With the world's population expected to exceed 9.1 billion by 2050, massive strain will be put on the global food supply chain. Feeding a growing global population will require a multi-faceted approach which takes into account ecological and natural resource limits, safety and quality of produce, social challenges and rural livelihoods.

GIFT’s 47th Global Leaders Programme (GLP) included a field project in Changchun, Jilin Province, China. Twenty business executives from nine different countries took part in GIFT’s flagship two-week programme to apply their leadership skills towards a project focused on community based Natural Farming, a socially and ecologically sound alternative to large-scale industrial farming operations.

GIFT partnered with Yunfeng Farming Cooperative ("Yunfeng") and Shijie Agricultural Technology Development Co ("Shijie") who are pionners in Natural Farming in China.

Participants were tasked to develop recommendations to support the creation of a national Natural Farming Alliance, with a long term vision to revitalise the countryside while producing safe, healthy food for consumers.

For a summary of the programme check out the GLP Page. Download Executive Summary in English and Chinese as well as Business Plan in English and Chinese.


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Mainstreaming bioplastics in China

Wuhan, China, 22 June - 3 July 2015

Bio-based plastic is emerging as a sustainable alternative to everyday plastic which is traditionally derived from fossil fuels. Produced primarily from renewable sources bioplastics has a lower carbon footprint, reduces oil dependency and is eco-friendly.

The Wuhan Huali Environmental Technology Co., Ltd (Huali) is China's largest starch-based plastic producer and the second largest globally. It was founded in 2000 by Zhang Xianbing, a former teacher, civil servant and successful real estate businessman. With oil prices at an all time low it faces tepid market demand and stiff competition from traditional plastic. A 25 member international team of seasoned executives representing over 15 different organisations and 10 distinct functional expertise travelled to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province for the 41st Global Leaders Programme and presented Huali with a strategic business plan to grow its domestic business and regain competitiveness.

For a summary of the programme check out the programme round-up.


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During the experiential component of the 36th Global Leaders Programme (GLP) participants worked closely with Gansu Modern Forage (GMF), a leading Chinese producer, processor and merchant of alfalfa products for the domestic Chinese animal feed and animal husbandry markets.

GMF was established in 2009 by one of the founding shareholders of China’s top dairy company Mengniu and last year achieved sales of over RMB100 million. A 25 year veteran of the dairy industry, GMF founder and chairman Zhang Yuping has, since the company’s inception, worked closely with alfalfa farmers, collectors and agricultural co-ops as well as leading national research bodies to improve the quality and quantity of alfalfa produced locally. GMF’s operational hub and alfalfa pellet plant is in Dingxi Prefecture, one of the nations least developed areas situated 100km from the Gansu provincial capital Lanzhou.

Over the course of the GLP the participant group who came from a variety of national and professional backgrounds including companies and organisations such as HSBC, ORIX Corporation, Indonesian conglomerate Astra International, German think tank the Heinrich Boell Foundation and Harvard University, developed recommendations for the company to strengthen its supply chain and scale up its production to achieve sales of RMB1.3 Billion in the coming five years.

For a summary of the programme check out the programme Round-Up. Download the Business Plan in English and Chinese.


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Promoting low-carbon development in Shanxi

Youyu, China, 27 August - 7 September 2012

GIFT’s 29th leadership programme tailored for ORIX Corporation marked its most diverse participant group to date. 24 of the group’s senior executives from 16 different countries and regions joined forces in Hong Kong and Shanxi Province, China for the ORIX Global Leaders Programme (GLP). The participants looked at a relatively young industry in China – energy management services, and its potential implementation on the county level. From their field visits and studies conducted in Youyu County, a mining region nationally famous for its dramatic accomplishment in government-led reforestation initiatives: from 0.3% of forest coverage 60 years ago to 53% today;  the task for the team was to draft a roadmap for establishing an Energy Service Company, or ESCO, in Youyu.

With the project partner Global Environmental Institute (GEI), a Beijing based NGO dedicated to using market-oriented approaches to solve environmental issues, the GLP team visited the local coal mine and power plant, in addition to factories, corporates, small businesses, financial institutions and other organisations. Based on their findings, the participants proposed a detailed business plan. The plan mapped out the potential opportunities for developing the energy management industry in Youyu, and proposed a county-level ESCO to be established, adapting the Energy Management Contracting (EMC) model. The proposal highlighted key resources that the ESCO would need, and provided some key strategic recommendations. The project team also saw strong potential that this model could be replicated in other parts of China.

For a summary of the programme check out the programme Round-Up.


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One of the most important socio-economic issues for China is its growing rural migrant population. In July 2011GIFT facilitated the 3rd annual Global Leaders Module (GLM), a component of the annual Senior Management Programme at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy which worked directly on this issue.

Participants travelled to Beijing to work closely with Compassion for Migrant Children (CMC), an NGO that delivers social and educational programmes for migrant children and their families, to assist them in drafting a set of strategic recommendations on CMC’s five- year expansion plan. The research briefing note that accompanied this programme outlines China’s current socio-economic status, and also the rising disparity between local and migrant access to education, social support and employment within China’s cities.

The programme culminated in a social policy conference in Beijing where the participants presented their recommendations for the next phase of CMC’s development. For a visual overview of the programme and a comprehensive review of the field-trip please refer to the round-up.


The 19th YLP was a tailored programme for 31 managers from American International Assurance (AIA). The team came from a variety of business functions and eight different countries throughout Asia. Their task was to create a social business model to aid the income generation of smallholder farmers through a comprehensive agricultural supply chain. The lack of economies of scale and access to capital makes it difficult for small-scale organic farmers to make a healthy profit from their produce. 

Global Village of Beijing (GVB) has been working closely with the local government in Wuxi, Chongqing to create a new model of rural governance and community development. GVB is also one of the first NGOs in China to promote sustainable living across the country. The business plan proposed for GVB and the Wuxi government focussed on building a trustworthy brand of Wuxi food products which could command a higher price in the market and meet the growing demand for safe food in China.