From individual to collective action :
Exploring business cases for addressing sustainable food security
To produce more and produce better in an environment constrained by an increasing world population, climate change and volatility on agricultural markets, is one of the major challenges of the twenty-first century.
A recent report by the NGO WWF UK (extract here1), discusses the issues surrounding the fight against food insecurity and the policies and actions to be deployd to deal with it. The report highlights the risks to the planet, citizens and businesses if the food security challenge is not raised.
The organization explores opportunities for companies to join forces and work towards common goals. However, these goals cannot be achieved without the involvement and action of the State. It is interesting to note that the NGO mentions the necessity of appropriate government intervention - in particular by evoking different forms of regulation - in order to support the companies involved in food security.
Finally, the report recommends renewed cooperation at all levels, from local to international, and for all players, from government to farmers through businesses, the only dynamic possible for facing the issues that are and will continue to be ours.
momagri Editorial Board
In the space of a few years there’s been a welcome increase in appetite among progressive food businesses to address long-term food security challenges. WWFUK’s direct contact with senior executives from a broad crosssection of businesses shows they are starting to move beyond business as usual and are now starting to develop solutions.
This goes beyond the actions business can take. Our research shows a sector that’s keen for appropriate Government interventions (including new regulations); businesses recognise such interventions are critical to their long-term success and indeed their very survival.
WWF-UK commissioned the Food Ethics Council to work with business to understand how they approach food security and why. What emerged was that food business leaders didn’t share an agreed definition of food security. In the main, the current position expressed by businesses on security of supply does not take account of all aspects of food security and is neither secure nor sustainable.
Most of the people spoken to in compiling this report recognised that failing to act on food security – as an individual business and collectively – won’t just result in falling long-term profitability, but will ultimately threaten the viability of food companies.
Growing demand, climate change, water availability, soil fertility, fossil fuel dependence and biodiversity loss are just a few of the issues the food industry must both adapt to and have a positive influence over.
The purpose of this work was to determine the strength of the business cases to address food security issues; how those cases can be strengthened; and what further positive interventions businesses can take to deliver long-term food security for everyone.
This is important, because a narrow or partial understanding of food security can result in business policies that at best fail to deliver a genuinely fair and sustainable food system, and at worst move us even further away from achieving it.
We also found that the motivation – or business case – for food businesses to work collaboratively to take bold action for sustainable food security is weak.
It is our belief that unless and until those two key issues are addressed, efforts to tackle food insecurity will be piecemeal and ineffective.
Clearly this is of concern to an organisation such as WWF-UK whose mission is to safeguard the natural world by creating solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet. It is also of concern for businesses whose very future success depends on what the natural world can provide.
1 The entire article and report are available from