Sustainability Pathways

FAQ

1. What is SAFA?

1. What is SAFA?

SAFA is short for the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems. The founding document of SAFA is the SAFA Guidelines. Together, the SAFA Guidelines provide a holistic and inclusive framework for assessing sustainability performance in the food and agriculture sector, including crop and livestock production, forestry and fisheries. At the request of SAFA practitioners, a series of other SAFA products have since been developed to support implementation of the Guidelines. To date, the SAFA series now includes the SAFA Indicators document and also the SAFA Tool. SAFA Indicators outlines the protocols for setting assessment thresholds for the default indicators provided. The SAFA Tool, is an easy-to-use software package that facilitates conducting a SAFA specifically at the supply chain level. SAFA Small APP is a future product to join the series that is currently being developed.  

2. What makes SAFA an all-inclusive assessment framework?

2. What makes SAFA an all-inclusive assessment framework?

The SAFA framework is holistic because it assesses sustainability performance against all component of sustainability (i.e. environmental, social, economic and governance) and it assesses performance in one area of sustainability in relative terms, as interdependent with performance in other areas. The SAFA framework is inclusive because it enables assessment at different levels depending on the user's role in the food and agriculture sector. For example, farmers, enterprises or governments can use the SAFA Guidelines for conducting an assessment at the level of the framework most relevant to them (i.e. policy at the theme level; supply chain management at the sub-theme level).

3. Why SAFA?

3. Why SAFA?

As the need for sustainable food and agriculture systems becomes increasingly urgent, there has been a variety of different sustainability initiatives launched in recent years with the aim of promoting a transition to sustainability. However, many focus on just one component of sustainability (i.e. environmental or social), while others are often only accessible to a specific type of actor (i.e. large enterprises). Each of these initiatives has an important role to play. SAFA builds on this, by providing ONE framework for multiple uses.

4. Who can use the SAFA Guidelines?

4. Who can use the SAFA Guidelines?

The SAFA Guidelines are able to be followed by a wide range of actors, for multiple purposes and at different levels. This provides all stakeholders in the transition to sustainable food systems with a clear and common framework language for assessing their system sustainability regardless of their size, geography or role. For example:

1.Food and agriculture enterprises (i.e. farmers or companies)

• Self-assessment for evaluating sustainability at the supply chain level

• Identifying hot-spots for performance improvement

• Gaps analysis with existing sustainability initiatives for thematic comparison

• Managing or benchmarking suppliers to improve sustainable procurement

2.NGOs and the sustainability community

• Monitoring the impacts of projects

• Sharing of, and global learning on, best practices and thresholds

• Gap analysis of existing and future initiatives to consider all aspects of sustainability

3.Governments, investors and policy-makers

• Informing sustainable development strategies and goals

• Determining policy, investment and procurement priorities

• Providing a global guidance on sustainability requisites for the regulation of global supply chains

5. How does SAFA relate to other sustainability initiatives?

5. How does SAFA relate to other sustainability initiatives?

SAFA is not a certification standard as it does not prescribe strict specifications for sustainability management. SAFA is not an index because it does not boil down performance into one value. SAFA is not a reporting framework because it is about understanding what data actually means in terms of sustainability performance and not just reporting it. Instead, SAFA builds on these other sustainability initiatives by providing a coherent framework for multiple uses on which to converge. SAFA can be considered like an impact assessment tool that is both compatible and complementary to most existing initiatives. For example, data used for other sustainability initiatives can also be used to conduct a SAFA, or, results from several initiatives can all be used in SAFA to understand performance in relative terms.

6. How can the SAFA Tool be used?

6. How can the SAFA Tool be used?

The SAFA Tool can be used by anyone wanting to conduct an assessment against the SAFA Guidelines at the supply chain level (e.g. farmers or companies). The following steps to using the Tool are recommended:

1. Download and read the SAFA Guidelines so that the SAFA principles and the assessment procedure are understood.

2. Download and read the SAFA User Manual and then download and install the SAFA Tool (version 2.1.50). Open the SAFA Tool and start the SAFA assessment.

3. Complete the assessment procedure referring to the supporting information available via the links within the tool when necessary (ï.e.''Manual" and "Indicator Information'').

4. Receive your final SAFA assessment polygon and results report.

5. Understand your key performance issues (strengths, weaknesses).

6. Create an action plan for how to improve the sustainability hotspots of your system.

7. Set a timeline for your next SAFA assessment in order to determine your progress.

7. How can SAFA results be used?

7. How can SAFA results be used?

Fundamentally, SAFA results are intended to be used as a guide for how to improve system sustainability, such as; to present an internal assessment of sustainability management; to facilitate learning and strategic planning; or to harmonize communication between stakeholders, mainly business-to-business communication. That is, SAFA results should be used to encourage internal activities that progress sustainability, typically through bringing different stakeholders together to improve on ‘hotspots’ identified in the given system. Furthermore, if SAFA results are to be used for external communication, it is a requirement that results are verified by a competent third party.

 

8. Can the SAFA logo be used?

8. Can the SAFA logo be used?

No. The completion of an assessment following the SAFA Guidelines does not allow the entity to use the logo of SAFA or FAO in any way that implies endorsement or certification, as SAFA results are not verified by FAO. However, reference can be made to “consistency with the SAFA procedures and principles’’ only on the condition that the assessment is made fully transparent with regards to all customizations (i.e. boundaries set, data sources, indicator selection, ratings etc.).

 

9. Who defined the SAFA Guidelines?

9. Who defined the SAFA Guidelines?

The SAFA Guidelines are a result of five years of participatory development, together with hundreds of practitioners from civil society, public institutions and private enterprises around the world. Three expert consultations, two E-fora that invited public contributions, and 30 pilot studies provided the necessary knowledge for shaping the Guidelines. SAFA is hosted by the Natural Resources Management and Environment Department of FAO. The scope and principles of SAFA have been defined with stakeholders, for stakeholders, and aligned with several other relevant international sustainability initiatives (i.e. Agenda 21, Bellagio Stamp). Future SAFA developments will continue to be carried out in the same participatory approach with the growing community of SAFA partners.

10. What does it cost?

10. What does it cost?

The SAFA Guidelines and SAFA Tool are available to be downloaded from the FAO website for free. The time required to do a SAFA assessment depends on data availability. It may take from a few days to a few weeks to complete, depending size of operations or assessment scope etc.

SAFA Fact sheet

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SAFA Brief

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