Food Security: Business & Development Co-operation

Paul Polman addressed an audience of business leaders and government officials at a conference in Amsterdam. The event was organised by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy, Agriculture & Innovation to discuss opportunities for businesses and governments to work together.

Opening with the message that the world is facing a "perfect storm" of energy, water and food crises, Paul's speech centred around four topics:

  • Unilever's credentials for being an active player contributing to the development of society
  • The potential of business and development co-operation in general
  • The global food security agenda
  • Recommendations for government support in this area

He explained that the relationship between business and development organisations has not always been easy, but is changing as people realise that the world's great challenges can only be solved through partnerships between the public and private sector.

He focused specifically on the role of women in agriculture. "Investing in women", he said, "has the highest potential for increasing productivity in agriculture and development overall."

He also talked about areas where food security is jeopardised by well-intended, but often ill-conceived state intervention. In particular, he cited how the rush to develop some biofuels risks reducing the land and water available for food.

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