Working Together Towards Sustainable Healthy Diets

by Christian Frutiger, Global Head of Public Affairs
Jul 24, 2018 10:45 AM ET

Originally published on LinkedIn

In September 2015, world leaders unanimously adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the related 169 targets that we must all work towards to ensure a sustainable future.

Every year, the global community comes together at the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York to highlight the efforts that countries, civil society and businesses are making to achieve the SDGs. The Forum is a global hub to exchange ideas and best practices, and promote partnerships to accelerate progress against the 2030 goals. 

The theme of this year’s forum is ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’, and a particular set of SDGs will be reviewed in depth, including Goal 12: ‘Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’.

SDG 12 is crucial because there is an urgent need to transform the way we use food and land. As the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé is contributing our expertise and experience to help achieve sustainable, healthy diets for a growing global population. This is an integral part of our business.

We believe that to be successful in the long term, we have to create value for both our shareholders and society. ´Creating Shared Value’ is the way we do business and live up to our purpose – ‘Enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future’.

At this year’s meeting, I will be sharing some of Nestlé’s initiatives aligned with SDG 12 and the other goals. I also look forward to learning about what more can be done and how we can work with others to deliver tangible business solutions.

What challenges do we face in meeting SDG 12?

Success lies in many factors, not least in agriculture’s resilience to the effects of climate change and its ability to mitigate its significant GHG emissions. Arable land remains under pressure from increased production and more is required to improve livelihoods for smallholder farmers.

In addition to these challenges, the current food system is not delivering the health benefits it should and overconsumption is putting further strain on the agricultural value chain. The system must change to ensure consumption and production are sustainable.

We believe that a sustainable food system needs to take into account nutritional, environmental, social and economic factors. To support this, we have 41 public commitments focused on: nutrition, health and well-being, rural development, water and environmental sustainability, which line up with our commercial goals.

For example, we’ve reduced salt, sugars and saturated fats in Nestlé products, implemented a ´zero waste’ approach in our factories and are pursuing sustainable sourcing practices in our supply chain, in particular for key ingredients like cocoa, milk and coffee. We are also evolving our product portfolio based on vegetables and sustainable plant-based protein.

We can only transform the food system through collaborations and partnerships. A good example of this is our engagement in the joint project between the EAT Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development called, Food Reform for Sustainability and Health (FReSH).

Through this ambitious global business partnership, we turn the conventional ‘farm-to-fork’ approach on its head by working from 'fork-to-farm', to develop, implement and scale transformative ways of doing business aligned with science-based targets. 

We start with consumers, focusing on the dietary changes they need, and work back through the food system to determine what we need to grow, where and how. The ultimate goal is to develop science-based business solutions to create healthy, enjoyable food for all, produced responsibly within our planetary boundaries by 2030.

The HLPF is the perfect forum for change agents to meet and ensure that we deliver on the SDGs. I look forward to making new connections in New York, to being inspired further, and to learning how we can work towards a prosperous and sustainable future for all.