Environmental risks and social inequality are making the world more complicated and unpredictable. The size and complexity of most sustainability and societal issues mean they cannot be addressed by any one solution or organisation.
Our goal is to deliver sustainable value for our stakeholders through the high quality, own brand products we offer in the UK and internationally. To do this, we must look beyond our operations to the wider supply chain, where the biggest impacts occur. Simply put, we cannot deliver Plan A alone.
It is important to recognise that no-one has all the insights, resources or networks to deal with these complex issues. Capacity building has varying interpretations, but to us it’s about what we are doing to fill these gaps. It can include providing training and guidance to our suppliers, sharing insights about our business or sector with civil society, working collaboratively with our industry peers, helping governments craft effective public policy and a whole range of other activities. The overriding objective is to make individuals or organisations stronger and better equipped to deal with global environmental, social and economic change.
Partnership has always been at the heart of Plan A. We appreciate that it can be challenging for our suppliers to meet our sustainability requirements and whilst we need to be demanding we also need to help incentivise. Through collaborative working and advocacy we aim to achieve shared objectives and mutually beneficial economic, social and environmental outcomes.
Commitments and targets
Our ambition is to accelerate change by leading with others. We’re committed to achieve this by working collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders: suppliers, civil society, the science community, governments, customers and other businesses.
We focus on challenges that are important to our business and where we can most effectively influence change.
We have an aspiration to be a leading major retailer on sustainability, but we can only achieve this if we are able to spark systemic, innovative change within our supply base. We need suppliers to be able to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving and complex commercial world. We recognise that it can be difficult for many suppliers to see what this brings in terms of direct benefits to them. We need to understand and be sensitive to these issues. Capacity building is absolutely essential to achieve the scale and pace of change we need to see in our global supply base.
Whilst ongoing monitoring of compliance is of course necessary and useful, it is not the be all and end all. For instance, solely focusing on individual non-compliances can result in underlying issues being missed. In addition, this approach may not identify emerging issues or trends, or promote the development of a continuous improvement culture within our supply base.
We therefore complement our approach to compliance by going ‘beyond’ and defining areas of collaboration that will promote continuous improvement with our suppliers. We do this by providing a range of capacity building tools and incentives to align our respective goals and objectives. This includes capacity in terms of resources, technical skills, knowledge, as well as research and development.
Our ultimate goal though is to make sustainable production the norm and for it to be fully integrated into global supply chains. To achieve this change at a global scale and rapid pace, we need to think beyond the capabilities of our business and supply chains by working with industry partners and other stakeholders.
We cannot deliver our objectives overnight – which is why our long-term commitment to delivering change through capacity building remains critical to our overall Food Group strategy.
Our approach to capacity building focuses on: