Friend of the month – August

In Have your say on August… Jeroen Oudheusden from the Netherlands!

The [flower] sector as a whole has to take responsibility and work together in solving issues and in projects aiming for higher levels of sustainability

We shared some words with Jeroen Oudheusden from the Netherlands, Executive Officer to Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) and our friend of the month of August. He knows where exactly flower industry meets sustainability and why. Let’s see!

FSF: Why is sustainability important for the flower industry?

Jeroen: The pressure to meet demand of the growing global cut flower industry has created sustainability challenges for the entire supply chain from producer to retailer. There is a clear need of a sector-wide vision on sustainability because fragmentation of sustainability projects and standards has led to inefficiencies in market uptake. Therefore the sector has joined forces in the form of the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative to make sustainable market transformation a reality by aligning ambitions, investments and actions.

FSF: What are the current sustainable trends for the flower industry?

Jeroen: Considering People, Planet and Profit the sector already addresses various issues like water use, pesticide use and working conditions. The market requirements for sustainable flowers and plants define the various topics and they also can be region specific. Water projects in The Netherlands can be just as relevant as similar projects in Africa and results should be translated into best practices and shared to become good agricultural practice for other producers to implement.

FSF: Could you describe the consumer to whom sustainability is important?

Jeroen: Buying sustainably produced flowers is not (and should not be) limited to a specific consumer type, it concerns us all. The initiatives taken by consumers and retailers, often also supported or strengthened by civil society organizations, are leading to more market demand for sustainably produced flowers and plants. The sector as a whole has to take responsibility and work together in solving issues and in projects aiming for higher levels of sustainability.

FSF: What will happen with those companies, which don’t implement sustainability in their business?

Jeroen: Companies which do not incorporate sustainable and responsible practices will not survive in the long run. The pressure from the people and the impact of mass communication will become even more powerful in the coming years. The flower sector in the main production countries already takes its responsibility by developing certification schemes to incorporate and communicate responsible business practices.

FSF: Is it too late to include sustainability at the company’s business plans?

Jeroen: No, it is never too late to start with responsible business behavior. As an example, the members of FSI have their own responsibility as a company and on top of that joined forces to work on the various issues together, in a pre-competitive way and aiming at 90% sustainably produced flowers and plants by 2020.

FSF: What is your opinion regarding collaborative work between competitive countries?

Jeroen: Improving sustainable practices should be a target for all parties involved and not be treated as competitive instruments. The FSI projects now underway are a good example since they aim to solve some of the highlighted issues, leading to a higher level of sustainability per topic/region and at the same time share the outcomes for the benefit of other supply chain actors.

FSF: What is the reason to build initiatives such as FSI?

Jeroen: The Floriculture Sustainability Initiative is initiated in 2013 by a number of the sector frontrunners and civil society organizations. FSI has the following strategy:            

  • Increase the demand for sustainable flowers and lower costs by providing transparency and comparability of the sustainability standards in floriculture and to have an opinion about the level of sustainability of these standards using the FSI Equivalency Tool as an instrument.
  • Prepare for the future by addressing sustainability issues in a pre-competitive way through the development of tools and best practices regarding topics like human rights, water use reduction, government engagement, waste reduction, use of pesticides and energy reduction. Specific topics can be addressed, and best practices for these topics will eventually raise the sustainability level in the sector.
  • Create change on the ground by taking joint action on the implementation of impact projects, through coordination of the actions, and the fundraising.
  • Improve the reputation of the sector by enabling joint communications about sustainability initiatives from the sector as a whole. This information spreading will lead to more awareness in the sector and can enhance cooperation for sustainability in the flower sector.

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I Do you believe in collaborative work between competitive countries? does sustainability has an important role in it? Please tell us what you think about Jeroen’s words, sustainability and the flower industry. We’d love to hear from you!