WWF, beef industry leaders advance sustainable beef production
More than 300 stakeholders gathered in Denver, Col., this week for a three-day conference that achieved increased clarity and deepened alignment around the key issues that influence the sustainability of the beef production system, both positive and negative.
“This was an unprecedented event and a great first step in our journey to achieve a more sustainable beef industry,” said Jason Clay, Senior Vice President of Markets at WWF. “On a planet with finite resources, global beef stakeholders understand the business, social and environmental value of doing more with less. Through this multi-stakeholder process, we will build on existing practices and drive continuous improvement throughout the global beef system.”
As an important source of protein for many of the world’s population, global demand for beef is growing. With global populations expected to peak at more than nine billion by 2050, industry and NGO partners have a shared interest to improve beef production in some of the most environmentally sensitive regions of the world.
Hosted by Cargill, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, JBS, McDonald’s, Walmart and WWF, the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef convened all elements of the global beef supply chain and a diverse array of other key stakeholders, including academics, scientists and NGO thought leaders for a constructive dialogue about the current state of sustainability in the beef industry. Participants engaged in a series of panel discussions and breakout sessions around eight key issues related to the environment, economy and society – food and nutrition, community, water, labor and business, land management, energy, biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions.
The conference produced robust feedback centered on the “triple bottom line” – to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. At the conclusion, the conference hosts challenged the participants to incorporate this feedback to develop on-the-ground programs that enhance sustainable beef, driven by new relationships developed in Denver.
“This is a powerful first step in bringing all the key stakeholders of the beef sector together for a transparent dialogue and to identify the real potential of the beef industry to be more sustainable,” said Gary Johnson, Senior Director, McDonald’s Worldwide Supply Chain.
"By incorporating sustainability into Walmart’s own operations, we have seen firsthand the opportunities it creates to increase efficiency and reduce costs," said Pete Eckes, Walmart's senior director of business development for meat. "By making the sustainability practices of producers and suppliers a factor in deciding which beef we buy for our 8500 global locations, Walmart and Sam's Club can provide the access to customers that is needed to make this effort a success."
Conference leadership agreed to a series of next steps in the multi-stakeholder process on sustainable beef. They will ensure continued and frequent engagement at a regional and global scale, document and communicate collective experiences through science-based networks, and serve as conveners to expand partnerships that drive toward increased industry sustainability.