Impacts through policies and partnerships

IRRI photos

Scaling up private sector engagement in climate-smart agriculture

Priorities and Policies for CSA

The food we eat, much of it supplied through global agribusiness companies, has a big impact on the climate. At the same time, the food system is highly vulnerable to climate change. To address this, the world’s biggest agribusinesses, with collective revenues of over USD 800 billion, announced ambitious plans to tackle emissions and increase food supplies at the December 2015 Paris climate conference. In 2015, CCAFS contributed to this process.

The companies, associated with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), launched the Action Plan for climate-smart agriculture (CSA), which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and land use by half and increase the production of nutritious food by 50%. To successfully adapt to climate change, activities will be targeted at increasing the overall climate resilience of agricultural and farming communities worldwide. A further aim is to reduce annual agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% compared to 2010 levels.

The WBCSD is a CEO-led membership group of 200 global companies that aims to promote sustainable business practices, especially under its new Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi). The CSA Working Group is made up of PepsiCo, Monsanto, Olam, Kellogg Company, Starbucks, Diageo, Coca-Cola, Yara International, Tyson Foods, Walmart, Du Pont, Banamex, Unilever, PwC and Novozymes.

D. Somogyi

WBCSD approached CCAFS to partner with them to provide scientific advice, develop the action plan, and eventually monitor progress. The private sector is becoming increasingly aware of the need to develop climate-smart business practices, not only because agriculture and food supply chains are responsible for upwards of a quarter of global emissions, but also because climate change will have a major impact on food production – affecting these companies’ bottom lines – unless farming becomes more resilient.

To see first-hand how climate-smart agriculture can benefit farmers while helping them to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions, a group of agribusiness executives visited CCAFS Climate-Smart Villages in Haryana, India. There, they met farmers working with scientists to test and apply agricultural interventions that could help them to grow more food with less water and fertilizer and to plan for unpredictable weather. These tools and approaches, including laser land levelling, climate information services and NutrientExpert, make good business sense not only to the farmers, but also to large agricultural companies that depend on stable crop yields to maintain their supply chains.

“It was inspiring to see how farmers, business and research organisations can work together to build a locally relevant farming approach with reduced inputs, improved yields and most importantly increased resilience.” Jenny Bell, Europe Sustainability Risk and Impact Manager, PepsiCo

Working under the strategic and scientific guidance of the CCAFS programme, the Working Group identified priority actions that will set and meet meaningful targets to support smallholder farmers and bring prosperity through long-term relationships based on fairness, trust, women’s empowerment and the transfer of skills and knowledge.

The action plan is a work in progress, with 4 priority areas. Initially, work will focus on building up the resilience of smallholder farms, which make up the majority of farms in the developing world. At the same time, efforts will be made to scale up private sector investment in CSA, and improve businesses, ability to track, measure and monitor its progress. A final thread will be to work towards sustainable land-use commitments.

To develop sustainable long-term solutions, the Working Group is drawing on the expertise of the global agricultural community through regional dialogues with farming, non-governmental, research and agribusiness organizations around the world. The WBCSD has invited CCAFS to continue to working closely with them as the plan unfolds.