CSR means contributing to a world where everyone is fed

To make a real difference in the world, corporations could start supporting food and water security. If everyone contributed to create a food secure world, entrepreneurship, prosperity and then ultimately peace would flourish.

Volunteers for organisations working with food security, like the Water and Food Award, are often told that; “our business isn’t in water and food” so we are not interested in supporting your cause.

business of businessI have started asking corporate representatives what their own employees would say if I were to ask them during their morning commute where they were going.

“They would say they are going to work!”

And I would ask the employee; “why are you going to work?”.

“I have to,” They would say. “Why do you have to?”

“If I don’t go to work I won’t get paid and then I won’t have any money”

And I would ask;”what would that mean?”

“Then I can’t provide food on the table or a roof over the head for my family.”

I have often asked people if they could get a roof over their head and food on the table would they STILL go to work. Most wouldn’t. You can ask the opposite: if they COULDN’T get a roof over their head and food on the table from working would they still go to work? Most wouldn’t.

So I rest my case: the reason we work is to put food on the table. We don’t want jobs that don’t put on the table. The business of business is to put food on the table. Doing good for society is likely to become the biggest brand differentiator in the coming decades. And putting food on people’s tables is one of the most fundamental ways to do good.This is the heart of what we could call a ladder of Corporate Social responsibility for water and food security.

THE LADDER from the WATER AND FOOD AWARD: WAFAWARD.org

This table describes the various stages we have seen companies develop through as their awareness of the significance of water and food security rises and as it begins to become part of operations.

 

MISSION Promoting Water and Food Security is at the core of our mission
PRODUCTS Several products are designed specifically to promote Water and Food Security
SUPPLY CHAIN INVOLVEMENT We develop ways to promote Water and Food Security in ways that make business sense for us
SUPPLY CHAIN COMPLIANCE In our compliance work we especially ensure stakeholder Water and Food Security along our supply chains
LOCAL INVOLVEMENT We develop ways to promote local Water and Food Security in ways that made sense for our business
LOCAL COMPLIANCE In our compliance work we especially ensure that Water and Food Security for our nearest stakeholders is at least not compromised
PHILANTHROPY We give philanthropically to Food and Water Security initiatives
NOT FOR US Our company sees no relevance in CSR activities targeted toward Water and Food Security

See also the Water and Food Ladder for individuals and nations.

The ladder as a tool to grasp the opportunity. On the bottom rung, corporations see food and water security as none of their business. The top rung is where it is the heart of their corporate mission.

The middle rungs have to do with compliance: At least corporations should be aware if anything they are doing is taking food OFF the table. This seems easy enough, but every time an employee pushes the accelerator on a fossil fuel driven vehicle, plumes of carbon dioxide rise into the air adding to global warming. The resulting climate change is affecting crop yields all over the world. So corporations should be linking their carbon reductions to corporate social responsibility programs. The same goes for water use, forest resource use and soil use to name but a few areas of focus.

I always hear that CSR should make business sense. Of course, not everything a corporation could do to promote food and water security can make business sense. But many corporations are finding that if they look, they see opportunities everywhere. Take LUSH, the UK cosmetics company. They have been sending agricultural experts to the villages from where they source raw materials. These experts have been helping with sustainable food production and at the same time teaching them how to refine the raw material to get it just how the cosmetics company wants it. Both win: The village gets food security and a better price for its material and LUSH gets more reliable supplies.

As none other than business guru Michael Porter says; “Why stop at food? Think nutrition”. A world where everyone is fed is where entrepreneurship can flourish; prosperity and peace are real possibilities.


Find out more:

The  Water and Food Award http://wafaward.org
A comprehensive series of webinars is being created around food and water security.

Google CSV or common shared value for more information about Michael Porter’s work.

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