If you look at the media and the news right now, everyone’s trying to split people apart for various reasons. Politics that do more to divide our communities than help us move forward are at play all over the world. And, unfortunately, there’s more divisiveness and polarization than we’ve ever seen.
So, it’s no doubt a signal of the times that Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) – an annual event that sees leaders from the biggest global businesses, most ambitious NGOs and most influential governments come together in a small, snowy, Swiss alpine town to debate what ails and can aid global economic growth – opened this year’s Forum with these words:
“What is essential in the world of today is to address the root causes of the problems we are in, of the challenges that we have. Much much time at the moment is absorbed by crisis management. Who is looking really at the future? That’s the unique role of the World Economic Forum – to look at the future in a systemic way. To create a consciousness in the global community that economic activities always have to be coupled with social responsibility” – because if they’re not, we all fail.
This is just as true of the global system. “We have a duty to work together toward a greener, more inclusive, and peaceful world by strengthening our global food systems. Whether we succeed will not depend on some external event, but rather on the choices our leaders make,” he said.
It is those choices – influence over them, and collaboration with the leaders who make them – that landed Jamie Oliver on the side of a Swiss mountain last week.
So what happened? Quite a lot actually.
The event marked the launch of two sizable coalitions that aim to fuel action – and create a global food system that makes food healthier, fairer and more sustainable for all people, in all parts of the world.
On January 18th, Jamie Oliver joined The World Food Programme, UNICEF and UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador, Shakira, former Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy to President Barack Obama, Sam Kass, chefs and campaigners Manal Alalem, David Hertz and Joan Roca to launch the #HealthyNotHungry campaign.
The group is calling on politicians, business leaders, campaigners, advocates and experts to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the global commitments initiated by the UN in 2015 that aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all through policies nations put in place, and actions businesses take.
The #HealthyNotHungry coalition puts their laser focus on tackling hunger, and making sure more people, in more parts of the world have access to the nutrition they need to be healthy.
That’s why we’ll be working with the coalition – to help make the global food system focus on making people healthy, not ill.
It’s the right thing to do. But, as it turns out, it’s also good business.
Better Business, Better World Report
The World Economic Forum’s recently launched Business & Sustainable Development Commission – a group of more than 35 chief executive officers and civil society leaders. Their seminal report was released at this year’s WEF. In it, the influential commission makes clear there’s much to be gained if business connects economic growth with social and environmental progress – no less than $12trn and 380 million jobs by 2030, they say.
That growth relies on four interlinked sectors making sizeable changes to their operations and across global supply chains – food & agriculture, energy, cities, and health.
These “Global Goals hot spots,” the report says, have the potential to grow 2-3 times faster than average GDP over the next 10-15 years.
What’s more, the private sector agrees.
“At a time when our economic model is pushing the limits of our planetary boundaries and condemning many to a future without hope, the Sustainable Development Goals offer us a way out,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and a member of the Commission. “Many are now realizing the enormous opportunities that exist for enlightened businesses willing to stand up and address these urgent challenges. But every day that passes is another lost opportunity for action. We must react quickly, decisively and collectively to ensure a fairer and more prosperous world for all.”
On the same day as the report’s release, a joint letter from more than 80 of the leading global firms – counting Unilever, Coca-Cola, Sainsbury and Diageo among the signatories – made clear their support. And directly urged UK Prime Minister Theresa May to “work with businesses to deliver the SDGs.”
The letter calls for an “economy fit for the future,” which the group says will be made possible through government support for the SDGs. The UK adopted the SDGs in principle more than a year ago. But little progress has been made toward institutionalizing them, say the Environmental Audit Committee who launched an inquiry in July 2016, claiming there has been a “worrying lack of engagement” from government to grease the wheels of change, and provide the incentive needed to embed the SDGs in British business and culture.
The letter makes clear that the businesses driving economic growth in, for and outside the UK want clear signs from Prime Minister May that the UK Government has their back as they aim to have the back of people around the world and the environment we all share. They ask if the government will “demonstrate to business commitment to deliver the SDGs in the UK.”
If it’s good for people and good for business, what’s stopping us?
What’s ironic is that we’re all angry about the same things. If we focus on what we share and what’s common to all of us, we could get a lot more done and make a lot more people happy.
As Jamie put it, “we all want the same things – we all want love, we all want food and we all want safety. It’s about how we come together – and how we get the broken food system working so that all young people have opportunities to thrive through access to good nutrition.”
That’s why we went to WEF. And why we support the launch of #HealthyNotHungry. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @FoodRev and letting us know what you think. See Jamie’s Facebook Live videos here (with Shakira, Richard Curtis and WFP) and here (with Gastromotiva and Michael Johnson), and Jamie’s interview on the Food Revolution with Arianna Huffington here.