UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — Industry must become part of the solution as climate change and a growing population make many of the current systems of production unsustainable, stressed Bühler during its Networking Days 2019 in Uzwil, Switzerland.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and former director general of the World Health Organization, addressed the 800 experts, leaders, scientists and professionals from 500 companies and over 80 countries attending the three-day event.
“There is no turning back. The need for private sector engagement is stronger than ever,” she said. “We cannot solve all the challenges without the resources, the expertise, the technology and brain power of business.”
Stefan Scheiber, chief executive officer of Bühler Group, Bühler is convinced that this is a pathway to building sustainable businesses and solutions.
“But we are running out of time. That is why we have increased our sustainability goals: our aim is to reduce energy requirements, water consumption, and waste by 50% in our customers’ value chains,” he said. “No business can do this alone. We need widescale collaboration from every sector and part of the world.”
Bühler’s second Networking Days in Uzwil took place under the motto “Creating tomorrow together” and provided a forum for manufacturers, industry partners, scientists and start-ups to share ideas and inspire each other, focusing on the key questions: How can we feed a global population of nearly 10 billion people and help fulfill their mobility needs in 2050 whilst respecting the limits of the planet?
The earth’s population is predicted to grow to 9.8 billion by 2050, with 70% living in urban areas. These shifts will put a strain on food and transport systems unless fundamental changes are made.
Speaking at the event, Sunny Verghese, Group CEO of Olam International Limited and chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, underlined the importance of the challenges.
“You cannot produce the food, feed, and fiber that all of us need if we destroy the planet,” he said. “There has to be an alternative way to do this on a more sustainable basis. Business as usual will not get us there so do not accept the status quo.”
Actions taken by participants at Bühler Networking Days can have a significant impact.
“In this room we have convened people that influence the three most important levers to make a change to carbon emissions,” said Ian Roberts, chief technology officer of Bühler. A third of global CO2 emissions are created by buildings, a third by mobility and a third by agriculture – the major players from each of these sectors were present at Bühler’s Networking Days 2019.
A theme throughout the event was the power of digitalization to help meet these challenges.
“Digitalization has changed the world. It allows completely new technical solutions, changes how we collaborate, communicate, and innovate. It is changing and disrupting our lives and, crucially, can help us to meet our sustainability targets,” said Roberts. Bühler is already leveraging the power of IoT, Artificial Intelligence and big data to enable faster, smarter, better decisions. Bühler Insights, the first cloud platform dedicated to the food and feed industry, is helping to drive up yields, reduce waste, and improve food safety.
“Technology has a huge role to play,” he said. “But it cannot solve these challenges alone. We also need to think and work across value chains and systems. We cannot achieve our targets by working in isolation. Collaboration is no longer an option – it must be a core competence in all businesses.”
Bühler is already creating networks with industry partners, research institutes, universities, startups and not-for-profit organizations to broaden and deepen the knowledge and expertise focused on solving these challenges. Through its 29 application and training centers it has created a worldwide network for innovation.
This view was echoed by Stefan Palzer, executive vice-president and chief technology officer of Nestlé Global, who said that his company – the world’s largest food company – has launched an accelerator this year and opened its labs and its expertise to startups, to help them advance more quickly to valid prototypes.