McDonald’s, Unilever, Pepsi, Adidas make news at Davos

As global leaders hobnobbed at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland this week, the gathering’s theme of “resilient dynamism” resonated around the planet through several big announcements from major corporations and nonprofits.

While not a huge surprise, considering its 2011 commitment to source its filet-o-fish sandwiches sold in Europe from only Marine Stewardship Council-certified seafood, McDonald’s scored with the biggest corporate sustainability news of the day in announcing it will become the first U.S. restaurant chain to serve sustainable seafood at all of its U.S. locations.

From the Huffington Post story on the announcement:

Packaging for all fish dishes at McDonald's 14,000 U.S. locations will be marked with the blue ecolabel of the Marine Stewardship Council, an independent nonprofit organization that sets standards for sustainable fishing based on fish stock health, impacts of the fishery on its ecosystem and the fishery's management system.

McDonald's fish was actually first certified in 2005, but the company has since performed an audit of its supply chain to ensure sustainability and traceability. Various types of fish have been used in McDonald's dishes over the years -- while some may have been considered sustainable at one point, the recent certification ensures that all seafood are from sustainable sources.

But there’s more that needs to be done to combat what’s been labeled a crisis of overfishing, others say. In a statement issued at Davos, the World Wildlife Fund joined public and private sector leaders in a call for a new global seafood traceability system to combat illegal fishing:

The pronouncement is the first multi-stakeholder call for such a system, and could herald an important role for the World Economic Forum in support of sustainable fisheries. ...

The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of overfishing, with nearly 87 per cent of the world’s commercial fisheries now fished to or over maximum levels, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). 

Meanwhile, experts estimate that 20 per cent of worldwide fish catches come from illegal fishing practices.

The world’s oceans are merely one small part of the agenda at Davos, where global problems and solutions are debated into the wee hours by major players whose fingers rest on the levers of global power.

Next page: Taking the spirit of the summit seriously