Most of the 3500 people I was mingling with at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris today were researchers and policy-makers, but we also heard from some companies. Danone, Mars and Firmenich (Swiss fragrance company) described activities that seem to me to represent a ”responsibility revolution.”

These ”revolutionary” activities are supportive partnerships along supply chains, including with the farmers on which the companies are ultimately dependent. In Sweden Saltå Kvarn does similar things, but for the multi-nationals, the farmers are a long, long way away, down complex supply chains.

Firmenich, for example, is helping smallholders improve yields of key ingredients such as vanilla and cardamom, whereas Danone is offsetting for the carbon emissions of some of its products ”from field to customer,” in exactly the same way as ZeroMission’s customers Max Hamburgers and Arvid Nordquist. For the CEO of Danone ”carbon offsetting is not an additional voluntary cost, it’s an essential investment.”

You could argue that looking after partners all along your supply chain is just enlightened self-interest, but whatever the motivation, it’s a stark contrast to the irresponsible trading of recent decades.

Carbon offsetting can be a relatively straightforward first step in implementing this extended responsibility. There are standardised methods of measuring emissions from supply chains, and high quality agroforestry and land-use offsets available. As our understanding and measurement of other negative impacts improves, then companies will be able to take full responsibility for these impacts too. Once the downstream impacts of products are also addressed, the ”responsibility revolution” will be complete.





I was in Copenhagen for COP15 when hopes of a meaningful climate agreement were dashed. Now in Paris for COP21, what can I expect?

My inbox is flooded with information and comment about COP21 but the wisest words I’ve heard so far were from Lena Ek, former Swedish environment minister. At an SVN Sweden seminar on Tuesday she predicted the UNFCCC will reach an agreement, but it won’t go far enough or be strong enough, which is not surprising given the number of countries (195) involved in the negotiations.

But Lena Ek went on to say that COP meetings aren’t just about the top negotiations. When all the world’s leaders get together, the rest of us also get on board.

About 50 000 people are expected to attend the official COP21 events. But hundreds of thousands more are engaged in other ways. From climate marches to million dollar investment funds, people in all parts of society, all over the world, are taking action. On Monday Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to increase investment in early stage clean energy innovations and nearly 100 of the world’s largest companies have signed up to science-based emission reduction targets. In Paris today mayors of 80 mega cities have been discussing green solutions for urban living and a new FairTrade climate standard was unveiled. Over the weekend twelve initiatives will be launched at the Global Landscapes Forum alone.

While I’m confident that the world’s leaders will reach an agreement at COP21, my hopes for the details of that agreement are not so high. But I expect real results to be achieved from the simultaneous outpouring of energy and initiatives from countries, companies, NGOs and individuals, thanks to COP21.