Elevating the Discussion: from a Supply Chain to a Systemic Approach for Sustainable Food and Commodity Supply Chains.
The UN Food Systems Pre-summit, celebrated on July 26-28 in Rome as the lead up to the Food Systems Summit in September, has come to an end, bringing excellent contributions on what actions and commitments are required to enable achievement of the SDGs by 2030.
The three-day event cast light on the world’s greatest food-related challenges, as a response to the growing problem of food insecurity – especially in developing countries. There was one insight at its centre: one of the key conditions for a new global model of agricultural production is transitioning to deforestation-free, conversion-free food supply chains.
Pascale Bonzom, Global Project Manager for the Good Growth Partnership spoke at an Affiliated Session at the UNFSS Pre-Summit: “A New Model for Agricultural Production: Deforestation-free and Conversion-free Supply Chains” hosted by the Food and Land Use Coalition, the Tropical Forest Alliance and WWF, bringing to the conversation the Good Growth Partnership’s innovative approach to transforming commodity supply chains through integrated collaborative action.
An inspiring panel including government and private sector speakers was moderated by Ed Davey, International Engagement Coordinator, FOLU (tag on LinkedIn) and Justin Adams, Executive Director, TFA (tag on LinkedIn). The event explored what is already happening to deliver on more sustainable and productive supply chains and what more is needed for the transition to take place.
As panellist Roselyn Foshuah, Director Climate Change from the Forestry Commission of Ghana pointed out, deforestation is a livelihoods problem, which aligns very much with the Good Growth Partnership’s overall objective and vision to decouple commodity supply chains from deforestation and conversion, while also enhancing small producers’ livelihoods.
Ms Bonzom highlighted in her speech that through the Partnership’s work on the ground, it has become clear that policy action attempting to curb deforestation and conversion from commodity production has so far mostly worked in silos, with Ministries of Environment pushing an agenda often disconnected from and sometimes even conflicting with that of the Ministries of Agriculture, Economy and Finance, for instance. She mentioned that it is extremely important that policies from various ministries and jurisdictional levels (from national to subnational) are joined up to support sustainable production. “In the Good Growth Partnership, the focus is on work done across ministries and geographic scales, to bring them together”, she said.
Adding to the problem, Ms Bonzom noted, is a tendency for various incentives to promote sustainable production and supply chains also to be deployed in silos. Great efforts are being made by off-takers to incentivize sustainable production through better pricing and contracting terms, or by financial institutions to screen out unsustainable production from their investment portfolio. However, without the right policies and their enforcement, as well as capacity in the system, producers may not be able to take advantage of these incentives, or they may lead to leakages.
Therefore, the Good Growth Partnership approach has been to integrate incentives for producers, so shifting production practices and improving land use. To incentivize sustainable supply chains, the alignment and strengthening of policies, capacities, the demand for sustainable products and the availability of sustainable financial services and products need to be improved in step, so that no factor lags behind another.
The Partnership has achieved significant results in terms of CO2 emissions avoided, thanks to strategies and policies it has helped to develop or strengthen. This includes the National Action Plan for Sustainable Palm oil in Indonesia, where seven new or improved policies are enabling sustainable production and land use.
But there is another key element for the Good Growth Partnership’s success. “Experience shows that there is a real need to take a systems approach,” Ms Bonzom said. There needs to be an elevation of the debate from a focus on supply chains to one that considers the full land use system in the landscape and jurisdictions where commodities are produced. “This will make the connections between various themes and sectors such as agriculture, biodiversity, climate, water, energy, livelihoods, health, gender, governance, etc. more obvious, and hence make the deforestation-free, conversion-free agenda more attractive to policy makers. They are looking to advance sustainable human development as a whole and the national agendas of producer and consumer countries alike, and the GGP systemic approach offers that potential.”
However, such a systems approach cannot be taken by policy makers on their own. Ms Bonzom identified the need to engage and enable stakeholders with different interests who all face common sustainability problems to align and collectively learn, innovate and act together in a complex situation. “A key suggested policy change is to support such multistakeholder processes for collaborative action.”, she stated.
Simon Sharpe, Deputy Director Policy Campaigns, COP26, agreed with Ms Bonzom that we must overcome the silos and take a systems approach.
Looking forward, Ms Bonzom mentioned that although commitments are essential, action is more important at this stage, with only nine harvests to go to 2030 to achieve the SDGs.
As HRH the Prince of Wales said during his closing address to the Pre-Summit, “The pressure for change is now being met by a substantial determined global response. But that response and its practical implication on the ground must be expedited, as the window of opportunity left to us is rapidly closing`
“The Partnership looks forward to being part of an Action Coalition on deforestation-free and conversion-free food supply chains, with serious funding behind it to continue the country work on the ground at landscape and national level, feeding into global dialogues and learning processes for scale-up and replication.”, Ms Bonzom concluded.
The September UN Food Systems Summit will present an ideal opportunity to advance this agenda in the run up to COP26 and beyond.
The full recording can be found here.