Amid a growing global focus on private sector players embracing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is social and environmental sustainability on track to become as important as market share and shareholder value for companies?
From February 3rd to 7th, IFA welcomed 170 leaders from the international fertilizer industry and the wider business community to New York City to discuss innovative stewardship initiatives, learn more about sustainability reporting, get inspired by sustainability programs within the fertilizer industry, and understand expectations from the UN, finance and NGO communities.
The IFA Global Stewardship Conference was opened by Mostafa Terrab, IFA and OCP Chairperson, who welcomed CEOs, Safety, Health and Environment experts, agronomists and public affairs professionals from fertilizer producers and distributors from around the world with prominent experts from intergovernmental organizations and NGOs, policymakers, academia, business and engineering to take a comprehensive look at corporate SDG implementation.
The first edition of this new event covered all aspects of industry stewardship. At the level of fertilizer production, innovations and investments in energy and water efficiency, C02 and other emission reductions, were presented. With regard to fertilizer application, critical outcomes of the most recent UN reports and resolutions for phosphorus and nitrogen production and application management were examined and the positive contribution of fertilizers in terms of soil health and biodiversity, as were efforts to continuously improve nutrient use efficiency and minimize nutrient losses to the environment in order to help meet challenges facing agrifood systems.
Many of the external speakers saw the fertilizer industry having a crucial role to play in enabling more sustainable agriculture. “Our food system is bankrupting our healthcare system and the fertilizer industry is critical for addressing this,” said Roy Steiner, Senior VP of Food at the Rockefeller Foundation, while Ann Tutwiler of the Meridian Institute and SystemIQ explained how agrobiodiversity can mitigate climate change risks and saw the fertilizer industry playing a major role in helping countries to implement it.
With regards to sustainable production, Peter Levi, a leading energy analyst at the International Energy Agency, thanked IFA for its input into the development of a Nitrogen Technology Roadmap, which will outline ways to significantly improve the industry’s energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint. Following on, the renowned industry analyst Trevor Brown explained how green ammonia is increasingly becoming a contributor to achieving that long-term goal.
“As the fertilizer industry takes an increasingly holistic approach to stewardship, we were delighted to have had such prestigious speakers, as well as a wide range of excellent presentations from IFA members from across the world detailing their impressive sustainability initiatives,” said IFA Director-General Charlotte Hebebrand.
The event reflected the fertilizer industry’s growing focus on sustainability. “Sustainability is business, not something a company does in addition to business,” observed Candace Laing, VP of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations at Nutrien, while for Tip O'Neill, CEO of IRM, it required investment but “represents a huge market opportunity and leads to measurables returns”. Ben Pratt, VP of Public Affairs at Mosaic, meanwhile, asserted that the industry cannot afford “to step back from social and environmental responsibilities”. Hanane Mourchid, Senior VP of the Sustainability Platform at OCP highlighted the importance of addressing all internal and external stakeholders to spread and raise awareness of the SDGs.
Industry representatives also spoke of the increasing emphasis of the financial community on ESG reporting and called for a harmonized approach to reporting in order to ensure comprehensive, comparable and meaningful reporting.
The sustainable production and application of fertilizers supports sustainable food systems and mitigates climate change. “I am optimistic that through capital deployment, accelerated innovation and courageous leadership, the fertilizer industry will deliver in collaboration with communities and citizens” said Devry Boughner Vorwerk, CEO of DevryBV.
Given the important content of this landmark event, the session presentations have been exceptionally made available to the general public and are available here
About the International Fertilizer Association
The International Fertilizer Association (IFA) promotes the efficient and responsible production, distribution and use of plant nutrients to enable sustainable agricultural systems that contribute to a world free of hunger and malnutrition. IFA is the only global fertilizer association with a membership of more than 470 entities, encompassing all actors in the fertilizer value chain from producers through traders and distributors, as well as service providers, advisors, research organizations and NGOs.