World Environment Day: How to build sustainability through responsible sourcing

Preserving the ecosystem and ensuring sustainable practice across the value chain is vital for a better future. Therefore adopting climate-smart practices is need of the hour

Updated: Jun 3, 2022 06:10:35 PM UTC
Businesses should also aim to bring about positive and sustainable change while aiding the resilience and prosperity of the farming community and the stakeholders across its value chain. Image: Shutterstock

Time is of the essence, as our habitat is changing rapidly. Sustainability needs to be at the centre stage, and it is our collective responsibility to work towards it. The theme for World Environment Day 2022 is 'Only One Earth', highlighting the need for 'living sustainably in harmony with nature,' aiming at 'transformative environment change'.

Today, we have reached a point where we are constantly reminded that our world needs action, it needs protection, and, most importantly, it needs our attention. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "The future depends on what we do in the present." Our actions of today will have implications on the future that a generation will inherit tomorrow. Therefore, we must stay accountable and consciously progress towards paving a better tomorrow.

Focus on sustainable, resilient and responsible supply chains

A transparent, sustainable and resilient supply chain is the need of the hour. Sustainable food systems rely on sustainably produced ingredients, which begins with traceability, responsible sourcing, and adopting climate-smart practices.

Businesses must act as responsible environmental stewards and strive to continuously source their raw materials responsibly, protecting the land, soil, trees, and water. These are the resources that we rely on while traversing the farm to fork journey.

By focusing on regenerative agriculture and inculcating good agricultural practices, companies should take steps to reduce the degradation of the environment while simultaneously optimising production measures through a comprehensive action plan. This could be achieved through conservation and optimal utilisation of all resources, reducing waste to zero, good soil health, reducing water wastage, no pesticide residues, and focusing on the economics of cultivation and forest and biodiversity enhancements. Additionally, having a strong sourcing guideline—combined with conducting regular quality checks—is an important step in that direction.

Partnering for a better tomorrow

At the heart of good food are the quality of the ingredients, the people who produce them, the soils, and the ecosystems in which they are grown. Therefore, partnering with the farmers and suppliers to protect the ecosystems leads to long-term success. This requires us to know where our ingredients are sourced from and that they are produced in a way that makes a positive contribution to individuals, communities, and the planet.

Additionally, businesses should further propagate the benefits to farmers and suppliers through regular training, information sharing and support. The application of best practice agricultural techniques helps farmers enhance productivity. Furthermore, the deployment of new technology can help increase transparency, identify challenges, and provide new innovative solutions throughout the supply chain.

Let us take the example of sustainable dairy production and sourcing. We could invest in capacity building programmes for dairy farmers by providing technical know-how on good cattle feeding practices, breeding practices, and mechanisation of farms, thereby continuously improving sourcing operations.

Businesses should also aim to bring about positive and sustainable change while aiding the resilience and prosperity of the farming community and the stakeholders across its value chain.

Building sustainable supply chains through collaborative efforts

Preserving our ecosystem and ensuring sustainable practice across our value chain is vital. Sustainable supplies of food is a global challenge that requires transformative solutions and a multi-stakeholder effort. Helen Keller had said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” The importance of collective effort to bring about any form of transformation stands true even today. Especially when it comes to climate change. By working collaboratively, businesses can make a meaningful impact—on sustainable development, improving livelihoods, mitigating climate change, and ensuring food supplies for the future.

The writer is Director, Corporate Affairs at Nestlé India.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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