Market Transformation in the Protein Transition

In collaboration with DuurzaamDoor, part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst Voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO) and  Food For Impact consultancy, we spent the first half of 2016 co-designing an approach for accelerating the protein transition by leveraging market forces and competition—an approach validated and welcomed by experts and stakeholders. As only limited progress had been made on the topic of sustainable protein consumption over the past few years, DuurzaamDoor concluded that a new approach was required to achieve the momentum required for progress, and consequently turned to NewForesight’s approach to market transformation.

Our approach focused on directing the positive energy and drive from the market players, by structuring the process around four key success factors in driving such a market-initiated transition: 1) Setting a ‘dot on the horizon’ in the form of a shared vision and goals, 2) identify the problem, break it down into clear barriers, and translate these into solutions, 3) think from the business case, focus on opportunities, and reward front-runners, and 4) coordinate from a central hub where short-term profit and long-term impact are of equal importance.

We set a common vision and bold medium-term goal, and also developed a proposition for front-runners to join an envisioned coalition. During the entire process, DuurzaamDoor acted as a driving force, sharing its dedication to the topic and passion to tackle complex sustainability issues. The activities resulted in the opportunity to form a coalition of front-runners, who were willing to invest in further development of this market-based approach to the protein transition, in the second half of 2016. During this follow up period, we supported the coalition called the Green Protein Alliance on strategic and technical levels to further develop and implement their plans.

This led to the presentation of the Alliance’s plans during the Green Protein Event on 16 February 2017, with the support of the Junior Minister for Economic Affairs Martijn van Dam, and with a growing group of committed organizations. These plans, publicly available in the Green Protein Growth Plan (Dutch only), mark the end of 1,5 years of hard work from NewForesight. Due to the shift to implementation, we will no longer be actively involved in the Green Protein Alliance for the foreseeable future; nevertheless we are proud to call ourselves one of its initiators and look forward to its positive impact.

Inclusion of Natural Capital in Financial Sector Decision-Making

In order to accelerate the transition towards the inclusion of natural capital in financial sector decision-making, a Community of Practice for Financial Institutes & Natural Capital (CoP-FINC) was formed by important financial sector stakeholders in the Netherlands. The CoP-FINC was set-up as a means to increase knowledge and for sharing best practices by exchanging information and experience in private and online meetings. The Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ) supported the CoP by providing professional process facilitators from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst Voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO).

NewForesight’s experience in sustainable market transformations in agri-commodities led to our theories on sustainable market transformation that is applicable far beyond agriculture. We supported RVO in their workshop in 2015 by sharing these theories and giving compelling examples coming from cocoa and coffee. This offered financial institutions new insights into what needed to be done to improve the inclusion of natural capital in decision-making. We helped RVO to use this workshop to inspire participants and to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable policies in the financial sector.

In the article we co-wrote following our work, we describe the Sustainable Transformation Curve and place the financial sector on that curve, providing food for thought for next steps. To find out more, read the article that resulted from this assignment.

Building Blocks for an Enabling Environment for Natural Capital

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs looks to create an enabling environment that stimulates private and public organizations to include natural capital in their decision-making procedures. The Ministry believes that a systems lens and transitional thinking should be included to strengthen the discussion and find opportunities for implementation.

We supported the Ministry in defining the building blocks for an enabling environment for natural capital based on our earlier work for RVO, as well as helped to communicate this among relevant stakeholders. These building blocks were intended as a contribution to a joint paper on natural capital through a systems lens, called The Natural Capital Coalition. In two separate workshops hosted by The Natural Capital Coalition and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, we contributed with NewForesight thinking on systems and sustainable sector transformations.

The synthesis of our thinking and insights were used by the Ministry as input for the World Forum on Natural Capital on 23-24 November 2015 in Edinburgh, where leaders from businesses, government and NGO assembled to discuss integration of natural capital in their respective fields.

Setting the Agenda for Working Towards the SDGs

In order to create a unified vision and strategy on sustainable trade in relation to the newly developed Sustainable Development Goals, and to bring coherence to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ wide range of initiatives, we facilitated dialogues among the various departments within the ministry. Utilizing our knowledge of sustainable trade as well as our experience in facilitating strategy development, we were able to convene the departments around a single internal strategy, which was adopted by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in June 2015.

Land Governance in the Global South

Acting on the recommendations of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests of 2012, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated the Land Governance Multi Stakeholder Dialogue (LG MSD) in August 2014. The goal of this dialogue between financial institutions, industry, NGOs, knowledge institutions, and government, was to determine how to contribute effectively to the improvement of land governance in countries of the ‘global South’ where the Netherlands is active.

The Ministry required an unbiased overview of the private sector’s perspective on land governance issues. We supported with this by gathering insights from twelve Dutch companies operating in the agro-commodity, floriculture, palm oil and infrastructure sectors about their experiences on land governance issues in the Global South. Additionally, we made recommendations to the ministry on how to work together with companies on this issue, which provided opportunities to directly improve land related issues in the countries in question.

Agro-forestry forum support (took place in 2016)

A good understanding of the impact on the target groups is needed for informed decision-making. The Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA) organized an Agroforestry Forum in Côte d’Ivoire in October 2016. The purpose of this was to develop a Learning Brief that discussed the current state of agroforestry in the world, with a focus on the business case for the farmer. We supported IDH in building this business case by developing a robust model that was able to show multiple agro-forestry scenarios and the implications of these scenarios on both practical and strategic levels.

Service Delivery Models (ongoing since 2014)

If organized well, learning together can benefit all in a sector. Service Delivery Models (SDMs) aim to achieve or further develop either economic, social or environmental sustainability in a supply chain. However, IDH identified that competition between supply chain actors often prevents best practices from being broadly shared – particularly in the delivery of inputs and other support services to upstream actors such as smallholder farmers. The lack of knowledge about the cost effectiveness and return on investment of service delivery in the supply chain compounds this issue.

Since 2015, we have been supporting IDH in analyzing different SDMs in order to develop a methodology that determines the economic viability of different SDMs. This model, the SDM Tool, laid the foundation for the review of SDMs by identifying key performance ratios and crucial levers for improvement. We have conducted on-site evaluations and analyses of various SDMs, the list of which is still growing. Several case studies are described below. The first report on SDMs was published by IDH in 2016, and can be found here to benefit all those who offer services to farmers.

Sustainable Coffee Platform (ongoing since 2014)

Sector collaboration is the way forward for sustainable sector strategies. The Dutch coffee sector collectively expressed the intent to increase the share of sustainably produced coffee and to further increase sustainable coffee production in a pre-competitive manner. This led to the foundation of the IDH Sustainable Coffee Platform. We supported IDH in facilitating the development of a shared vision for a sustainable coffee sector and translating it into national strategies for key coffee producing countries.  This allowed IDH to align major competing producers on coffee sustainability for the first time, which has helped to open the door to a sustainable future for the sector.

Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (took place in 2013)

Moving from fragmentation to collaboration is a great step for sustainability. In 2015, over fifty industry leaders in the floriculture sector pledged to have 90% of their flowers and pot plants responsibly sourced by 2020 through their commitment to the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI), an initiative of IDH. We supported IDH in facilitating the development and implementation of a sustainability initiative in the floriculture sector. At that point, the sector had various initiatives, but sustainability was far from mainstream. The challenge of aligning thirteen different standards was ultimately turned into an opportunity to develop a global vision and uniform standard on sustainable production for and by the industry, and led to great improvements in alignment and trust in the sector.

Better Cotton Initiative (took place in 2011)

A strong business case must always lay at the base of any successful market strategy. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector’s future. Setting a standard for better cotton production requires tracing cotton back to its origins in order for improvements in the value chain to be implemented and managed more easily. We supported IDH – who were involved in the development of BCI through the Better Cotton Fast Track Program – to identify different credible and cost-efficient strategies to link better cotton production at farm level to the claim of better cotton in end markets.  This allowed BCI to better cater to the wish of retailers and brands that want to show they are on a journey towards the use of 100% Better Cotton, and are turning sustainability progress into business value.