Prof Dr Rogier Schulte has recently joined LEI, the socio-economic research institute of Wageningen University and Research, as a senior researcher in Agricultural and Environmental Policy. He has twenty years of experience in research on sustainable agriculture in Ireland, where he worked with ministries, the industry and NGOs to mainstream sustainability as a key-driver of agricultural growth in the Irish national Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 strategies.
He is a member of the IDF Standing Committee on the Environment, and outgoing chair of the FAO Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership. He is a regular invitee to national and international foresight exercises, and is an adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Social Development at the Latvia Agricultural University.
He is the architect of Functional Land Management and coordinating the Horizon 2020 project LANDMARK (LAND Management: Assessment, Research, Knowledge base) for Teagasc (the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority). LANDMARK is developing tools for farmers and policy makers to optimise land management to deliver both food and ecosystem services. In this capacity, he works closely with colleagues in research institutes and Chambers of Agriculture across Europe, China, Brazil and Ethiopia.
Rogier Schulte1, Joan Reijs1, Willy Baltussen1 and Imke de Boer2
1Wageningen Economic Research, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
2Animal Production Systems, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Moving sustainability from the barricades to the boardroom: Global challenges for the dairy industry
In recent years, the livestock industry worldwide has developed a new approach to sustainable production: no longer is sustainability merely equated to an external constraint to production; instead, it is increasingly embraced as a key driver for growth and development. In effect, we are witnessing the mainstreaming of the sustainability concept from the barricades to the boardroom.
However, this consensus on the role of sustainability has led to new discussions and diverging views on what sustainable livestock production looks like in practice, how it can be incentivised, at which speed, and how it should be measured and verified. This societal debate has progressed to a point where it has now got “stuck” on four theses, relating to consumer choices. These theses hinge around:
In this presentation, we evaluate these four theses. We find that, while each of these may be valid and indeed be applicable in individual contexts, they are too one-dimensional to offer generic opportunities for progressing the global sustainability agenda. We thus suggest that, before we can find scientific answers for the “universally sustainable development of the livestock sector”, we have to first formulate the right questions. We propose the following four critical questions as alternatives to the aforementioned theses:
Whilst these four questions represent grand challenges for the industry, they allow us to search for context-specific, meaningful solutions. They enable us to “start walking” on the path of continuous and agile improvement of all aspects of sustainability, as exemplified by the Dairy Sustainability Framework.