How Can Business Partner to Drive Responsible Sourcing?

Join this online discussion to explore how businesses are forging partnerships with others to make the sourcing of food and agriculture sustainable, inclusive and a force for good.

Live Panel

Thursday 25 April 15:00 BST / 10:00 EDT. ADD TO CALENDAR


Responsible sourcing makes sense from a business and social impact perspective. Many companies support farmers in their supply chains to strengthen the quality, reliability and sustainability of critical supplies. Sustainable supply chains can also result in increased productivity for farmers and the improved livelihoods of communities living in poverty. This discussion will explore how businesses are forging partnerships with others to make the sourcing of food and agriculture sustainable, inclusive and a force for good.

Yasmina Zaidman, Chief Partnerships Officer, Acumen
David Norman, Challenge Director, Business Fights Poverty
Mark Muckerheide, CEO CARE Social Ventures, CARE
Mario Elias Gonzalez Lupercio, Shared Value & Innovation Leader, CEMEX
Darrell High, Cocoa Manager, Nestlé
Henning Ringholz, Senior Executive, Small Foundation
Hina West, Head of Managed Partnerships, WWF


  1. What does responsible sourcing mean and why does is make sense from a business and social impact perspective?

  2. What are the challenges to driving responsible sourcing and how are these being tackled?

  3. How can businesses and other organisations collaborate on a bigger and more impactful scale than ever before?

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Hi and welcome to this month’s Business Fights Poverty online written discussion. A reminder, to add your own comments - you need to be logged in - which you can do via the top right of the screen.

We’ll be starting the discussion in 10 mins.

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As we start the live portion of today’s discussion, can I invite each of our expert panellists to introduce themselves:

Hello! This is Yasmina Zaidman and Emily Gannam from Acumen.

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Hello - I’m David Norman, Challenge Director with Business Fights Poverty

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My name is Hina West, and I am privileged to be leading WWF UK’s incredible corporate partnership management team - current partners include HSBC, Sky, Unilever, M&S, John West (Thai Union Group), Coca Cola, AB InBev, Mondi, MBNA, Sodexo, Hull FC, Next, Sony & TESCO. For more info:

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Hello. This is Mark Muckerheide from CARE Social Ventures.

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Hi, I am Henning Ringholz, Senior Executive at Small Foundation.

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First question for everyone today:

Q1: What does responsible sourcing mean and why does is make sense from a business and social impact perspective?

I’m Darrell High, at Nestlé, head of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, our sustainability strategy for cocoa.

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I would define responsibility in sourcing as a dual challenge: On the one hand, it means taking into account long-term effects of your actions on your own business. On the other, it is about considering the consequences of business decisions on the outside world, the environment, business ecosystems etc. Of course, a business operates within this system as well, so the two of them are interlinked and self-reinforcing. As an example, whilst it is possible to run an extractive industry for short term gains, squeezing out the maximum of resources from local communities and the environment, this will result in a backlash. Local communities may resist the business, leading to pressure on politicians to revoke your license to operate. On the long run, negative externalities such as ecological problems (oil spills, water contamination etc) are likely to affect the business as well, causing talent flight, high sickness rates and negative PR. Thus, responsible sourcing makes sense for any business that is not only after short-term gains.

To me, responsible sourcing both means two things. The first is ensuring the entire supply chain is compliant with all local, federal and international laws and guiding agreements in all places the supply chain operates. The second is using supply chain operations to improve the social and environmental impacts. The former is important since companies need to adhere to governing laws and agreements. For the latter, companies that have lead in the responsible sourcing have both found ways to increase profits, improve reputation, improve social and environmental outcomes and have consistently been linking to greater shareholder returns.

Hi, this is Mario from Mexico. I am Shared Value & Innovation Corporate Leader at CEMEX. Happy to be here.

For WWF, responsible sourcing is a crucial part of our vision for all businesses to work in a way that ensures both people and nature thrive.

This is essential because our world is under threat like never before. We are the first generation to truly understand we’re destroying the planet – with all the human costs this threatens – and could be the last that can do anything about it.

We know our planet’s resources are being used up faster than nature can restore itself and our climate is changing. Just looking at our food system, the way food is produced globally is responsible for almost 60% of global biodiversity loss and up to 30% of our global greenhouse gas emissions. This has devastating consequences for individuals and communities. It also simply doesn’t make business sense. The future success of our global economy and the businesses operating within it depends on a healthy planet and stable societies.

So businesses have a commercial imperative, let alone the moral dimensions, to ensure they’re sourcing responsibly.

A1: For me, responsible sourcing means ensuring a company has a positive impact through its supply chain, both through actively tackling the full range of possible threats to workers’ wellbeing and to the environment, and through ensuring the value chain delivers real benefits for people involved at every level. Sourcing can offer some of the broadest opportunities for companies to make positive impacts across society, going far beyond the immediate livelihoods and economic benefits of their direct operations.

Responsible sourcing means paying attention to critical social, environmental, economic and animal welfare issues when obtaining raw ingredients.
From a cocoa perspective, we’re particularly concerned about farmer poverty, child labour, deforestation
It makes sense from a business perspective because consumers, investors, NGOs, governments and media see the problems and expect us to do something about them
It makes sense from a social impact perspective as we do have some influence to assist and correct issues, but important to say we don’t control all aspects of what happens in our supply chains.

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For us at Acumen, Responsible sourcing means going beyond harm reduction, and sourcing in ways that strengthen communities and maintain a healthy environment. The future of responsible sourcing will explore different kinds of relationships with producers and workers, and will involve business models that are truly inclusive and participatory, where farmers and workers have an opportunity to shape, benefit from, and even own the businesses that they help to sustain through their efforts.


Resposible sourcing can help a company develop strong and mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with suppliers and their employees, potentially including smallholders and other low-income families. Benefits for the business can include improvements in quality and reliability of supply, along with risk reduction through diversification of supply and avoidance of all the social and business harm caused by child labour, modern slavery and other human rights abuses. Social impact can go well beyong the avoidance of negatives, to include enhancement of livelihood opportunties, diversification of income sources, support in ensuring the long-term sustainability of production at each level in the supply chain, creation of opportunities for women and marginalised groups, building up of assets and infrastructure that increase productivity, expansion of countries’ tax base and contribution to sustainable economic growth.

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Great to see “going beyond harm reduction” in the first line here! I agree: sourcing is potentially the area where companies’ positive impact, both socially and environmentally, can go far beyond the direct economic benefits of their immediate operations.

I agree Henning that if the environmental implications of business operations are not recognised there will no raw materials available for the business to continue long-term - it’s just not sustainable.