Measuring And Reducing GHG Emissions In Agricultural Supply Chains
Trade-led growth has allowed communities around the world to prosper. Here is how prosperity can continue to be sustainably realised.
“The science is clear, we have to transform our food supply chains if we are to land anywhere near 1.5°C.” That was the frank assessment of Danielle Morley, CEO of nonprofit sugar cane organisation Bonsucro, during a session featuring experts in agriculture and supply chains at the UN’s COP28 summit in the UAE.
So how can that be achieved without undermining trade, competition and the ability of small-hold farmers to access international trade systems while driving the changes we need?
Building sustainability from the ground up
Globalisation and trade in intermediate goods have led to the growth of global value chains, but delegates at COP28 have heard that this has had positive and negative effects.
Trade-led growth has helped lift millions out of poverty, especially in developing countries.
Conversely, increased production and export market growth has led to the overuse of natural resources, higher emissions, and greater wealth inequalities.
Consumers increasingly demand more information about the sustainability of their purchases, and Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) have emerged as a market-driven response to that need.
How to protect food supplies while reducing emissions
There’s always a cost to a producer to participate in these standards systems, and without a shared financial responsibility for bearing those costs across the whole value chain, the unintended impact could be the exclusion of small-scale producers that are so vital to our food security, Morley cautioned.
But VSS can contribute to the UN’s sustainable development goals — as they target economic, social and environmental goals — promote trade, and grant local farmers access to international markets.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) research also shows that VSS increases crop productivity, the number of permanent workers and longer term contracts, as well as the ability for farmers to diversify by selling into new markets, which in turn increases livelihood security.
Companies like DP World offer services that can facilitate these advantages. End-to-end supply chain management brings simplification to a complex system at any scale, from local farmer to global wholesaler, as demonstrated with the success of Mozambique’s local citrus industry.
Sustainability changes are coming to our global food supply, concluded Margaret Kim, CEO of certification body Gold Standard, and making sure that farmers can expect a return on these changes will be central to the success of decarbonising global agricultural supply chains.