October 12th, 2015

We are proud to announce that, as of the 1st of October, Wouter-Jan Schouten has joined NewForesight as Senior Advisor.

Wouter-Jan has over 20 years of experience in management consulting at The Boston Consulting Group, where he held the position of Partner & Managing Director, leading the Dutch Consumer, Retail, Telco, Media & Technology practices.

‘With a background in consulting to the food industry and working at WWF, it is my personal ambition to contribute to creating the systemic change that is needed to deliver adequate nutrition, within the boundaries of one planet, for the 9 or 10 billion people who will inhabit our planet by 2050’, notes Wouter-Jan. ‘To me this food and fibre challenge is one of the four big and interrelated ecological challenges for humanity to live sustainably within the boundaries of one planet.’

The other main ecological challenges that Wouter-Jan identifies, are land use planning, infrastructure and urban development; energy production and consumption, and; mining and extractives production and consumption. The food and fibre discussion however, is the challenge that Wouter-Jan focuses on. ‘We have to work towards restoring biodiversity and resilience in agricultural landscapes, and stop overexploitation of marine and terrestrial resources. This includes limiting growth in land use for production. To achieve all this will require massive effort, especially since we will have to feed that many more people.’

Many companies and governments, thankfully often in dialogue with NGOs and the public, are taking steps to address the food and fibre challenge. This is a great start, but according to Wouter-Jan, the credibility of many of these initiatives suffers from a lack of a holistic and bold ambition, fragmentation through dysfunctional and dogmatic discussions, and an insufficient perspective on how to change the economic system. ‘To achieve lasting impact at the required scale, the system will have to change in such a way that sustainable business models can win from unsustainable ones. However, up to now the dynamics of competition are changing too slowly. This means that harmful business models still win in most places, and sustainable business models are stuck in a niche for too long.’

Actions need to be focused at changing the economics of the system, making sustainable business models the winning models. Targets of individual companies and entire industries alike need to feed into a holistic set of ambitions for a future food system that fits within planetary boundaries. Additionally, the approach needs to be fact based and not dogmatic; it needs to build on the strong points of mainstream as well as organic agriculture rather than choosing between the two. Very relevant here is that certification schemes can be a means to an end, but should not be mistaken for the end-goal itself.

‘Lucas Simons and I share a common vision on this; don’t just try harder, try different. I look forward to my time with NewForesight, working on programs in both private and public sectors that have real-world and structural impact on transforming markets.’

Wouter-Jan will be working with businesses, governments and NGOs on concrete projects in the agro and food industries to develop, and scale up, sustainable business models. Additionally, he will be involved in coaching the NewForesight team and supporting further growth and development of the company.

Read more about Wouter-Jan on his profile page.