After a sequence of virtual events – the last one hybrid – the Living Wage & Income Lab returned to an in-person setting. The session had speakers from the Dutch Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (DISCO), B Lab and Trabocca reflecting on the importance of partnerships to drive change in the food sector. More importantly: how can we make such joint efforts actually work in practice?
The idea of joining forces and working collaboratively sounds beautiful in theory. But, in practice, its efficiency depends on aligned goals and a lot of flexibility. On the journey towards living wages and incomes, these are key attributes for developing efficient partnerships at all levels of the supply chain. As a process that depends on intensively sharing of data, knowledge and insights with one another, each actor has a key role to play in fighting poverty and enabling food workers at the end of the chain to get their share of the profit.
Bringing the different angles that could be featured in a partnership in the agri-food sector: a multi-stakeholder platform, a certifier, and a company. Bernard Gouw, representing B Lab, a private certification of ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance of companies sharing the initial reactions around their recently implemented living wage guidance, which is setting the stage for 5,600 companies that are now B Corps. Arjen Boekhold, representing DISCO - and also bringing his expertise as a co-founder of Tony's Chocolonely, helped us set the scene from his years of dealing with expectations and duties of companies, governments and civil society organisations in the fight against poverty in the cocoa sector. Finally, we had Cerianne Bury, quality manager at Trabocca. She shared with us a concrete corporate example from the Dutch specialty coffee importer, who in a partnership with Fairfood, Simon Lévelt, with local buyers and the Dutch government is working towards a living income for their Ethiopian coffee line.
The key takeaways of the session can be read here. In December, we are kicking-off the series of talks From Pilot to Strategy, focusing on the elements needed to turn living wage and income programmes into actual business practices. For starters, we will apply the gender lens to achieve better incomes and wages worldwide. The importance of supporting female farmers and workers in global food supply chains has gained attention, but how exactly is the financial empowerment of women key to future-proofing agri-food businesses? Join us for a hands-on session on how to ensure that pilots translate into real impact for female farmers around the world, with examples from programmes in Côte d’Ivoire, India and Kenya. More information is coming soon, but for now, be sure to register!