Food production will need to increase by 50% by 2030 to feed the world’s population but this cannot be achieved without dramatic consequences for the environment, according to management and technology consultancy BearingPoint. The findings are revealed as part of the BearingPoint Institute Report which includes a landmark study – ‘Will your company pass the sustainability stress tests?’
“The growth in world demand for food offers major opportunities forIrelandbut the environmental challenges are massive and will require a different approach by business,” comments Peter Minogue, Managing Partner, BearingPoint Ireland, which employs about 200 people. Irish agri-food exports rose by 12% to Eur8.8 billion in 2011 according to the Department of Agriculture and Marine.
The BearingPoint study quotes research which finds that in Europe the greatest environmental impact in the agricultural sector is not just from industrial processing (11%) but more significantly agricultural production (49%) and the use of products by consumers (18%).
“Thus in order to survive, organisations need to partner along all stages of the supply chain including protecting natural resources, working with the farming community, triggering product innovation and responding to the increasing health consciousness of consumers,” adds Peter Minogue.
He says that business has entered a new era where “volatility and instability are the norm”. For this reason BearingPoint has developed 11 practical ‘stress tests’ for survival for the FMCG, Financial Services and B2B sectors which are contained in the report.
The BearingPoint paper argues that business must lead not follow consumers in order to secure a sustainable planet. It quotes a study which finds that while 96% of Europeans say that protecting the environment is important, only 75% are prepared to buy products that respect this and just 17% do so regularly.
The stress tests are based on interviews with leaders of 33 international organisations. The findings reveal a fundamental shift in the thinking of CEOs. “Sustainability is now seen not only as a major facet of their commercial differentiation but, more strikingly, essential for their medium term survival,” he comments. “This is in sharp contrast to previous years where sustainability was a purely defensive play to address greater regulation or ‘greenwash’ their public image.”
Xavier Houot, Partner at BearingPoint, focusing on Sustainability Services, and author of the paper, adds: “Just like banking stress tests, Sustainability Stress Tests assess the resilience and durability of a company’s economic activity for the years to come. For most companies, viewing their business environment in 2030 has always been a lower priority task with the focus more on addressing short to medium term constraints and opportunities. These new tests provide business leaders with a powerful tool to view their mid to longer term business environment and to answer the question ‘is my business model compatible with the world of 2030?’”
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