It’s a great day in my line of work when businesses such as Syngenta launch initiatives like their new Good Growth Plan. Here’s the world’s largest agricultural chemicals company -- and member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) -- stepping up with six commitments that reach far beyond the company’s scope of work, to significantly move the needle on global food security.
Syngenta’s six commitments are bold and ambitious. They include increasing productivity of the world’s major crops by 20%, without using any more land, water or inputs like fertilizers and pesticides, and enhancing biodiversity on five million hectares of farmland by 2020. They represent precisely the kind of courageous private-sector leadership that we at the WBCSD try to inspire in our member companies, partners and broader global business community every day.
The Good Growth Plan is also a perfect example of the kinds of business solutions that are key to the success of the WBCSD’s Action2020 initiative. Action2020 is a plan that lays out what businesses need to do by 2020 to address the urgent needs of the planet and its people. It defines the ‘Must-Have’ targets we need to achieve by 2020, and recommends concrete solutions for businesses and policy-makers.
When it comes to meeting the world’s growing food, feed, fiber and fuel needs, the challenge is to ensure that the planet moves toward an environmentally sustainable agricultural system. No small feat, when you consider that in 2010-2012, about 870 million people did not consume enough food to cover their minimum dietary requirements1, and agricultural expansion remains the primary driver of the conversion of many high-value ecosystems.2
To address these challenges, Action2020 proposes global priorities and solutions to address a range of food security issues, including global hunger and malnutrition, greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, and the global loss of forests and wetlands.
Given these priorities, you can understand my excitement about Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan. Its success will directly support Action2020’s broader food security goals. And The Good Growth Plan holds the potential of inspiring other companies to do the same-- the ultimate food security ripple effect, if you like.
So it’s only fitting that this week, Syngenta CEO Michael Mack represented the WBCSD at the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). There, he presented The Good Growth Plan in connection with Action2020, with the aim to bolster political momentum around the best options for a “land-degradation neutral world”. I couldn’t think of a better ambassador to drum up support for both initiatives.
We're very pleased to see Syngenta join the ranks of other leading WBCSD members, with a bold strategy aimed at addressing our global challenges. We will always encourage other companies to do the same. On behalf of all of us at the WBCSD, I congratulate Syngenta. We look forward to spotlighting The Good Growth Plan at the WBCSD’s upcoming council meeting in Istanbul, as well as ensuring its connection with Action2020 stays as strong as the commitment we share for a sustainable future for our planet.
1 FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2012. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012. Rome: FAO
2. Searchinger, T. et al. 2013. “The Great Balancing Act.” Working Paper, Installment 1 of Creating a Sustainable Food Future. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.