Discussing Sustainability & Innovation in Business
A candid chat with Friedrich Rantzau from sustainnovation
Friedrich Rantzau is an Agrarian Engineer by education, a self-described agricultural entrepreneur (an awesome title), management consultant by day, and a dapper gentleman by night... and basically all the time. We met him at the Bonaverde booth at CeBIT 2018, and quickly found him to be an incredible wealth of knowledge on the subject of sustainability in business, with a significant degree of cross-over with Bonaverde's mission to change the way coffee is produced, traded and consumed world-wide.
Looking at the present situation and the development expected within the imminent future, we can expect that the topic of nutrition within a still-rising global population will be of an increasingly more frequent point of discussion. We know that all our resources on this globe, both tangible and intangible, are limited, and we are already now living beyond the availability of the resources that we actually have.
The world of coffee too, will certainly be affected. In fact, it has been for quite some time. World Coffee Research has confirmed that the single biggest threat to the coffee industry is actually climate change. Interestingly, one of the key ways to combat this is to empower coffee growers themselves, and the supply chain as a whole, by providing the necessary tools to educate and enact sustainable business practices.
With this in mind, there is a high need to do something with respect to better manage and to more carefully - more sustainably - manage our resources. This can only be done through a very innovative approach. This can mean that on one hand technologies have to be developed, or existing technologies have to be used with respect to this subject. Or as bonaverde does with our Direct Trade mission, develop business models that open a new horizon, and apply available technology in order to achieve this.
In considering innovation versus a change in consumption; overcoming the challenge in sustainability has to come from several different angles. Whilst technology will always play an important role, it cannot be effectively utilised without a simultaneous occurrence of cultural change.
Certainly, a change to a new way of thinking surrounding consumption must occur.
Friedrich likens this approach to something familiar, for example presenting vegetarianism as a solution to global hunger issues. Whilst this may be a viable response to this problem, in practice however, fundamentally altering, or giving up altogether widespread entrenched behavioural and cultural patterns poses immense challenges which cannot occur overnight. Rather, Friedrich suggests that better management of resources must occur first as a path to achieve meaningful change. In short, sustainable consumption is a milestone.
Certainly, one important aspect to consider is that an increasing number of consumers wish to ensure that ethically speaking, production, supply and consumption are done so in an appropriate manner. Specifically, less exploitation of both the environment and the people involved in the whole production and supply process. At present, mankind are quite far away form an acceptable point. However, Bonaverde, and its business model, is one of an emerging breed of new businesses leading an era of change.
In a very general way, you have to somehow bring together business, and sustainable management of resources. Plus you must have social acceptance, which brings about the ethical means of implementing change. This would potentially be mutual between all companies and projects, regardless of their backgrounds or fields in which they work.
To have an impact in a society and in an environment, one does not have to renounce consumption at all or become an NGO, rather it’s about following a model which is sustainable, but also in-line with socio-economic realities, with an awareness of the real impact of your actions.
In summary, everything is irrefutably inter-connected: society, cultural acceptance, consumer behaviour, and in response the status quo of business and supply models — these are all pieces of a larger puzzle, and it is about their collusion in making a change towards better sustainability.
Check out Friedrich's LinkedIn for more information on his projects.