Climate change and collaboration the focus of the first APEC Live with Business
While the economic recovery from COVID-19 is the current focus of businesses and governments globally, the longer-term challenges of climate change and feeding a growing population also need attention, say food sector leaders.
Speaking at APEC 2021 LIVE with Business: A sustainable and resilient APEC food system, Food Industry Asia Executive Director Matt Kovac outlined the challenge ahead.
“It is estimated that by 2050, the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion,” he said. “More food will have to be produced using less of everything, with the added challenge that sustainable food products still need to be nutrient dense to allow people to have a balanced, diverse diet and support good health.”
With around one-third of total global greenhouse gas emissions caused by crop and animal production, forestry and food production, and unequal access to nutritious food, the food industry and governments need to grapple with food security and sustainability issues, Mr Kovac said.
Governments should work not just in consultation with industry, but in partnership. “The economies that approach collaboration will inevitably be more successful than those who think of working with the private sector as an after-thought,” Mr Kovac said.
APEC 2021 SOM Chair Vangelis Vitalis told the audience that hosting APEC is an opportunity for New Zealand to take a leadership role in this area.
New Zealand has led the development of a new 10-year food security roadmap, and endorsing it will be one of the key items on the agenda at the APEC Food Security Ministers’ Meeting on 19 August.
“New Zealand, as an economy, has agency here. We are able to shape our environment and that’s not a trivial thing for a small economy to be doing.
“We need to take this opportunity and…business needs to expect that we would want to be leaders, we don’t want to be followers. In the sustainability and food security space, it’s critical not just to our nation’s survival, but also to our economic future, and indeed contributing across the APEC region.”
Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell said his company’s customers increasingly expected the products they consumed to be sustainably produced. He recognised the dairy industry’s challenge with methane emissions, and expressed his view that it could be overcome with collaborative effort.
“Over the past 18 months it’s been amazing to see how quickly the science world has been able to find a vaccine to COVID-19. Imagine if we had the same kind of focus and resources going into finding a way to reduce methane emissions – we’d have it solved next week.”
APEC 2021 LIVE with Business: A sustainable and resilient APEC food system was the first in series of events bringing together business people and thought leaders from across the APEC region physically and virtually.
Hosted by Fonterra Co-operative Group, an APEC 2021 CEO Summit Premier Sponsor, the event included a panel discussion with Fonterra Asia-Pacific chief executive, Judith Swales; Chair of the Sustainable Finance Forum and Aotearoa Circle, Bridget Coates; and Nuffield Scholar and farmer, Corrigan Sowman.
The APEC LIVE with Business events will set the scene for the big conversations at the APEC 2021 CEO Summit in November. Held annually, the CEO Summit is one of the Asia-Pacific’s premier business forums. It attracts a wide range of influential CEOs from some of the largest companies in the world. The 2021 CEO Summit will be a hybrid event with attendees in Auckland joining virtual participants from around the world.