In business, the terms ‘partnership’ and ‘sustainability’ increasingly go hand-in-hand. Partly driven by Sustainable Development Goal 17, “Partnerships for the Goals”, organisations and governments now understand the importance of working together to achieve a more sustainable future.
Following our recent screening of “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste”, we caught up with Veronika Forstmeier, Senior Hospitality Programme Officer at WWF on the role partnerships play when tackling some of the most pressing sustainability challenges of our time.
Globally, humanity has set itself some ambitious sustainability targets as we realise that if we continue with bad habits, our planet will be unable to sustain us. How important are partnerships as we strive to meet the Sustainable Development Goals?
The SDGs are a big step forward for the environment as they recognise that we all depend on the planet’s natural resources – its forests, rivers, oceans and land – for our social and economic wellbeing. Equally, they recognise that fair, sustainable and prosperous societies ultimately depend on our ability to use the planet’s resources wisely. Governments, businesses, civil society and most of all individuals – need to work together to ensure that these commitments become a reality.
Increasingly we talk about multi-stakeholder partnerships, recognising that many different sectors have a role to play. Working for an NGO, do you view the private sector as part of the sustainability problem or solution?
The private sector offers opportunities to provide solutions and to have immediate impact. We look at it from three angles. We are working with businesses to drive sustainable business practices, which means to deliver direct conservation impacts on the places, species, and issues we care about by changing practices throughout a company’s operations and value chain. We work with businesses to raise awareness on key environmental issues and mobilise consumer action through local outreach and campaigning.
What is WWF’s approach to partnership? What do you look for in a potential partner?
We seek to engage with innovative and solution-oriented business partnerships that will create change for a future in which businesses make a net positive contribution to the well-being of society and the environment. We want results and impacts from our partnerships. From sustainable sourcing, to tackling climate change, and influencing policies on the environment, we build partnerships that match the scope, scale and challenge of our shared ambitions. By working with businesses, WWF aims to change behaviour and drive conservation results. We believe that together, we can transform whole sectors and markets.
What, in your opinion, are the most pressing sustainability issues today, and who has the most power to fix them?
Our overconsumption of the planet’s resources is the single biggest threat to nature today. Specifically, food production and consumption are key areas that need to be urgently addressed. The way we produce and consume food is putting an impossible strain on the planet. It uses most of our natural resources, with 69% of all our water and 34% of our land. It contributes to a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and has caused 70% of biodiversity loss. Yet, we don't even eat all the food we produce as around one third of it is lost in the supply chain or thrown away. We must accelerate action and raise awareness about the need for change across the food system. Together, we can transform our global food systems to ensure that our food is produced more sustainably, distributed fairly and consumed more responsibly.
As Veronika stressed to us, partnership and collaboration across industries will be critical as we work together to tackle unsustainable lifestyles. As an agency specialising in food and agriculture communications, Spurwing has seen a huge shift in the way the industry is partnering to drive real change and communicate this in a way that inspires audiences to do their own part.
If you’d like support to develop and execute on a strategic campaign that strengthens your company’s partnership and sustainability work, you can reach out to Spurwing at firstname.lastname@example.org.