Marco Settembri is Nestle’s Chief Executive Officer for Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMENA). He is a three-decade company veteran joining the business in Italy in 1987. Throughout his career Marco has developed a clear vision for how the world’s biggest food & beverage company can combine serving customers and shareholders with an urgent need to protect the planet. Marco is acutely aware of his corporate and personal responsibility in this regard and this was the start of our conversation.

Mr. Settembri is unashamedly bold about the weight of responsibility facing boardroom leaders. He begins by affirming that the global business community has arrived at a “critical moment in history”.

Marco’s mission is ambitious yet essentially practical. He brings everything back to “the need to balance feeding billions of people (including the billions who are under fed) with the need to stop damaging the environment”. He explains that both sides of this mission are vast and complex with a multifarious set of component parts and inter-relationships. There are issues of hunger, nutrition and habitat. There are also problems with rising obesity and littered packaging waste. Marco highlights the gravity of the challenges faced by humanity and the urgent need for corporates and their partners to work together more collaboratively towards more sustainable food systems. The supply-chain takes on new significance here. Settembri is sincere in his plea for more united and practical problem solving. This is obvious in his pronouncement that even the biggest brand in the sector cannot have much impact unless they are joined by partners, competitors and suppliers.

He brings his point to life by shining a light on the disjointed and difficult realities of trying to drive efficiencies and sustainability across global value chains in the sphere of packaging recycling.

“An important part of our net zero GHG emissions commitment by 2050 pledge is around packaging. But each state around the world considers packaging materials in a different way when it comes to recycling. There is no standard, no harmonisation – and yet to take action the value chain desperately needs understanding. We want and need to contribute to better recycling infrastructure.”

Marco explains how the European Food and Drink sector is a particularly stark example of how these climate related convolutions challenge boardrooms by shining a light onto the agriculture component. “The agri sector is highly fragmented”, Settembri explains. He highlights how working together with skill and accurate stakeholder intelligence has become a hygiene factor because each country protects and promotes their industry in different ways, via different mechanisms. Marco is calling for greater investment to help farmers play their part in tackling the alarming climate situation. He is proud of the positive impact that “agri-preneurs” are having on the Food and Drink sector. Mr. Settembri explained how this spirit of innovation, advances in technology and a genuine shift in consumer demand were converging to accelerate change across Europe.