Gert van der Bijl is Global Programme Manager Livestock & Leather for Solidaridad. With almost 50 years of experience in facilitating the development of socially responsible, ecologically sound and profitable supply chains, Solidaridad has been a pioneer in the field of sustainable economic development. We are a civil society organization focused on international market-based solutions, working through nine regional expertise centres in 50 countries and across 13 global sectors.
Gert coordinates the Solidaridad livestock programme, working with colleagues in 10 countries on improvements and sustainability in the beef, dairy and leather sectors across Asia, Africa and South America. He is a member of the Advisory Council of GDAA /DSF and a member of the board of directors of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). Gert holds a Master’s Degree in Development Economics from Wageningen University.
How Solidaridad assesses the capabilities of the Dairy Sustainability Framework
There is no doubt that the global dairy sector has a huge part to play in achieving many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations. Dairy is an essential and increasingly important source of nutrition worldwide. The anticipated growth of the sector provides great opportunities to revitalize rural communities around the world.
The good news is that production growth can be achieved in conjunction with reducing environmental impacts. However, realising this potential requires an acceleration of the transformation towards a more sustainable dairy sector. The global dairy industry has a significant role to play here alongside governments and civil society.
Through the creation of the Dairy Sustainability Framework the industry has made a first and important step towards a collective sector-wide approach. The DSF helps to monitor and report, to align and connect activities. Flexibility and recognizing the diversity of dairy production systems are among the DSF’s assets. But the most important thing is to have a strong and shared ambition and act on it.
In order to secure the advantage of flexibility, it is important for the dairy sector to have an agreed view of the most important challenges and opportunities and set out its ambitions, targets and joint actions. One example is that from a global sector perspective, investing in improving the efficiency of small-scale dairy production in Africa and Asia is likely to be the most cost-effective way of reducing the sector’s GHG emissions while optimizing its social impact.
A number of dairy companies are working hard to ensure the sector uses responsible soy and other feeds. Others, however, are lagging behind. While some dairy companies are investing strongly in dairy development, others are committing less.
The industry needs to show more urgency and understand that not every dairy company can realize a sustainable dairy sector by itself. Dairy companies need to work with each other and with governments and NGOs. The Dairy Sustainable Framework has the potential to be successful in supporting this joint action.