global perspectives

5 ways to support the agriculture sector to evolve and respond to the climate challenge

06 June 2023 / WORDS BY Dr Carter Ingram and Dipti Patel

Last week Pollination participated in the Future of Food USA Forum in Minneapolis, Minnesota, moderating a panel discussion on moving brands from climate commitments to action and participating in a discussion on using a landscape scale approach to sustainable sourcing to secure a forest positive future. The Forum brought together leading brands and key stakeholders to identify the main areas of opportunity and innovation within the food and beverage industry, including regenerative and climate-smart agriculture, supply chain resilience, nature and land use, and farmers of the future. Following the event, Pollination Executive Director, Carter Ingram, and Director, Dipti Patel, provide their insights on what is needed to spur the necessary change in the agriculture sector: 

Farmers and ranchers must be at the centre of the table 

Farmers are critical to solving the climate crisis. Given many of the costs and risks associated with making a nature-positive, climate transition are borne by farmers, they must be central to the development of climate solutions and tools including financing and funding opportunities to enable implementation of climate smart agriculture. 

Climate and nature are big problems, and big problems require stakeholder collaboration  

Collaboration across the full value chain is essential for the agriculture sector to realise climate and nature reductions and benefits. No one corporation or industry group can solve these issues alone. In many cases, unlikely partnerships across farmers, governments, corporates, and local communities are needed to address big issues, such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity.  

Perfect should not be the enemy of the good 

Sustainability data collection and reporting continue to require significant time and effort for businesses, especially as new frameworks emerge and existing frameworks get updated with new requirements. Measuring the environmental outcomes of climate-smart agricultural practices is complex and the goalposts for reporting in climate commitments are frequently moving. However, seeking complete data sets or aligning to highly complex reporting framework diverts businesses time and resources from actions that are critically needed to advance and scale climate-smart agricultural practices. The sector needs to work together to develop pragmatic approaches to measuring, managing, and reporting the climate and nature impacts of practices.    

The importance of education and technical support 

Farmers need to be empowered with the technology, information, and tools they need for success. There are limited resources and technical assistance programs that enable farmers to properly assess the business case for climate-smart practices and select the right practice for their farm, especially in emerging markets and rural areas. Every stakeholder group has a unique role to play in providing these resources to farmers.  

Private sector finance is critical to closing the climate finance gap for agriculture 

The climate finance gap for agriculture is massive – the amount of funding needed for agriculture to reduce emissions to limit warming to 1.5°C is significantly greater than the investment reaching the sector today. Farmers need financial solutions that incentivise them and help de-risk the implementation of climate-smart practices. This will require a broad range of solutions, from reduced loan rates to adjusted insurance premiums, that provide farmers with the right financing at the right time for the right practice.  


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