimbo, set out the challenges the region faces, with one in four households unable to afford daily meals, and malnutrition a major concern. In this context, CGF members in the region are working hard to ensure that healthier choices are more accessible to everyone. Alejandra Vázquez concluded the panel session with a call to action, “Whether in Latin America, Europe or around the world, working together will help us reach our goals faster.”

Protecting human rights across multi-layered supply chains is a complex global challenge. While businesses around the world have made major advances to monitor and engage suppliers, more work is needed to ensure visibility at every step of the supply chain. Maria Isabel Cubides Sanchez, Senior Manager, Social Sustainability at CGF, Tracy Murai, Assistant Director, Global Fisheries at Thai Union Group PCL, Helen Ripmeester, Associate Director Inclusive Value Chains and Private Sector at Oxfam, and Paul Lalli, Global VP, Human Rights at The Coca-Cola Company, led discussion on how to ensure human rights due diligence – including the insight that we all need to hear the difficult truths that might well make us uncomfortable, because it’s the only way we can all tackle endemic problems.

After a lively networking break came two Interactive Breakouts, the first exploring how digital solutions can drive preventative health across the customer journey. Jamal Miah, Manager, Sustainability at Kearney, Michael Thomas, Partner, Health & Life Sciences Practice at Kearney and Vicky Edmonds, Social Impact Director at Haleon delved into how brands can partner and collaborate to use technology and data to improve public health impacts for consumers and hard-to-reach populations.

The other Breakout explored the critical need to unify renewable energy initiatives with human rights principles; Gabriela Factor, Chief Advisor, Just Transition at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, and Cathrine Bloch Veiberg, Chief Advisor, Responsible Value Chains, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, looked at issues including how the sourcing of sustainable materials needs to be done in a way that protects local communities, and how manufacturing and processing can raise matters around workers’ rights.

Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) concerns are rapidly moving up the agenda for all businesses, as well as being important for consumers, investors and employees. Rafał Rudzki, ESG Director at Żabka Group, Marie Chantal Messier, Assistant Vice President & Global Head of Food and Industry Affairs at Nestlé, and Caroline Eriksen, Head of the Social Initiatives, Corporate Governance at Norges Bank Investment Management, highlighted the importance of disclosure, transparency and the communication of ESG goals, and company progress towards them, including the impact that ESG policies have on both company’s internal performance and wider society. 

Many businesses are turning to external certifications to help them address the complexities of their supply chain visibility. However, with hundreds of schemes and programmes on the market, it can be a challenge to know which to use. Luiza Reguse, Senior Manager, SSCI at CGF, Jessica Meisinger, Global Sustainability Lead at MSD Animal Health, Reuben Levy, Principal & Consultant at R.F. Levy Corporate Responsibility LLC, Elles de Jonge, Manager Quality and Sustainability European Marketing Distribution (EMD) and Dr. Yogendra Chaudhry, Vice President, Professional Services & ESG, ECO Canada, looked at how CGF’s Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) helps businesses find their way through the maze of sustainability credentials, helping them achieve high levels of supply chain due diligence and build consumer confidence.  

Refreshed after the networking lunch, attendees joined three leaders from TerraCycle Inc for a deep-dive workshop to help companies identify the barriers and opportunities to incorporate sustainability and circular design into their businesses. Tom Szaky, Founder & CEO, Maelys Collard, Strategic Relationships Manager, and Diane Orsel Des Sagets, Senior Director, Retail, spoke about how to eliminate the concept of ‘waste’ – ensuring that ultimately, everything can become circular, used again to maximise value and efficiency. 

The current food system is a primary driver of biodiversity loss and accounts for a third of global greenhouse gases – there is hope however within the power of food businesses and retailers to redesign our food systems and to allow nature to thrive. Isabelle Kumar led a panel discussion between Reniera O’Donnell, Food Initiative Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Big Food Redesign Challenge partners Wouter Vermeulen, Senior Director Sustainability & Public Policy Europe, The Coca-Cola Company, Marija Rompani, Director of Sustainability & Ethics, John Lewis Partnership, and Christina Lampert, Director of Growth & Innovation, HowGood  to talk about the Big Food Redesign Challenge, an EMF initiative to catalyse and inspire the food industry to regenerate nature by applying circular design to food.

The day drew to a close with Special Guest Speaker, François Gemenne, Political Scientist & Researcher informing the audience that though the road to Net Zero is long and filled with roadblocks, there is appetite for change — collaboration will be vital. 

Delegates headed home with new connections, refreshed knowledge and a renewed conviction about the power of collaboration to keep ensuring better lives through better business. Thank you to everyone who joined us at the SRS 2023 and we look forward to seeing you again soon!