Olam introduces new sustainability policy

by Eric Schroeder
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Olam said land use activities should be planned and managed in such a way as to supply food and fiber, while maintaining or enhancing critical habitats.
Photo courtesy of Olam.
SINGAPORE — Olam International Ltd. has launched the Olam Living Landscapes Policy (OLLP), an initiative the company said supports a “Net-Positive” approach to agricultural supply chains and landscape management. The policy, according to Olam, is geared toward putting back more into food and farming systems than is taken out.

As part of the policy, Olam said land use activities should be planned and managed in such a way as to supply food and fiber, while maintaining or enhancing critical habitats, and regenerating the natural capital of soil, water and natural ecosystems. Any unacceptable land use practices should be identified and eliminated, Olam said.

Olam said the framework and strategies of the policy will be prepared in two parts, by 2018 and by 2020. The company intends to seek guidance and advice from a variety of sources.

“Agriculture is at a tipping point,” said Sunny Verghese, co-founder and group chief executive officer of Olam. “Unless we address the multiple environmental and social issues affecting our supply chains, our future volumes are at risk. We already have many policies and codes in place, but we must now go beyond simply doing less harm, and instead aim for a ‘net-positive’ impact toward the creation and restoration of natural and social capital. We recognize that the publication of this policy is only the start of a challenging process where we will need to assess our own operations, influence a vast network of farmers beyond the reach of our direct sourcing, and still operate a viable business. I believe that this policy is a strong example of our new company purpose: to ‘Re-imagine Global Agriculture while Growing Responsibly.’”

Christopher Stewart, head of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Olam, added, “Our generation will need to solve some of the biggest, most intractable challenges in agricultural sustainability, and the solutions require new partnerships and new ways of thinking. We need to think beyond the farm to the whole food system, describe how to measure success, and redefine the responsibility of supply chain actors like Olam toward the communities and whole landscapes from which products are sourced. We have developed the OLLP with the input of a wide range of organizations and I thank them for their contribution. Achieving our ambition will require the creativity, energy and sheer hard work of our whole organization as well as the ongoing support of our partners, including civil society, governments and institutions, sectoral associations, customers and financiers.”

The OLLP may be accessed here.