July 13, 2021 9:00 am 12:00 pm EDT

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July 13
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9:00 am – 12:00 pm
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The EU green deal’s far reaching implications for Europe’s food agribusinesses has been debated in a first Executive Roundtable in March 2021. It became clear that the general lines are well accepted among business partners. At the same time it became clear that business must lead the transition by incentivizing and supporting farmers and consumers. Business is aware that systemic change in the EU agriculture system is a business opportunity, too: many say it is the best way to keep risk-alert investors on board and at the same time secures continuous ecosystem services on a large scale.

This virtual Executive Roundtable is the second in a series and an opportunity for 40 senior business leaders to debate best practice under the Chatham House Rule.

This is an invitation only event.

“Climate Action for a Green Recovery” – First Executive Roundtable of a Series in Collaboration with Microsoft

On the occasion of awarding the Gold Medal 2021 to Microsoft, the World Environment Center convened an Executive Roundtable to learn from thought leaders and practitioners in key action areas about how an economic and social recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic can draw from solutions for a greener business – especially the urgent challenge to decarbonize our economies. This Roundtable was a dialogue designed to share goals, strategies and practical solutions to scale global decarbonization efforts in ways that deliver economic opportunity and social justice for all communities in the wake of a devastating global pandemic.

We had the pleasure to have speakers join us to provide great insight in key action areas: 

  • Keynote: Climate Action for a Green Recovery: Lucas Joppa – Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft 
  • Clean Technology: Scott Tew – Trane Technologies 
  • Natural Climate Solutions: Marcia Macedo – Woodwell Climate Research Center 
  • Environmental Justice: Aradhna Tripati – UCLA Center for Diverse Leadership in Science 

moderated by Glenn Prickett, President & CEO, World Environment Center 

The Roundtable was held virtually, with 28 senior executives from WEC member companies and other international corporations, as well as senior officials from academia and think tanks.

Read the full summary HERE.

Note:  WEC Executive Roundtables are conducted under the Chatham House Rule.

WEC Hosts Virtual Workshop: “How can Business Collaborate to Achieve Meaningful Impact on Advancing SDGs?” 

On May 20, 2021 WEC hosted the Virtual Workshop: “How can Business Collaborate to Achieve Meaningful Impact on Advancing SDGs?” in collaboration with ERM and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.  

Since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the business community has underlined its support for them, understanding that not just government but all stakeholders together bear responsibility to reach them. Through an exchange of thoughts and practices between global companies, WEC supports business to 

  • Evaluate the value of the SDGs for companies  
  • Share practices on how companies work with the SDGs  
  • Optimize companies’ contribution to the SDGs and find adequate means to measure impact  
  • Take responsibility for specific SDGs and work with business, governments and civil society to achieve them  

Business experts from eight industries in Germany, Ireland, Mexico, UK, and the USA joined the Virtual Workshop to share their advances on working with the SDGs.  

To read the full summary, key point details and additional information, click HERE.

Note:  WEC Executive Roundtables are conducted under the Chatham House Rule.

WEC Virtual Roundtable “How to Achieve Net Positive Water” in Collaboration with Ecolab

Securing reliable supplies of clean, fresh water needed for the health and wellbeing of people, agriculture, industry, and nature will be a greater challenge in more parts of the world as climate change accelerates. Companies across many sectors will face increasing demands from regulators, investors, customers, and shareholders to use water more efficiently and contribute to water availability in the regions where they do business. Leading companies are getting ahead of this challenge by pursuing strategies to become “water positive.” 

On May 11-12, 2021 WEC hosted the Executive Roundtable “How to Achieve Net Positive Water” in collaboration with Ecolab to hear from companies and organizations that have pioneered the approach to share strategies, results, lessons learned and innovative tools. 

Participants included senior sustainability and water experts from seven countries, including global companies, academia, NGOs and Think Tanks. 

To read the full summary, key point details and additional information, click HERE.

Note:  WEC Executive Roundtables are conducted under the Chatham House Rule.

May 20, 2021 10:00 am 11:30 am EDT

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May 20
Time:
10:00 am – 11:30 am
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Join us to discuss business action on the Sustainable Development Goals. Since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the business community has underlined its support for them, understanding that not just government but all stakeholders together bear responsibility to reach them. Many companies have evaluated business opportunities associated with the Global Goals and have thus linked their sustainability programs and reporting with them. Some companies have also worked on methodologies to measure their individual impact. However, progress is still not happening fast enough. Taking responsibility for some SDGs by becoming a driving force for collaboration can result in meaningful impact.

This WEC Roundtable in collaboration with ERM is an opportunity for business executives to discuss under the Chatham House Rule promising initiatives that companies have undertaken and opportunities to do more.

This is an invitation only event.

May 12, 2021 10:00 am 12:30 pm EST

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Date:
May 12
Time:
10:00 am – 12:30 pm
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Virtual Executive WEC Roundtable in collaboration with Ecolab

Securing reliable supplies of water needed for the health and wellbeing of people, agriculture, industry, and nature will become a greater challenge in more parts of the world as climate change accelerates. Companies will face increasing demands from regulators, investors, customers, and shareholders to use water more efficiently and contribute to water availability in the regions where they do business. Becoming “water positive” is a compelling vision: it’s being pursued in a variety of ways without commonly agreed metrics or management tools.

In addition to WEC’s member companies we are inviting companies and organizations that have pioneered the approach to share strategies, results, lessons learned and innovative tools. This is an invitation only event.

This is an invitation only event.

May 11, 2021 10:00 am 12:30 pm EST

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

Details

Date:
May 11
Time:
10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Event Categories:
,
Event Tags:
, ,

Virtual Executive WEC Roundtable in collaboration with Ecolab

Securing reliable supplies of water needed for the health and wellbeing of people, agriculture, industry, and nature will become a greater challenge in more parts of the world as climate change accelerates. Companies will face increasing demands from regulators, investors, customers, and shareholders to use water more efficiently and contribute to water availability in the regions where they do business. Becoming “water positive” is a compelling vision: it’s being pursued in a variety of ways without commonly agreed metrics or management tools.

In addition to WEC’s member companies we are inviting companies and organizations that have pioneered the approach to share strategies, results, lessons learned and innovative tools. This is an invitation only event.

This is an invitation only event.

WEC and Syngenta Convene Executive Roundtable on Business Strategies to Implement the EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy

On March 30, 2021, WEC and Syngenta convened the first of a series of four Executive Roundtables to discuss the EU green deal and key areas of focus and opportunities to accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system. With Petra Laux, Acting CSO, Syngenta and WEC President & CEO, Glenn Prickett opening the Roundtable, the virtual Roundtable brought together 52 senior sustainability, procurement, farming, and government affairs executives from eleven countries. The guiding question for the Roundtable was how ready is the sector to adapt and how will these changes enable farmers and companies to adapt and thrive?

Speakers from food companies, and retailers, academia/NGO/Association & farmers from Agrya, Metro, Soil Association, Soil Capital, Spearhead International, Systemiq, Tesco, and Wageningen University discussed the value of regenerative agriculture practices to farm productivity and the environment, and the key actions needed to drive adoption of those practices.

Key Points:

  1. An introductory poll revealed that 2/3 of participating experts identified the EU farm-to-fork strategy as important to accelerating the transition to a sustainable food system.
  2. With only 8 growing seasons to 2030, critical gaps must be addressed quickly to accelerate system change.
  3. We cannot expect the consumer to drive the transition; instead, the food value chain needs to articulate and establish the business case and align with the regulatory, fiscal and communications frameworks.
  4. Organic food is commonly understood by consumers, is growing in market share. Other nature friendly farming practices are not yet.
  5. Other than organic farming, regenerative agriculture is not mentioned an area of action by the EU Farm-to-Fork strategy, however, business executives find it a practical alternative when organic doesn’t work.
  6. The corporate sector needs to step up and develop transition plans for each part of the sector.
  7. With only 40 harvests in their careers, farmers appetite for risk is low. Food chain partners must support.
  8. Food chain partners must enter a new level of trusted collaboration and shared accountability, giving farmers confidence that there will be a market for nature friendly products.

To read the full summary, key point details and additional information, click HERE.

Note:  WEC Executive Roundtables are conducted under the Chatham House Rule.

March 30, 2021 9:00 am 12:00 pm EST

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Date:
March 30
Time:
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
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More details to come. WEC Roundtable will discuss:

• Strategies to accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture
• Deep dive on science and practices of sustainable agriculture in Europe
• Review of existing European food sector sustainability initiatives

This is an invitation only event.

This event has passed. View summary HERE.

Speakers at the Exec RT shared insights on addressing labor & human rights in their supply chains

Background
The UN guiding principles on business and human rights, the UK Modern Slavery Act, European and other national regulation, as well as many financial institutions, are demanding that companies meet higher social standards to reduce risks and improve their business performance, very much by what has become the norm with environmental necessities. Often, for large companies, their responsibility is expected to go well beyond their operations to include their suppliers. Sponsored by Fresnillo, the World Environment Center & Sostenibilidad Global convened an Executive Roundtable to learn from companies in various industries about their experience with managing human rights, including labor rights, throughout their value chains and to understand how to implement best practices. The Roundtable brought together 41 senior sustainability, procurement, and compliance executives from nine countries, including 55% from international companies 35% from academia/NGO/associations, and 10% service providers.

Participants

Host

·      Exequiel Rolón, Sustainability & Community Relations Manager, Fresnillo plc

Moderators and Facilitators

·         Beveridge & Diamond, Madeleine Boyer

·         Fresnillo: Alicia Sanchez

·         Sostenibilidad Global: Isabel Studer

·         Suseco: Louise Nicholls

·         World Environment Center: Glenn Prickett

Speakers

·         AkzoNobel: Dick Bartelse (retired)

·         Driscoll’s: Baruch Macias Camarena

·         F. Hoffmann-La Roche: Kelley T. Hinds

·         Harvard Kennedy School: Jane Nelson

·         OECD: Roberto Martínez

·         Workforce Disclosure Initiative: Rosie Mackenzie

·         Social Accountability International: Jane Hwang

·         Suseco: Louise Nichols

·         Sustainabill: Willem Bulthuis

Key Points:

  • Poll questions during the Roundtable revealed that almost half of the companies are driven by their ethical commitments to address human rights in their supply chains, while 20% refer to national or inter¬national law or policy, and another 15% have not taken action yet. Only 16% of participants are mostly driven by external demands from business partners and investors while NGO campaigns and media exposure have not been mentioned to be a major factor. When it comes to evaluating the human rights performance of suppliers an encouraging 23% have systems in place to monitor even beyond tier 4, while the majority of 54% are just monitoring tier 1 suppliers. 15% of participating companies do not monitor human rights risks.
  • The Global Policy Environment asks companies to “do no harm and manage risks”: The framework on the social side for business is now the UN Guiding Principles for Human Rights. And this “S”-component in ESG is getting more important. The pandemic has elevated the awareness of vulnerable people and social injustice. Furthermore, in addition to the ongoing “old” human rights challenges associated with inadequate labor conditions, poor wages, and health & safety in global supply chains, digitization, and data mining have created new vulnerabilities in cyberspace. This is not limited to the social media business but extends to data protection in all companies. As human rights are affected by each of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) company governance must be much more strategic on the alignment between their environmental-, procurement- and human resources teams. Hard Law Developments especially in the European Union and some of its national states, but also in the UK, California, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland (where a strict law was recently rejected only by a few votes in a referendum) indicate clearly that “the train has left the station”.

    With these developments ongoing, companies are clearly advised to embed “respect for human rights” in their corporate structures by (a) implementing oversights by the Board of Directors, (b) aligning corporate policies and standards with human rights policies, (c) integrating human rights goals into strategy, culture, and incentives, and (d) undertaking operational and supply chain due diligence. Furthermore, their (e) accountability mechanisms should include grievance mechanisms that workers can use as well as public goals to build trust. (f) Corporate Partnerships can be used to achieve scale while they greatly help to transition from a compliance-driven checkbox mindset to a collaborative learning mindset, which drives innovations and competitiveness.
  • The Regulatory Environment: The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct is the negotiated standard backed by 48 governments, that sets a frame for responsible business conduct (RSB). It defines due diligence as the process companies take to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for adverse impacts on RBC issues. Due diligence is applied to a company’s own operations, business relationships, and supply chain and helps companies to proactively manage risks. Companies should know that they must still demonstrate that they have taken proportionate action to seek to prevent or mitigate impacts linked to their business relationships and suppliers, even when they do not cause or contribute to impacts. It should be noted that slow business action on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance has been a driver for the development of hard law (see above), according to the European Union.
  • Investors are mainstreaming ESG evaluations of their portfolios and integrating Human Rights risk. Recent EY, Stern, and McKinsey studies are showing how investors value good ESG performance (also see results from a Jan 2021 WEC Roundtable). Financial standard setting bodies and governments have recently been publishing new requirements for human rights due diligence on an annual basis, making clear that no company that wants to thrive on financial markets can ignore managing human rights. Amongst the drivers for this development is also a fear that suppliers will not be able to maintain their competitive advantage built on misuse of cheap labor as the younger workforce generation chooses to avoid the hard and unrewarding work. Supply chain resilience is also about respecting human rights!
    When data on labor conditions, wages, or other workers’ rights are not available, investors have started to promote worker-centric disclosure standards; and while those are still under development, they also fund organizations that make this data available through surveys. To manage human rights appropriately companies are strongly advised to integrate ESG with their business strategy.
  • Leading companies are enforcing human rights through a range of methodologies:
    • staff is incenti­vized to take human rights seriously as those are part of their bonus compensation;
    • suppliers are not only asked if they share the same values and have a Code of Conduct in place, but third parties also evaluate if their management systems are suitable to respect human rights;
    • unannounced audits are an essential addition to announced audits;
    • where issues have been found collaboration takes place to correct those deficits, ultimately leading to greater trust and partnership;
    • auditors, trained with SA8000 techniques, talk to workers on-site while separated from any managers;
    • vulnerable people in the supply chain are identified (through algorithms) and solutions to make their life easier are being developed e.g. with governments, such as building adequate infrastructure, guaranteeing safe places to rest, providing access to social security etc.;
    • auditors get into a factory with a mindset of wanting to detect violations, and getting creative about not being cheated by site management;
    • trusted suppliers are rewarded with increased business;
    • suppliers that are constantly non-compliant are replaced;
    • accountability systems are implemented at Board level, human rights steering group, practitioner committee, etc. are implemented, and stakeholder engagement is established and ideally scientifically supported; and
    • partners are invited to raise standards together and to enable suppliers to deliver.
  • Tools are available to understand complex supply chains. Leading companies have heavily invested in systems that identify suppliers as deep as eight tiers already. However, beginners can also benefit from advanced software solutions that help to develop deep supply chain insights. Their key value is not only to map several tiers in supply chains but to help make management decisions, e.g. to find suppliers that need help or to find materials that can be replaced by options that have less impact on human rights.
    Supplier Support Visits have been developed by leading companies in the past 10 years and have become an effective tool to improve performance, create trust, and stabilize relationships. They are investments into retaining selected key suppliers and improving productivity, rather than to certify. Suppliers are incentivized to participate and improve by being rewarded with more business and higher prices. Partici­pating companies are partners and share the common goal to grow the business between both parties.
  • Management Programs to engage with suppliers are numerous and range from:
    • engaging workers to find innovative solutions to the toughest workplace challenges (SAI’s TenSquared Program),
    • advancing health and well-being for waste-pickers in the Circular Economy while connecting them with companies in need of ethically sourced recycled material (SAI’s Inclusive Waste Recycling Consortium (iWrc)),
    • connecting to various supplier capacity building programs.
  • Practitioners advise to just start human rights enforcement journeys – it is about getting going about learning through the process, and about involving people who build a personal connection to the task and hold themselves accountable. To get support from top management, managers are advised to make the topic relevant for their audience: for some this is around financials (risk avoidance or cost avoidance), while for others it may be showing that company standards are being taken seriously and that they are being implemented, no matter what the topic is.

Further resources: (a) Human Rights Due Diligence in High Risk Circumstances: Practical Strategies for Businesses (2015); (b)https://sdg.humanrights.dk/

Note:  WEC Executive Roundtables are conducted under the Chatham House Rule.