Business must reject short-term thinking and focus instead on long-term value creation for shareholders and society at the same time, said Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke at the company’s annual Creating Shared Value (CSV) Forum.
“The global debt crisis was, in many ways, a values crisis,” Mr Bulcke said, speaking from Nestlé’s global research centre in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Mr Bulcke said a combination of holistic thinking, long-term goals and a return to strong and clear values, based on respect, was the only way forward.
This year’s CSV Forum, held in the presence of the President of the Swiss Confederation Didier Burkhalter and co-organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), focused on how to create a new role for industry, at the heart of the societies in which it operates.
“Too many people and businesses had been seduced by or pressured into delivering on short-term egoistic targets and there was a general shift in thinking towards 'me-now' instead of 'us-tomorrow',” Mr Bulcke said.
“Leaders need to demonstrate their respect by going back to the basic role of business – value creation for society as a whole with a long-term perspective.”
Over 20 leading international experts from government, academia, civil society and business joined hundreds of others at the Forum to discuss how to accelerate sustainable development, focusing on the key areas of nutrition, water and rural development.
Nestlé believes that for a company to be successful over the long term and create value for shareholders, it must create value for society.
Nestlé announced that Honey Care Africa, an East African fair trade honey firm working with 35,000 farmers in South Sudan, had won the company’s Creating Shared Value Prize.
The prize, an investment of CHF 500,000 shared between the winner and runners-up, rewards innovative businesses that create value for their communities by addressing issues of nutrition, water or rural development.
Madison Ayer, of Honey Care Africa, to help farmers become commercial beekeepers, said he was delighted with the win.
"The Creating Shared Value Prize is such a wonderful recognition of the hard work and passion of our team, farmers, and customers in Africa,” he said. “And what is even more exciting is the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with Nestlé, as we leverage our sustainable local supply chain with Nestlé’s global resources and expertise.”
During the discussion on water, Nestlé's Chairman Peter Brabeck, told the Forum "We believe that there should be universal access to truly safe, not only improved, drinking water by 2025,” adding that the goal should be to accelerate the provision of access to improved sanitation to at least 120 million additional people per year.
Nestlé, the first corporate partner of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has been working with the organisation since 2006, with a particular focus on improving rural communities’ access to water.
At the event, Nestlé also announced the renewal of this long-standing collaboration, committing to contribute CHF 5 million over five years to the organisation.
Mr Bulcke said that both organisations had benefited from each other’s expertise.
“We have moved from a purely philanthropic relationship to one that embodies our CSV business model and results in a lasting difference for the communities that surround our operations,” he said.
The IFRC's Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, said that the organisation’s staff and volunteers were always there on the side of communities in support of their response to humanitarian challenges across a continuum of crises prevention, response and recovery.
“Our work on water and sanitation is a key component of the continuum, and we are pleased to partner with Nestlé in that area. Safe access to water and sanitation provides a fertile ground for better health and quality of life,” he said.
Through the collaboration, 100,000 people in Cote d’Ivoire cocoa communities now have access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.
Nestlé said it would expand the water access and hygiene project to neighbouring Ghana as well as sponsoring the production of the IFRC's annual World Disaster Report.
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