Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform
The global food value chain initiative for sustainable agriculture

Master Class: Discussion and Debate Stimulate Solutions to Building Sustainable Value Chains

On 20-21 November 2018, over 30 sustainability leaders came together in Switzerland for the SAI Platform Master Class in partnership with the Business School Lausanne (BSL). This two-day interactive course closely examined sustainable solutions when sourcing agricultural raw materials. Key moments from the course included the exchange of personal views and experiences on the challenges and opportunities of integrating sustainability into the corporate agenda as well as debate on hot topics such as the future of certification and effective farmer engagement.

Kick starting the 8th annual Master Class, Adrian Greet, SAI Platform’s Director General, emphasised the important role of SAI Platform as a catalyser of change for its 100+ members. Invited speakers included Scott Poynton, Founder of The Forest Trust, Kim Carstensen, Director General at the Forest Stewardship Council, and Antonio Hautle, Managing Director and Network Representative at UN Global Compact Switzerland.  

One of the major discussions was on the future of certification. Leading this session was Rozanne Davis, Head of Sustainability at innocent drinks who identified ‘three key tensions’: the difference between standards and certification; the usage of certification as a baseline assurance versus a driving change and continuous improvement tool, and the third, the role of certification to self-differentiate at consumer level versus driving change within the system. A consensus was reached that meaningful change can be achieved only if certification is used as a drive for continuous improvement, as proposed by Bastien Sachet, CEO of the Forest Trust. 

How to effectively engage with farmers was another key topic generating interest and lively discussion. During the session on building partnerships, SAI Platform’s Doñana Berry Project was used as an example as to why engaging with the right implementer in the early stages is crucial and how technology plays a part in helping to build stronger relationships with farmers.  

Other sessions included the role of technology and innovation to help strategic decision-making as well as how to be an effective change agent.

Master Class participant Lisbet Kugler, Senior Environmental and Social Development Specialist at IFC summed up her experience – “I enjoyed the great variety of topics discussed as well as the presenters, companies and organisations that they represent. This diversity contributed to really good dialogue in the room”.

Discussing important issues, sharing stories and identifying solutions play a part in how we are advancing sustainable agriculture.

Join us next year and be a part of the SAI Platform Master Class.