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Having not blogged since I started at The Consumer Goods Forum three months ago is testimony to the fact that I have been enjoying myself so much that things such as blogging and tweeting have taken a back seat. Time certainly does fly, and I have learnt so much and come so far in such a short period of time. The first few weeks were spent getting my head around the different working groups, committees, projects and workshops. It’s been quite a journey so far, but I know there is so much further still to go.

 

That said, here are some of the things I’ve noted to be true about working on sustainability and, specifically, how the CGF is best placed to be THE leading platform to help tackle some of the most important issues facing businesses today:

  1. One of the biggest challenges is the issue of measurement and how to measure and value sustainability. Business leaders around the world need to do more to understand what can actually be achieved and what targets they should be setting. There is also concern that the amount of funds invested in environmental and social issues is still small compared with total invested. The CGF remains committed to overcoming the measurement challenge and is currently working with members to find a viable solution.
  2. Pressure is growing exponentially for FMCG companies; particularly those with powerful brands. Global access to real time information is increasing, as are regulatory requirements and voluntarism pressure. The CGF provides the perfect platform for the industry to come together and showcase that positive actions are taking place within the industry and around the world, and helps enable members to get ahead of the regulatory curve.
  3. From my early interaction with a number of CGF members I can already perceive that these companies have got the message, and despite mainstream businesses typically being slow to act, pace of change is increasing through the member companies driving it. CEOs and senior managers are excited around the opportunity of innovation, global access and technology that sustainability represents. I am particularly thrilled about innovation, whether it happens on approaches to deforestation, food waste, recycling or phasing out harmful HFC refrigerants. 
  4. The situation is complex. No one can deny this. However, through the aforementioned working groups, like those on soy, palm oil, paper & pulp, solid and food waste and refrigeration, it’s clear that the industry is willing to come together and find ways to have a positive and tangible impact. Our Sustainability Resolutions on zero net deforestation and the phasing out of HFC refrigerants, our recent soy workshop and fieldtrip to Brazil, our Board’s call for a binding global climate deal and our involvement in the upcoming Business & Climate Summit in Paris are also testament to this. However, there is still much more that can be done.
 
In a recent study by the UN Global Compact, Accenture highlighted that 72% of people globally say business is failing to take care of the planet and society as a whole.
 
I am committed to focus my work on facilitating the interaction among CGF members in search of that vibrant opportunity to frame sustainability in terms of their positive impact on the health, wealth and livelihoods of their consumers and the communities in which they operate, and demonstrating their real, tangible impact. 
 
Consumers expect more from their expenditure than the acquisition of products and services. They demand leadership from brands to overcome the most pressing human and planetary challenges. This is a clear signal to companies that we can’t wait for consumer demand to drive our actions: people expect business to take the lead and here at the CGF we are uniquely positioned, as the only organisation bringing both retailers and manufacturers together globally – to make a genuine difference.
 
It can be done, but we need to work together across the entire value chain and beyond.
 
If you’re interested in learning more or if you want to get involved in one of our working groups, don’t hesitate to get in touch
 

This post was written and contributed by:Ignacio Gavilan
Director, Sustainability Pillar
The Consumer Goods Forum