A conversation between our incoming and outgoing President

18th May 2017

On April 25th, at our General Assembly in Beijing, Adrian Greet, Global Sustainability Programme Director at Mars, was elected President of SAI Platform by our members. 

In this conversation, Ulrike Sapiro, Coca-Cola Director of Sustainability and Stakeholders, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and SAI Platform President 2015 – 2017, and Adrian Greet, our newly elected President, exchange their vision about the evolution of our Platform and the priorities for the next two years.

Adrian Greet: Ulrike, you’ve done a wonderful job and helped the SAI Platform achieve a great deal during your two-year presidency. We’re in a great place, having strengthened our foundations and broadened our membership.

Ulrike Sapiro: Thank you, Adrian. This has been great teamwork. I’ve really enjoyed working with our members around the world and of course the Secretariat led by Peter-Erik Ywema and more recently Jane Duncan. The collaboration within the Executive Committee has been extremely constructive. In your role as Executive Committee (ExCo) member and the treasurer of the SAI Platform you have been very supportive as well.

Adrian: What do you think are your key achievements?

Ulrike: As you mentioned, SAI Platform has grown continuously and my key concern was to strengthen the functioning of the organisation, streamline our work priorities and strengthen the working groups and Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) programme to deliver value for our members. The FSA work is particularly exciting: SAI Platform members have worked with suppliers, farmers and other stakeholders to develop a simple, effective tool for communicating on-farm sustainability. It’s already used in over 30 countries globally, and I’m looking forward to seeing it scaled further.

At the same time, we expanded our scope by setting up a SAI Platform Committee in Brazil, and by stepping into China with the 2017 Conference. We can now build on these opportunities to get us even closer to fulfilling our vision to drive sustainable agricultural supply chains.

I am very much looking forward to working with you as the new President. So, let me ask you: What are your priorities for 2017 and 2018?

Adrian: Building on your legacy, I’d like to see even greater focus on our Working Groups and how we measure and share their success. As we grow, we will need the efficient support of the Secretariat and the ExCo and, of course, the continued contribution from our members. I would like to focus on three areas: Collaboration, Consolidation and Advocacy.

Ulrike: I agree with the need for robust measures of success, and I like your three focus areas. Tell me more.

Adrian: Our strength as an organisation lies in our ability to collaborate pre-competitively for the common good. We need to support our members on working together on regional and multi-country sustainable farming programmes. And of course, we should be urging greater collaboration between the private sector, government and credible partners, like the UN or WWF.

Taking a step back, good science is a really important part of this because it provides the all-important facts on which collaborative decisions can be made. We need to confirm what science and research is needed and where SAI Platform can catalyse delivery.

Ulrike: And I suggest that successful collaboration demands good communications – always a challenge in such a diverse and increasingly widespread, growing organisation.

Adrian: You’re absolutely right. Improved communication is needed to ensure our members have the right tools to promote the work of the SAI Platform in their organisations and their wider communities. It’s vital we stay tuned to members’ needs and regularly reach out to better understand how the SAI Platform can bring the value they’re looking for. Of course, members have a role here too, to promote the SAI Platform and raise its profile by sharing on social media and through webinars.

Ulrike: You mentioned increased focus on Working Groups and measuring their success. How would you describe the specific role of the Working Groups, and how can we consolidate their activities?

Adrian: I would say the Working Groups naturally lead on programs specific to raw materials – from projects at farm level, to working across the membership and across wider industries with local partners. Something common to all Working Groups, however, is the need to encourage further adoption of good farm practices by either the FSA or the maturity levels within the Dairy Sustainability Framework when it is about dairy, as well as further developing tools themselves. The FSA is a valuable way of consolidating the other assets created by SAI Platform.

Ulrike: I agree, the FSA is a great way to measure progress towards sustainable farming practices and making sure they’re aligned with our sector Policy and Practices documents, Practitioner’s Guide for Sustainable Sourcing and recommendations for Sustainability Performance Assessment (SPA). I am pleased that we have also helped to build consensus about a slightly different implementation approach for the DSF in dairy.  It’s also an important mechanism for the industry to drive continuous improvement, providing a consistent, efficient tool for farmers to validate their own progress and targets. But we need to make further progress – how else do you think we should be consolidating we’ve done?

Adrian: Ulrike, you spoke about expanding our global presence. To me, this is very important and I want to ensure we maintain the right profile for SAI Platform overall and on behalf of our members. We need to strengthen our focus in Australia and Brazil and ensure we’re driving the right progress in these regions, and, leading from our Conference and General Assembly in China, we’ll zero in here too. Further ahead, we’re looking to have a clear and strategic approach in the US.

We’ll need to focus on building successful collaborations with other like-minded organisations, such as the Sustainable Rice Platform, Field to Market and others, to consolidate our work to drive sustainable farming practices in particular sectors.

We should also ensure that we align on the right performance management tools and prevent the duplication of tools and activities.

Ulrike: I couldn’t agree more. What about advocacy, the third of your focus areas? Advocacy is fairly new for SAI Platform – what do you think needs to be done to ensure we promote our vision and seek wider adoption?

Adrian: Well firstly, we must always remember that advocacy is not for advocacy’s sake, but to support our vision. We need to clearly articulate the value of sustainable practices for farmers and the value chain, define metrics to measure progress and identify key barriers to progress as key goalpost for advocacy. I would like to see an internal taskforce build a clear proposal on advocacy and engage with the membership as part of the process.

Ulrike: That sounds like a good idea. SAI Platform truly is a member-led organisation, and it’s important we involve members as closely as we can in strategic decisions like this.

Adrian: Exactly. SAI Platform is truly an organisation of the membership, for the membership, and by the membership and I am confident in the commitment of the ExCo, the Secretariat and all the membership in its continued success.