May the best farmer win!

How does the true price of organic agriculture differ from conventional agriculture?

Adrian de Groot Ruiz gave an interview about organic versus conventional agriculture on Business News Radio (in Dutch). You can listen to the whole interview, in response to a statement of Louise Fresco, the President of Wageningen University and Research. (His part starts at 22 minutes) here.

Read a summary of the questions and answers below:

Interview on BNR Duurzaam

Adrian de Groot Ruiz as an expert on this statement:
“Organic agriculture is less productive than conventional agriculture”

Journalist Frederique Mol is the interviewer.

The real costs are not included in the price consumers pay. Who pays for these?
Society pays. For example, when CO2 emissions go up, there will be more floods. We will need to build more dams and the productivity of agriculture will go down. These are costs which are real, but the person enjoying the piece of chocolate does not pay for it.

Which information do you need to judge the statement?
Environment is the most interesting, because the advantage is that organic agriculture is better per hectare. There is less use of pesticides and herbicides, there is less loss of soil quality and less CO2 emissions per hectare. The disadvantage is there is less produce per hectare.

How do you calculate the real price?
Multiply the costs per hectare with efficiency. With the use of pesticides and herbicides, you determine the loss of species and value the different species. With CO2 you take the societal costs. We calculate 110 euros for a ton of CO2.

Does organic agriculture perform better than conventional agriculture?
The most leading studies show that the yield is about 20 percent lower.

That sounds like bad news for organic agriculture. Can we put a price on it?
No, and that is the interesting part. This is what we should measure, but it differs per continent and per product. To be fair, we don’t know. So it’s important that everyone measures and reports their true price. For example, an organic trader, Eosta, reports their costs per hectare, but we would like to see the costs per product and then: may the best farmer win!

Natural Capital Protocol launched today

Global leaders convene to launch new framework that will help businesses make better decisions by including natural capital. True Price was part of the consortium delivering the project focusing on the business engagement programme. In addition, it served as technical advisor for 5 of the fifty pilots.

Representatives from over 160 of the world’s leading organizations, spanning business, finance, accounting, conservation, academia, and policy, meet today in London to celebrate the culmination of a unique collaborative project that has produced the first global Natural Capital Protocol.

The Natural Capital Protocol is a standardized framework designed to generate trusted, credible, and actionable information that business managers need to make truly informed decisions. It brings together and builds on a number of approaches that already exist to help business measure and value natural capital, and, by harmonizing them, will allow all businesses everywhere to benefit from understanding their relationships with nature.

The Protocol represents public and private sectors coming together in a unique collaboration, under voluntary contracts, to create something for the common good, and is freely available to all under a Creative Commons license.

38 diverse organizations formed the Protocol’s core development team, and over 450 organizations provided input over the course of the two year project. With the global challenges we face, such collaboration through voluntary partnerships will become ever more crucial, and the Protocol is proof of what can be achieved.

According to a 2013 report commissioned by the Natural Capital Coalition, half of all existing corporate profits would be at risk if the costs associated with natural capital were to be internalized through market mechanisms, regulation or taxation. A water shortage, for example, would have a catastrophic impact on 40% of Fortune 100 companies.

Natural capital brings together the environmental strands of climate, water, energy, biodiversity and waste into a uniform strategic approach. If adopted at scale, the Natural Capital Protocol has the power to revolutionize the way that businesses evaluate their operations and make decisions, helping them to reduce pollution, protect biodiversity, and limit the impacts of climate change, while simultaneously producing positive business results, safeguarding operations and supporting efforts to create a more sustainable world.

The Protocol has been through a comprehensive consultation and piloting process. Organizations and professionals from six continents offered over 3,200 comments during the consultation, and over 50 leading businesses piloted the Protocol, including Dow, Shell, the Coca-Cola Company, Kering, Hugo Boss, Yorkshire Water, Nestle, Interface, Olam and Nespresso, with many more lining up to apply the Protocol once it is launched.

Download the Natural Capital Protocol here.

Het loont om transparant te zijn (In Dutch)

Green Deal Samenwerken aan Transparantie van Natuurlijk en Sociaal Kapitaal afgerond

22 Nederlandse bedrijven hebben de afgelopen twee jaar geëxperimenteerd met het transparant maken van de invloed van hun product of dienst op mens en natuur, van grondstof tot eindproduct. Zo heeft ABN AMRO de sociale en milieukosten en baten van cacaofinanciering in kaart gebracht en deed DSM dit voor de productie van OatWell, een innovatief haver product. Het eindrapport van de ‘Green Deal Samenwerken aan Transparantie van Natuurlijk en Sociaal Kapitaal’ is vandaag aangeboden aan de vereniging van Commissarissen en Directeuren (NCD), tijdens de 18de Europese Corporate Governance Conferentie. In het rapport staan inspirerende voorbeelden waarmee ook andere bedrijven aan de slag kunnen.

In Santpoort-Noord kwamen vandaag honderden directeuren en commissarissen van Europese bedrijven bijeen op de conferentie over maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen. Het eerste exemplaar van het rapport “Het loont om transparant te zijn” werd hier aan bezoekers van de conferentie aangeboden door Willem Lageweg, vertrekkend directeur van MVO Nederland. Het rapport laat zien waarom en hoe bedrijven en organisaties de afgelopen jaren bezig zijn geweest met het inzichtelijk maken van hun impact op en afhankelijkheid van natuurlijk en sociaal kapitaal. Zo rapporteerde BAM, over de milieukosten van verschillende soorten asfalt, maakte Thermaflex de groene impact van leiding- en isolatieoplossingen transparant en ontwikkelde AkzoNobel een vierdimensionale winst- en verliesrekening.

Het uitbrengen van het rapport vormt de afronding van de Green Deal ‘Samenwerken aan Transparantie van Natuurlijk en Sociaal Kapitaal’, die in 2014 is getekend. De Green Deal was een initiatief van MVO Nederland, IUCN NL, True Price en het Ministerie van Economische Zaken. De belangrijkste geleerde lessen van de Green Deal zijn: het loont om voorop te lopen bij transparantie, omdat het zorgt voor betere besluitvorming en rapportage. De samenwerking heeft de deelnemers inzicht gegeven in de beschikbare meetmethodes en tools. En bedrijven hebben nu een beter beeld van de risico’s en kansen. Alle voorbeelden van de Green Deal staan in een Nederlands- en Engelstalig rapport dat gedownload kan worden op de websites van de Green Deal partners.

Hoe nu verder? Nu de Green Deal succesvol is beëindigd, zullen MVO Nederland, IUCN NL, True Price en het ministerie van Economische Zaken bedrijven en instellingen blijven ondersteunen om natuurlijk en sociaal kapitaal een plek te geven in hun besluitvorming.

Download hier het rapport. Meer informatie over de conferentie vindt u hier.

Global Goals Charter kick-off meeting 2016

The Global Goals Charter kicked-off 2016 by a successful meeting on Monday the 25th of January hosted by Worldconnectors and Rabobank. Here’s a summary of the highlights:

As an introduction, Worldconnector Herman Mulder opened the meeting to kick-off the Global Goals Charter for 2016.

Business is one of the key players in achieving the Global Goals, was a key message in the contribution of Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development). He explained how the Global Goals stand for a radical transformation that make every country in the world a developing country. There are three major issues that should be confronted directly: food (in 2050 there are approximately 10 billion people), cities (in 2030 70% of the population lives in cities) and energy. The LCTPI (Low Carbon Technology Partnerships Initiative) can address a large share of the Global Goals, whilst addressing food loss and waste can take up another large part of the solution. Interestingly, despite our perception that the Netherlands does not undertake sufficient action regarding sustainable development, we are number 7 on the global scale of ‘sustainable readiness.’

Christiaan Rebergen, ‎Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of International Cooperation, reflected on the perspective of the government in achieving the Global Goals. He pointed out that the Global Goals are aspirational, as they do not merely concern developing countries but are also a vital guidance for us in the Netherlands. The Department plans to write a note to the parliament on the Global Goals, set an agenda with 10 concrete actions, build on the presence of the EU in Amsterdam and work together with NGOs and businesses (in the Netherlands and Europe). He explained that the Global Goals agenda should not only be a governmental agenda and that the contribution of business and civil society are essential. In light of this, he regards the Global Goals Charter as a valuable initiative.

From an NGO perspective, Bart Romijn, Director of Partos, indicated that by creating an image of what will happen if we achieve the Global Goals, they will truly come alive. He also reminded us that we should not forget about the so-called “elephants in the room”: such as subsidies for fossil, tax evasion and weapons. However, thankfully, there are many great initiatives – also from business forerunners – that break through. He saw potential in the Charter and explained how important a joint perspective is from civil society, business, financial institutions, government and academia.

Adrian de Groot Ruiz, member of Worldconnectors and executive director of True Price, explained the journey of the Global Goals Charter so far since 2014. He emphasized that the Charter aims to bring together three persons that can help achieve the Global Goals: the problem owner, the solution provider and the financier. He also presented the Charter workplan, currently in progress, in which the actions taken thus far will be concretized. The workplan contains the objective of the Charter, which is to create an enabling environment for joint action by business, civil society and governments. It proposes four workstreams:

(i) coordinate societal contributions to the Global Goals,
(ii) enable Global Goals Solution partnerships,
(iii) share knowledge and scale up, and
(iv) communicate about the progress.

Governance will be covered by a steering board, which consists of representatives from business, civil society, academia and government. In addition, a secretariat, operations group and communications group will execute activities, track progress and communicate. The next step is finalizing the workplan during which the signatories of the Charter will be consulted in the coming months.

Lastly, Magnus Magnusson, Head of Government Relations Northern Europe at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reflected on the Global Goals and the Charter from the Foundation’s perspective. He explained the main focus of the Foundation on three dimensions of living: food, health and safety. By investing in innovation, knowledge sharing and especially data, the Foundation aims to achieve, where possible, measurable social change. This is in line with the Global Goals agenda and the partnerships supported in the Netherlands.

What’s next?
– As follow-up of this kick-off we will finalize the workplan. To do so, we will consult a variety of stakeholders from business, civil society and government, and of course you, the Charter signatories.
– DSM is seeking partners to form a Food & Nutrition platform under the Global Goals Charter. If you are interested in joining this stream, please contact Alba Tiley at alba.tiley@dsm.com.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us in case you have any questions or would like to discuss opportunities for collaboration.

True Price will contribute to WWF Webinar: Challenging the myth of cheap food

On Tuesday 31st of March 2015 True Price’s Executive Director Adrian de Groot Ruiz will give a presentation at the webinar hosted by LiveWell for LIFE, a partnership between WWF-UK, the WWF European Policy Office and Friends of Europe. The theme of the webinar is ‘Challenging the myth of cheap food’. All interested in the debate on the true cost of our food can join for free. See below the information on how to access the webinar.

Challenging the myth of cheap food

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

10:00  |  GMT Summer Time (London, GMT+01:00)  |  1 hr

Join WebEx meeting

Meeting number:            704 039 381

Meeting password:         LiveWell2015

Join by phone

0800-051-3810 Call-in toll-free number (UK)

+44-203-478-5289 Call-in toll number (UK)

Access code: 704 039 381

Agenda:

Moderator:

Nick Hughes, Food Sustainability Advisor, WWF UK

Presenters:

Adrian de Groot Ruiz, Executive Director, True Price.

Patrick Holden, CEO, Sustainable Food Trust.

David Schofield, Head of CSR, Aviva.