Greening the Agro-Food Chain: Better Policies Are Needed

4497_image002Last week in Paris, business executives and government policy makers held their first OECD workshop on how to make the agro-food chain greener and more sustainable for all.

The topic of green growth in the food and agriculture sector was at the core of discussions – organized by the OECD secretariat and BIAC, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, part of USCIB’s global network – which were held under the banner of “Green Growth in the Agro-food Chain: What Role for the Private Sector?”

A number of USCIB members joined Helen Medina, USCIB’s senior director of product policy and innovation, at the workshop. Participants agreed that business is the leading driver of agricultural productivity and resource efficiency, but that sound policies are necessary pre-requisites in order to realize the full potential of greening the agro-food chain.

The growing challenges facing the sector were addressed, such as climate change, rising demand for food, shifting diets, soil degradation and competing demands for vital resources such as water. These challenges oblige the sector to do more with less – i.e., increase agricultural productivity to meet growing demand, but in a sustainable manner.

USCIB members highlighted several areas that OECD governments can work on to promote sustainability, including:

  • long-term, fact-based, risk-based, predictable and interpretable regulatory processes
  • good governance and well-functioning institutions (notably to protect intellectual property and land rights)
  • international and cross-discipline collaborations in the area of R&D and opportunities for international cooperation in basic research
  • closer cooperation between the public and private sector
  • fostering trade and investment liberalization to facilitate the development and diffusion of technology
  • increasing access to financial services in rural areas and for farmers in order to increase capital investment
  • an overall enabling policy framework that provides adequate incentives to create and adopt new technologies in all areas.

“We must collectively look at the problems to identify and answer the questions.” said Denise Knight, director of sustainable agriculture with The Coca-Cola Company, In remarks to the workshop. “Coke’s business strategy includes taking a holistic and integrated approach that recognizes the value of the services provided by intact ecosystems. We believe in working with partners across sectors, business, government, and civil society, to share our expertise and work on coordinated approaches to resolve problems. But, we also look to governments to reduce trade barriers and streamline the regulatory environments so that we can fully realize our strategy for sustainability.”

Other participating USCIB members included Croplife USA, McDonald’s and Monsanto.

Business representatives reminded governments of the importance of measuring performance in order to track progress. The OECD can play an essential role in greening the agro-food chain by generating data, sharing best practices and encouraging international and economy-wide policy cooperation and dialogue with the private sector.

Staff contact: Helen Medina

More on USCIB’s Environment Committee

More on USCIB’s Food and Agricultural Working Group

Staff Contact:   Brian Lowry

Senior VP, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade
Tel: 202.617.3159

Brian Lowry leads USCIB’s policy work on trade, health, food, agriculture, chemicals, and intellectual property. He also coordinates USCIB’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Lowry joined USCIB in February 2021 having previously worked as an executive in the agriculture and crop science industry. Through his role as an executive, Lowry was also a longtime USCIB corporate member leader, as well as co-chair of USCIB’s working group on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda. Lowry was also the first board chair of the UN Global Compact Network USA.
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