There is an urgent need for organizations in the agricultural sector and the food industry to adopt sustainable working practices to reduce the environmental impacts of their activities, while meeting the challenge of an expected 50% increase in global demand for food. As in other sectors, organizations in the agriculture and food industry face significant economic pressures and must balance sustainability considerations with the need to operate a viable and competitive business. The adoption of sustainable working practices can make sound business sense, resulting in increased profits and other benefits; however, sustainability is still not a management priority in many organizations and relatively few have achieved the kind of holistic sustainability initiatives associated with business benefits.

Building on the findings from recent research on sustainability, this article argues that sustainability must be viewed in organizational transformation terms and that like other forms of large-scale business change, it can only succeed if addressed using an “art and science” approach. Like other organizational transformations, sustainability initiatives are subject to a high rate of failure, often due to a lack of attention to the “art” or the people-related aspects of change. However, there is also a need to apply “science” to organizational change, in the form of project management and other specialist tools and techniques.