Transparency and accountability: Why indices matter

This week, the Access to Nutrition Foundation is publishing its Access to Nutrition Index which ranks food and beverages companies on their contribution to nutrition and health. ATNI is a unique global index, as it covers both forms of malnutrition (overweight/obesity and undernutrition). The aim of ATNI is to encourage foods and beverages companies to both increase access to healthy products and also to positively influence consumers’ choice and behavior. By providing in-depth comparative analysis, ATNI shows that the food and beverages industry is not a monolithic bloc and encourages a race to the top.

Nestlé embarked on this journey many years ago, and the recent announcement of our global ‘Nestlé for Healthier Kids’ initiative is another key milestone. The program includes the further development of healthier products and advice for families on nutrition and exercise. It aims to help 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030. Since its foundation, Nestlé has been committed to helping parents and caregivers provide the right nutrition to their children. With this initiative, Nestlé is accelerating the transformation of its food and beverage portfolio worldwide.

In addition to ATNI, other key indices include: the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which assesses economic, environmental and social factors; FTSE4Good, which measures the performance of companies demonstrating strong ESG practices and has developed Breastmilk substitutes criteria; and the CDP, which focuses on Climate Change, Water and Supply Chain.

Independent third party assessment of the private sector’s contribution is critical: it increases transparency and accountability, which is important for building trust with our stakeholders and people who buy our products. Indices provide insights to stakeholders and investors that help identify where a company leads, where improvement is needed or even where a company is at risk.

Nestlé is investing time and effort in providing these indices with data to help inform the assessments and scorecards. Such processes mobilize many in-house experts, and we conduct in-depth analysis of the results as the gap analysis provides a useful guide to sharpen our journey, our commitments and policies.

It is therefore important that indices provide recommendations that are actionable for the private sector, and that they provide useful and practical pointers. While we do not always agree with the methodology used by some of the Indices, we continue to engage with them to make sure that their methodology is rock solid. This is key to maintaining high levels of credibility among decision-makers, private sector and investors, as these indices have the potential to be a driving force in the marketplace.

Interest among the investor community is growing beyond the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) base, a clear signal the market is moving in the right direction. Indices help build the case for investors: investing in health or sustainability creates growth opportunities, ensures a productive workforce and is a foundation for stable, more equal and prosperous societies.

Going forward, such global indices can contribute to the dialogue on the role of business in Society. We collectively need to continue making the case for the wider industry as to why investing in health and sustainability makes business sense, and we will continue advocating in support of this agenda.

By Cécile Duprez-Naudy
Advocacy Lead at Global Public Affairs
May 2018

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