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Written by: Peter Williamson, Strategic Content Contributor
For the past several months, we’ve been hard at work creating an exciting new publication: the sequel to Changing the Food Game. Our workshop in August marked the beginning of the next stage of this great undertaking and set the stage for the move from collaboration to level playing field. With this book, we aim to reach professionals in every sector and industry imaginable. We want to give them the tools for creating change from their position, helping their business and their sector thrive while firmly establishing sustainability as the new ‘business as usual’ and reaching the next stage of market transformation.
We’ve learnt a great deal thanks to the fascinating insights into each sector and we’d like to take this opportunity to share three of them with you.
Several mega trends are driving explosive growth across all sectors. We now have a rapidly growing world population and an increasing demand for goods and services. For instance, satisfying construction demand for new buildings over the next 40 years means constructing the equivalent of Paris city every week! Or take the garment industry: in the last 20 years, the number of people employed in the sector has tripled, reaching somewhere between 60 and 70 million workers in 2014 and has become responsible for around 7% of global exports.
However, while delivering great economical booms and creating new livelihoods for many people, this rapid increase in resource use and consumption has also come with vast and complex sustainability challenges that need to be tackled if we wish to maintain and ensure future prosperity. For instance, dyeing one ton of garments takes 150,000 liters of water on average, and for every ton of gold mined by small-scale miners in LEDCs, four tons of toxic mercury are used.
Modern value-chains are heavily interlinked: the chemical industry relies heavily on fossil-based feed stock from the energy industry in order to supply various other industries, such as dyes for the garments industry or fertilizer for the agri-food sector. This means that all of these industries in turn remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels, not just for their own energy demand, but also for material inputs. At the same time, this demand is only ever increasing with time. Every year we need to produce more clothes to respond to a growing population and rapid fashion trends, require more food to feed the world, and consume more energy to power all of this. This means we need to start collaborating rapidly and intelligently to make our value-chains work for people and planet.
These challenges have been taken up by different stakeholders and sectors, with responses ranging from individual company pilots and voluntary standards to collaboration and even sustainable institutionalization. However, this is just half the journey: while maximizing sustainable gains relies on cooperation on sustainable solutions within a sector, kicking it into the next gear requires stakeholders from different industries to come together in order to create shared opportunities.
Keep an eye on our News & Insights page for further updates on this project and please feel free to reach out to our team if you want to know more!