Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (Foro FSN)

Convocatorias para la presentación de temas

¿Cómo incorporar eficazmente los costos y beneficios ocultos de los sistemas agroalimentarios a la toma de decisiones para su transformación?

Los sistemas agroalimentarios aportan beneficios vitales a la sociedad, entre otras cosas porque producen los alimentos que nos nutren, dan trabajo a más de mil millones de personas y conforman identidades culturales. Sin embargo, también contribuyen al cambio climático, la degradación de los recursos naturales y la pérdida de biodiversidad, al tiempo que no garantizan el acceso a una alimentación saludable y asequible para todos. La complejidad y las interdependencias de los sistemas agroalimentarios dificultan que los responsables incorporen a la toma de decisiones los costos y beneficios que generan.

La edición de 2023 de la publicación principal de la FAO “El estado mundial de la agricultura y la alimentación 2023”  (SOFA 2023) tiene como tema “Revelar el verdadero costo de los alimentos para transformar los sistemas agroalimentarios”. Al introducir el concepto de costos y beneficios ocultos de los sistemas agroalimentarios y ofrecer un marco que permita evaluarlos, este informe pretende iniciar un proceso que prepare mejor a los responsables de la toma de decisiones para adoptar medidas que orienten los sistemas agroalimentarios hacia la sostenibilidad ambiental, social y económica. El informe presenta los resultados de las evaluaciones de la contabilidad de costos reales (CCR) a nivel nacional para 154 países, y estima que los costes ocultos cuantificados a nivel mundial de los sistemas agroalimentarios ascienden a 10 billones de USD de paridad de poder adquisitivo (PPA) de 2020 o más (aproximadamente el 10 % del PIB mundial). Esto pone de relieve la urgente necesidad de tener en cuenta estos costos en la toma de decisiones para promover la transformación de los sistemas agroalimentarios hacia la sostenibilidad.

El informe SOFA 2023 afirma asimismo que, si bien las estimaciones mundiales de los costos ocultos cuantificados en el informe son útiles para concienciar sobre la magnitud del desafío, se necesitan más investigación y pruebas para el diseño y la aplicación de medidas e inversiones concretas que aborden los costos ocultos y mejoren los beneficios de los sistemas agroalimentarios. Esto debería hacerse mediante evaluaciones específicas basadas en la CCR, que tengan en cuenta los contextos locales para ajustar las estimaciones nacionales y considerar los costes de las diferentes vías de transformación.

Dada la relevancia de esta cuestión, por primera vez desde el lanzamiento de la publicación SOFA en 1947, la FAO dedica dos números consecutivos al mismo tema. El SOFA 2024 mostrará la flexibilidad de la CCR en su aplicación a diferentes ámbitos, desde un sistema agroalimentario completo hasta un único producto. A través de una amplia gama de estudios de casos, demostrará la importancia y los retos de incorporar los costos ocultos en la toma de decisiones para evaluar diferentes opciones de políticas y ordenación con el fin de transformar los sistemas agroalimentarios para mejor. Su objetivo último es preparar mejor a los responsables de la toma de decisiones para que adopten medidas que orienten los sistemas agroalimentarios hacia la sostenibilidad ambiental, social y económica.   

 

El equipo del SOFA invita a las partes interesadas a compartir ejemplos ilustrativos (estudios de casos) de evaluaciones existentes o en curso de los costos ocultos y los beneficios de los sistemas agroalimentarios para garantizar una amplia cobertura en todo el mundo y en todos los sectores. Asimismo, alentamos las contribuciones que profundicen en cómo se han utilizado dichas evaluaciones para informar a los responsables de la toma de decisiones y a otras partes interesadas a la hora de aplicar medidas transformadoras hacia sistemas agroalimentarios sostenibles.

Las contribuciones pueden incluir (entre otras cuestiones) la validación de la evaluación preliminar de los costos ocultos que ofrece el SOFA 2023, evaluaciones del modo en que el enfoque de la CCR puede adaptarse a las prioridades de los responsables de las políticas en diferentes contextos y la identificación de posibles zonas para un análisis más profundo.  Reconociendo la complejidad de abarcar todas las dimensiones de los costos ocultos, esta convocatoria de propuestas se dirige también a contribuciones/estudios de casos que analicen dos o más aspectos de los costos ocultos en las categorías medioambiental, social o sanitaria.  Puede tratarse de causas de costos ocultos como la escasez de agua, las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, las consecuencias para la salud de pautas alimentarias poco saludables o las consecuencias sociales (incluyendo la pobreza y la subalimentación) en un lugar concreto de un país o región.

El objetivo final es recopilar las aportaciones pertinentes, los mensajes clave y los estudios de casos a nivel nacional para contribuir al proceso de redacción del SOFA 2024 (que se publicará en noviembre de 2024). El equipo del SOFA examinará y seleccionará los estudios de casos pertinentes para incluirlos en el informe, teniendo en cuenta la relevancia y contribución a la diversidad (geográfica, sectorial y metodológica) de cada caso.

La convocatoria estará vigente hasta el 29 de enero de 2024.

Cómo participar en esta convocatoria de propuestas

Para participar en esta convocatoria de propuestas, regístrese en el Foro FSN, si aún no es miembro, o inicie sesión en su cuenta. Descargue la plantilla de presentación en cualquiera de los seis idiomas de las Naciones Unidas (inglés, francés, español, ruso, árabe y chino) y suba el formulario cumplimentado a la casilla "Publique su contribución" de esta página web. Le rogamos que limite la extensión de sus contribuciones a 2 000 palabras y que adjunte el material de apoyo pertinente. Para cualquier asistencia técnica, incluida la aplicación basada en la IA o la descarga o la carga de la plantilla de presentación, envíe un correo electrónico a [email protected].

Esperamos recibir sus valiosas contribuciones, que sin duda enriquecerán el contenido de SOFA 2024. 

Cofacilitadores:

Andrea Cattaneo, Economista superior y Editor de El estado mundial de la Agricultura y la Alimentación (SOFA), División de Economía Agroalimentaria (ESA)

Aslihan Arslan, Economista, SOFA, ESA

Ahmad Sadiddin, Economista, SOFA, ESA

Theresa McMenomy, Economista, SOFA, ESA

Elisa Ranuzzi, Becaria, SOFA, ESA

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Dear participants,

As we are currently working on shaping SOFA 2024, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the valuable contributions we have received, both through the submission template and the Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based interviewer application.

We received 69 submissions in total, covering a wide range of methods, approaches and agrifood system components from different stakeholders. The submissions are being reviewed by the SOFA team to select pertinent case studies to feature in the report considering the relevance and contributions to diversity (geographic, sectoral and methodological) of each case. The selected studies will contribute to the writing process of SOFA 2024 on “The use of true cost accounting to inform agrifood systems transformation”  to be published in October 2024. 

Stay tuned…

Thank you!

SOFA team

Sr. Rex Raimond

Transformational Investing in Food Systems
Estados Unidos de América

Dear Sir or Madam,

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: How can the hidden costs and benefits of agrifood systems be effectively incorporated into decision-making for transformation?

We are proposing a case study on our application of TEEBAgriFood to screen impact investment funds and their potential for contributing to better food system outcomes. 

Kind regards,

Rex Raimond

Director

Permanent Delegation of Brazil to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and related International Organizations

Italy

Dear Madam/Sir,

Please find attached Note Verbale n. 021.

Submission from BRAZIL

Although the costs of agrifood systems are constantly (and asymmetrically) emphazided during most of the discussions regarding the sustainability of the process, we do believe it is absolutely crucial to call attention to the distinguished benefits of such complex and essential human activity. For instance, agrifood systems are the main providers of calories and nutrients for human beings’ requirements, generate jobs worldwide and can participate as an important, strategic mechanism to balance Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Notwithstanding the fact that the present call announces that it seeks to "discover the true impacts, both positive and negative, of global agrifood systems", their beneficial aspects have not been explored accordingly. As a matter of fact, only unfavorable effects of the activity were portrayed by FAO’s flagship publication “The State of Food and Agriculture 2023” (SOFA 2023) (https://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cc7724en) and even the Call for Submissions (https://assets.fsnforum.fao.org/public/resources/2023-12/EN_TOPIC_SOFA2…). It is important to mention that although the SOFA 2023 edition does state in the introductory note that “Agrifood systems generate significant benefits to society, including the food that nourishes us and jobs and livelihoods for over a billion people”, the entire SOFA document is massively and exclusively focused on negative impacts of agrifood systems.

It is very much in this sense that we have critical concerns regarding the TCS (True Cost Accounting) approach methodology as the backbone of SOFA 2023. Leaving benefits aside (or even if only to be partially considered in second rounds or phases of the exercise) does not guarantee, at all, that transformative actions on agri-food systems can be adequately assessed or evaluated after consideration of hidden costs through TCA.

Moreover, as we could gather from the TCA definitions and meanings of hidden costs and hidden benefits as well as in the Executive Summary of SOFA 2023 (on pages xviii, xx, xxiii, for instance, and also, in other parts of the full SOFA document), these seem far from what would be considered as valid, more strictly correct, or really useful according to the classical literature of Cost-Benefit Analysis - CBA. In the literature of CBA (cf. Dasgupta et al., UNIDO Guidelines for Project Evaluation, for instance), all costs and benefits (visible, invisible, hidden, true, etc) of projects, activities, or programmes, must be considered properly in a sound analysis.

In sound CBA’s, costs are “sacrificed/foregone benefits”. As such, benefits (among which the hidden benefits of the SOFA TCA approach) must be appropriately valued, and cannot be just, or merely, reduced to a “negative” “reflection” of costs (negative hidden costs) as in the proposed TCA approach. Therefore, some of the affirmatives on the usefulness of TCA, such as, for instance, the one contained on page xxiii of the Executive Summary are very questionable – “… A comprehensive assessment of costs and benefits with TCA can also help businesses mobilize financial resources for the transition to sustainability ….”. The exact meaning of the statement remains to be clarified: (i) a comprehensive assessment of costs and benefits with TCA, meaning comprehensively assessing costs and benefits as per the definitions, meanings and methods of TCA? Or (ii) a comprehensive assessment of costs and benefits as contained, for example, in a sound CBA, but also using TCA? If (ii) is the chosen meaning, then a sound CBA seems more recommendable, and may suffice.

Despite these precautious remarks and considering that a second phase for SOFA may be forthcoming with more in-depth assessments targeting specific components or sectors of agri-food systems, we believe that Brazilian agriculture research institutions and other stakeholders would be willing to participate and contribute in this future process.

Having said that, through the document attached, we present a thriving, robust, and ambitious public policy, named ABC (Low-Carbon Agriculture) Plan, applied in Brazil and focused on sustainability and food security to harmonize sustainable development with mitigation and adaptation strategies against climate change throughout the rural production sector. This initiative, which also considers economic, environmental and social aspects, should work as an illustrative, distinctive example of (hidden) benefits of agrifood systems. Indeed, its focus makes the ABC Plan a global benchmark, unique in its scope, breadth and reach.

To explore existing case studies of agrifood systems benefits, the reading of the whole document entitled “ABC Plan: Ten years of success and a new sustainable form of agricultural production” is highly recommended. Both Chapters 3 (“Expanding results in the adoption of ABC technologies and GHG mitigation foreseen in the ABC Plan”) and 5 (“The ABC program as a finance instrument for climate-sustainable agriculture”) summarize and clarify some distinguished cases.

We believe that the ABC Plan is a very good example of transformative actions towards sustainable agrifood systems applied by Brazil and illustrates, quite remarkably, how decision-makers and other stakeholders are implementing the strategy and impacting the benefits of such systems. Hopefully, this initiative will inspire decision-makers elsewhere to adopt similar programmes to foster sustainable agrifood systems worldwide, to guarantee food security and nutrition for a growing global population, providing livelihoods to those along the food supply chain in an environmentally sustainable way (OECD, 2023). Furthermore, irrigation practices, considered within the ABC+ Plan, are also widely discussed as a key strategy for adapting agriculture to climate change to guarantee production as they contribute to avoid crop failures due to water stress caused by extreme weather events. Regarding mitigation, irrigated systems are effective in controlling GHG emissions, as they alter soil microbial activity and substrate supply, as long as the water use in irrigation is optimized, according to a broad review by Sapkota et al. (2020). In addition, studies on organic carbon levels in Brazilian sandy soils show that they can be reestablished to levels observed in native vegetation, after a long period under irrigation, and accumulate an expressive quantity of C per ha per year as compared to rainfed areas (Campos et al., 2020; Dionizio et al., 2020). Maintaining soil moisture increases carbon stock in the soil, as soils rich in organic matter retain more nutrients, increasing yield, while promoting carbon sequestration and storage. Finally, irrigation enables the use of “fertirrigation”, which allows the use of animal waste.

Moreover, agricultural subsidies should be considered as an important aspect of hidden costs as, according to OECD, “Producer Support Estimate” (PSE), the annual monetary value of gross transfers from consumers and taxpayers to agricultural producers, in 2020-22, was USD 234 billion (EUR 208 billion), per year on average, in OECD countries (Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2023).

References

Dasgupta, P., Marglin, S., Sen, A.K. Guidelines for Project Evaluation (New York: UNIDO, 1972).

OECD (2023), Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2023: Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/b14de474-en.

Saptkota, A, Haghverdi, A, Avila, CCE, and Ying, SC. Irrigation and greenhouse gas emissions: a review of field-based studies. Soil Syst. V.4, n.20, Apr. 2020. DOI:10.3390/soilsystems4020020

Campos, R, Pires, GF, and Costa, MH. Soil carbon sequestration in rainfed and irrigated production systems in a new Brazilian agricultural frontier. Agriculture, v. 10, n. 156, May 2020. DOI:10.3390/agriculture10050156

Dionizio, EA, Pimenta, FM, Lima, LB, Costa, MH. Carbon stocks and dynamics of different land uses on the Cerrado agricultural frontier. PLoS ONE v. 15, n. 11, Nov. 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0241637.

Kind regards,

Permanent Delegation of Brazil to the 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the 

United Nations and related 

International Organizations

Giulia Listorti and Esther Sanye Mengual

Joint Research Centre, European Commission
Italy

Dear FSN moderator,

Please find attached the filled template based on the Consumption Footprint - Food, an indicator that is being used to inform EU policy-making, that employs the Environmental Footprint method (recommended by the European Commission for life cycle data). 

As indicated in the template, this is an ongoing case study for which data is currently being revised, and could be shared by end of February 2024 if this would be of interest.

We remain available for further questions or clarifications.

Best regards,

Giulia LISTORTI

Team Leader, LCA food

European Commission, Joint Research Centre

Directorate D – Sustainable Resources

Unit D.3 - Land Resources and Supply Chain Assessments

Italy

Guillermo Spika

Representation of the Argentine Republic to FAO/IFAD/WFP
Italy

Esteemed Secretariat,

I hope this email finds you well and safe.

In this context of the consultation regarding the elaboration of the next SOFA 2024, Argentina would like to express its appreciation for having the opportunity to participate in such a relevant process.

Consequently, we would like to share, in the attached document, preliminary comments and suggestions that could enrich the conceptual approach of the upcoming edition of SOFA.

We remain at your disposal in case further details might be needed.

Best regards,

Guillermo Spika

Alternate Permanent Representative

Representation of the Argentine Republic to FAO/IFAD/WFP

Dear Team

I encountered different difficulties that prevented my intention to contribute to the request call on food system.

I have to travel to the rural areas after you let me submit my input even after the deadline for which I apologize for the inconvenience

I cannot provide structural contribution related to the set of question and comment on the submitted contribution. But, I want to reflect what I think as key challenge in my experience which may also apply to other, Hence, have a look at the below input and If you find something useful you can integrate it into the appropriate question or contribution

1. Concept and practice of food system I not adequately understood 

As you know, food system entail from site election (appropriate agro ecology for the type of crop), land preparation, pre and post harvest crop protection, harvesting, transportation up to reaching the table and fork

Food security is also ill perceived to some extent  since mainly focused on food availability neglecting the other pillar. Nutrition also did not get sufficient attention on stunting of children under the age of 5 

Research revealed that 8% of child death, 36%of stunting, 21% underweight, 7.14 % wasted children and inclusive breast feeding by 58% since lactating mother are not getting nutritious food

Hence, conceptual clarity and practical guidance should be improved and nutrition be given due attention to overcome stunting and wasting

2. Post  harvest management challenge

Although systematic assessment findings are not available it is estimated that about 25% to 30% of the produced food are lost due to failure in supply chain management, packing material and storage. These lose is much higher in horticultural crop (vegetable and fruit) than cereal, pulses and oil crops. There I no refrigerated truck, no cold storage given the high perishability of vegetables and fruits. Hence pot harvest loss reduction should be given priority attention

3. Inadequate action on SDG

SDG achievement is only left with 7 years. But the extent of its achievement globally is not appreciable and worse in some countries. SDG achievement could have contributed to transformation of the food system (SDG2, SDG5, SDG 12, SDG 15 etc) can significantly  improve the food system

4. Huge price increase

Several factors may contribute to high price increase that is not affordable to buyers/consumers

  • The global Market
  • Conflict
  • Travel restriction to bring food from the producer to consumers
  • The middle men/Broker distorting the demand and supply chain 

As a result of the above marginalized group employ negative copping mechanism which affects their health and the environment they live in 

5. Lack of agricultural inputs  and insufficient action to promote Urban Agriculture

  • Unavailability of seed, fertilizer and agro chemical in sufficient quantity and at an affordable price force farmer to plant without the mentioned input resulting lo production decrease while farmer could have produced greater quantities with the application of required input
  • Lack of improved breeds in the livestock sector (cattle, shoats, poultry breeds)
  • Urban agriculture could contribute to food availability and reduction of solid ate by recycling them into fertilizer enhancing circular economy

6. Inadequate capacity of farmer organization (Cooperative, union) to promote technology and protect the interest of the constituency

7. Insufficient use of Solar, biogas energy to minimize deforestation despite available potential

Natalie Wright

New York City Mayor's Office of Food Policy
Estados Unidos de América

   Ms Natalie Wright, on behalf of the New York City Mayors Office of Food Policy, has participated in the SOFA call via the AI-based application. She is kindly sharing her submission with other participants.   

         "question": "Have you had the chance to review any materials related to SOFA 2023? Considering that SOFA 2024 aims to delve into the application of true cost accounting (TCA) through case studies, with the aim of advancing agrifood systems toward sustainability, do you have any recommendations to enrich the upcoming report?",

        "answer": "Having thoroughly reviewed materials related to SOFA 2023, we are poised to contribute valuable insights to the upcoming SOFA 2024 report, which focuses on the application of True Cost Accounting (TCA) through case studies to propel agrifood systems toward sustainability. Our recommendations center on emphasizing local economic impact, highlighting community engagement, exploring health and nutrition in urban contexts, and providing policy integration recommendations.\n\n The Total Cost of Action (TCA) approach in NYC has been intricately tailored to diverse policymaking contexts, positioning it as a strategic model for advancing sustainable agrifood systems. A key facet of this approach is the significant investment in food purchases from New York State (NYS) businesses, especially those owned by minorities and women. This deliberate emphasis underscores our commitment to socio-economic inclusivity and regional economic growth.\n\n This tailored approach is rooted in a nuanced understanding of the local context, extending beyond immediate costs to highlight broader societal benefits. For instance, the focus on compliance with NYC's food standards reveals a tailored strategy that not only addresses healthcare costs but also actively promotes public health. This holistic and locally contextualized application of TCA stands as a noteworthy model, showcasing its potential to serve as a blueprint for advancing sustainability in agrifood systems.\n\n As we look ahead to SOFA 2024, our recommendations are geared towards further enriching the discourse on TCA by emphasizing local economic impact, promoting community engagement, exploring health and nutrition aspects in urban settings, and providing policy integration insights that substantively contribute to the collective understanding of sustainable agrifood systems."   

        "question": "For the purpose of contributing to the content of SOFA 2024, are you aware of any relevant studies assessing hidden costs or benefits within agrifood systems? If so, could you please provide the title of the study, the author(s) and hyperlink(s) to any relevant documentation. ",

        "answer": "NYC’s Good Food Purchasing highlights various hidden cost dimensions, providing a comprehensive view of the impacts of NYC's food procurement strategies. Environmental costs are highlighted through the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions (242K tons of CO2e), showcasing the ecological consequences of food purchases. The socio-economic dimension is addressed by detailing the significant investment in local businesses, especially those owned by minorities and women. Moreover, the emphasis on compliance with food standards directly targets healthcare costs, acknowledging the hidden expenses associated with chronic diseases. More on NYC's Good Food Purchasing can be found here: https://www.nyc.gov/site/foodpolicy/good-food-purchasing/good-food-purc…"    

        "question": "Can you provide a brief overview of the study, including a description of the agrifood system(s) or component(s) that were the focus of the assessment?",

        "answer": "The case study employs a multidimensional analysis by considering environmental, socio-economic, and health aspects of hidden costs. It recognizes that hidden costs are interconnected and affect various facets of society. The emphasis on local business support simultaneously addresses socio-economic and environmental dimensions, showcasing a holistic understanding of the agrifood system's impact. The compliance with food standards underscores the intersectionality of health, social well-being, and economic considerations, contributing to a more nuanced analysis. "     

        "question": "Could you describe the specific hidden costs and benefits associated with the agrifood system(s) or component(s) assessed? ",

        "answer": "NYC’s Good Food Purchasing highlights various hidden cost dimensions, providing a comprehensive view of the impacts of NYC's food procurement strategies. Environmental costs are highlighted through the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions (242K tons of CO2e), showcasing the ecological consequences of food purchases. The socio-economic dimension is addressed by detailing the significant investment in local businesses, especially those owned by minorities and women. Moreover, the emphasis on compliance with food standards directly targets healthcare costs, acknowledging the hidden expenses associated with chronic diseases. "   

        "question": "Why was the assessment necessary to uncover and address these hidden costs?",

        "answer": "The assessment was crucial to unveil and address hidden costs associated with NYC's food procurement strategies for several reasons. NYC's Good Food Purchasing initiative revealed various dimensions of hidden costs, providing a comprehensive understanding of the impacts: 1) Environmental consequences: the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions (242K tons of CO2e) was a critical revelation. This information highlighted the ecological footprint of NYC's food purchases, underscoring the need to address environmental costs associated with the city's procurement strategies. This insight is invaluable for making informed decisions and implementing sustainable practices that mitigate environmental impacts. 2)Socio-economic impact: detailing the significant investment in local businesses, particularly those owned by minorities and women, uncovered hidden socio-economic benefits. This information emphasizes the positive impact of procurement strategies on local economies, contributing to inclusivity and regional economic growth. Understanding these socio-economic dimensions is essential for fostering equitable and sustainable economic development. 3) Healthcare cost awareness: the emphasis on compliance with food standards directly targeted healthcare costs. By acknowledging the hidden expenses linked to chronic diseases, the assessment brought attention to the long-term health implications of food procurement choices. This insight is crucial for developing strategies that not only adhere to health standards but also contribute to overall public health, thereby reducing healthcare-related hidden costs. The assessment was necessary to bring to light the multifaceted hidden costs—environmental, socio-economic, and healthcare-related—associated with NYC's food procurement. Uncovering these dimensions is fundamental for making informed decisions, implementing sustainable practices, and fostering a holistic understanding of the broader impacts of food procurement strategies on the city and its residents."    

        "question": "Could you please tell us when the assessment took place and which years were considered in the analysis? ",

        "answer": "In 2022, Mayor Adams signed Executive Order 8, which formally established the Good Food Purchasing (GFP) program and requires vendors to share data, including origin details, on the food and meals they supply to the City of New York. The Mayor’s Office of Food Policy (MOFP) is committed to publishing this data annually. The GFP dashboard shows city food purchasing data, and the corresponding GFP value metrics, for all participating agencies beginning in fiscal year 2019."    

        "question": "Can you provide a concise description of the methodology employed to uncover hidden costs and benefits?",

        "answer": "The methodology employed to uncover hidden costs and benefits in NYC's Good Food Purchasing initiative involves a comprehensive and transparent approach, relying on self-reported compliance data. Key data points from FY22 illustrate the dimensions of hidden costs and benefits: Environmental costs were unveiled by disclosing greenhouse gas emissions (242K tons of CO2e) associated with NYC agencies' food purchases. This involved a meticulous assessment of the carbon footprint linked to procurement strategies; Hidden socio-economic benefits were revealed through a thorough analysis of self-reported data on food purchases. In FY22, NYC spent $122.8M on food purchases from New York State (NYS) businesses, with $11M benefiting NY minority and women-owned businesses. This data reflects a direct positive impact on local economies, particularly among underrepresented business owners; Healthcare-related hidden costs were addressed by emphasizing compliance with NYC's food standards. In FY22, compliance stood at an impressive 95%. This not only showcases a commitment to high food standards but also represents a strategic investment in providing access to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins. The goal is to combat healthcare costs associated with chronic diseases, contributing to a holistic understanding of the long-term health implications of food procurement choices. By relying on self-reported compliance data and integrating key financial and environmental metrics, the methodology ensures transparency and a robust evaluation of hidden costs and benefits associated with NYC's food procurement strategies."     

        "question": "Was the assessment complemented by additional methodologies, such as quantitative or qualitative policy or scenario analysis? Did these supplementary methods deliver interesting results? ",

        "answer": "NYC's Good Food Purchasing initiative employed a multifaceted methodology to uncover hidden costs and benefits. The approach integrated quantitative and qualitative analyses, policy assessments, and scenario planning. Financial metrics revealed a substantial investment in local businesses ($122.8M, including $11M for minorities and women), while environmental metrics disclosed 242K tons of CO2e from food purchases. A high compliance rate of 95% with NYC's food standards quantified adherence to health standards. Socio-economic impacts were qualitatively assessed, emphasizing support for local businesses, especially those owned by minorities and women. Community engagement initiatives were evaluated for their qualitative contributions to social benefits and community empowerment. The assessment included a policy analysis, showcasing how TCA findings inform local policymaking."     

        "question": "Please describe the data used in the assessment, including their source and nature. Additionally, if there were challenges related to the data availability, kindly elaborate on those challenges.",

        "answer": "Due to the complex nature of the City's procurement system and the broader food system the City operates in understanding precisely where our food comes from is challenging. For that reason, the data we are able to analyze does not capture the City's total food spend. However, we are continuously working with our vendors to improve data collection. "    

        "question": "Could you please highlight the key findings of this assessment? Were there any effective practices or methods that you found particularly valuable?",

        "answer": "The case study reveals crucial insights into local business support, environmental impact, and health outcomes. It highlights effective practices in transparent reporting and a holistic assessment framework. These findings significantly enhance our understanding of hidden costs in agrifood systems and set a precedent for robust methodologies in future assessments. By providing detailed data on food purchases, including significant spending on local businesses, particularly those owned by minorities and women, the case study validates the socio-economic impact of such actions. This expenditure directly contributes to local economies, emphasizing the hidden benefits of supporting regional agriculture. Additionally, the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from food purchases underscores the environmental costs associated with the agrifood system. "    

        "question": "What were the specific effective practices or methods that the assessment highlighted?",

        "answer": "he case study emphasized the importance of transparent reporting. By providing detailed data on food purchases, including significant spending on local businesses, the assessment ensured openness and clarity. Transparent reporting is a critical practice that enhances accountability and allows stakeholders to comprehend the true impacts of agrifood systems. Additionally, the case study employed a holistic assessment framework that considered various dimensions, including local business support, environmental impact, and health outcomes. This comprehensive approach allows for a nuanced understanding of the interconnected nature of hidden costs in agrifood systems. A holistic framework provides a more accurate representation of the system's impact on socio-economic, environmental, and health aspects. These practices contribute to a more nuanced understanding of hidden costs and serve as valuable models for future assessments in agrifood systems."   

        "question": "Did the assessment provide information relevant to policymakers or other stakeholders? For example, did it identify possible policy entry points to transform agrifood systems? If not, why?",

        "answer": "The assessments derived from NYC's food purchasing data have played a crucial role in informing decision-makers and stakeholders. The substantial spending on local businesses indicates a deliberate effort to make purchasing decisions that positively impact the local economy. The disclosed greenhouse gas emissions contribute to informed decision-making regarding the environmental impact of food procurement. Moreover, our commitment to compliance rates with NYC's food standards indicates a strategic investment in improving public health and addressing the hidden costs associated with healthcare expenses.  "    

        "question": "Drawing upon your experience, can you identify key factors that can facilitate or hinder the success of future similar assessments for transforming agrifood systems across different contexts?",

        "answer": "Ensuring the success of future assessments for transforming agrifood systems hinges on key factors. Firstly, comprehensive and reliable data, exemplified by NYC's detailed food purchasing information, is paramount. Future assessments should prioritize establishing robust data collection mechanisms to ensure accuracy. Additionally, tailoring assessment approaches to local contexts, mirroring NYC's TCA customization, is vital for success. Understanding the unique socio-economic, environmental, and health dynamics in each region is indispensable for effective transformation. Involving diverse stakeholders, including policymakers, local businesses, and communities, fosters buy-in and ensures an inclusive decision-making process. Conversely, resistance from existing systems, businesses, or communities can impede success. Anticipating and addressing potential resistance through effective communication and showcasing transformation benefits is crucial. Ignoring or underestimating the importance of understanding the local context may hinder success, emphasizing the need for assessments to consider the unique challenges and opportunities in each region for context-specific recommendations."     

        "question": "Were there any significant challenges encountered during the assessment process? Can you identify strategies or approaches to overcome these challenges?",

        "answer": "The challenges encountered during the assessment mirrored those related to data limitations. Given the intricate nature of the City's procurement system and the broader food landscape it operates within, obtaining a precise understanding of the food's origin proved challenging. Consequently, the data available for analysis does not encompass the entirety of the City's food expenditure. Nevertheless, ongoing efforts are underway to collaborate with vendors and enhance data collection processes for a more comprehensive assessment."    

        "question": "Do you have any other information or comments on the use of true cost accounting assessments to uncover the hidden costs and benefits of agrifood systems that haven't been covered during this interview?",

        "answer": "NYC aligns with the preliminary assessment of hidden costs presented in SOFA 2023. By providing detailed data on food purchases, including significant spending on local businesses, particularly those owned by minorities and women, the case study validates the socio-economic impact of such actions. This expenditure directly contributes to local economies, emphasizing the hidden benefits of supporting regional agriculture. Additionally, the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from food purchases underscores the environmental costs associated with the agrifood system. NYC's commitment to transparent reporting mirrors SOFA's emphasis on understanding the full spectrum of hidden costs, ensuring alignment with broader sustainability objectives. The findings of the case study significantly contribute to the writing process of SOFA 2024. The emphasis on local business support, environmental impact, and health outcomes provides valuable insights into the relevance and diversity of NYC's approach to hidden costs. Geographically, the case study showcases the significance of local actions in a major urban center. Sectorally, it highlights the intersections between economic, environmental, and health sectors. Methodologically, the case study's use of concrete data and compliance rates sets a precedent for robust assessment frameworks, emphasizing the importance of transparent reporting and data-driven decision-making. "

29 January 2024 - SUBMISSION FROM THE FAIRR INITIATIVE 

On behalf of the FAIRR Initiative, a $70 trillion investor network focused on ESG risks and opportunities in the global food system, we are delighted to respond to this consultation.  

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has in its 2023 flagship report, “The State of Food and Agriculture” (SOFA2023), produced a valuable resource towards food systems transformation. With our focus on the material costs and opportunities of food systems, FAIRR is generally in support of the report’s objectives and content and welcomes the FAO’s plans to build on this work.  

FAIRR sees FAO’s work identifying, quantifying and working to address the hidden costs of the agrifood system as sitting alongside - and having the potential to provide valuable input into - another multi-year top tier FAO food system initiative, the three-year roadmap effort, Achieving SDG 2 without breaching the 1.5 °C threshold: A global roadmap.”  

The FAO roadmap initiative was launched following a statement  signed by investors representing $18 trillion and coordinated by the FAIRR Initiative, which urged the FAO to produce a roadmap for a resilient sector that can deliver global food security while striving to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. 

FAIRR is pleased to see better recognition from the FAO of the need for food systems action to reduce the hidden costs of the agrifood system. Addressing environmentally harmful agricultural subsidies is a key step in the direction of reducing environmental harm caused across the food system as well as enable producers to take-up more sustainable practices. FAIRR members representing $7 trillion have issued an investor statement calling on G20 nations to reform harmful agricultural subsidies by 2030.  

In its June 2023 report, “Detox Development: Repurposing Environmentally Harmful Subsides,” the World Bank provides detail on the role subsidies play in contribution to environmental degradation. It notes that “Agriculture subsidies are responsible for the loss of 2.2 million hectares of forest per year - or 14% of global deforestation.”   

FAIRR is fully supportive of efforts by the FAO to increase accuracy on hidden cost estimates in all categories, including hidden environmental costs which the FAO itself has indicated it believes to have been significantly under-counted in SOFA 2023. Efforts to build out a fuller picture of the environmental costs is critical for FAO and other policy discussions around food systems. 

Ultimately, the hidden costs, and benefits, of the global food system can affect investors in several ways. FAIRR’s investor members recognise the financially material risks to which the food system is exposed, from climate change, biodiversity loss, malnutrition, and antimicrobial resistance, as well as the material impacts the food systems activities have on the environment. 

FAIRR is available to discuss this submission with the FAO at a later date as well as engage on other topics from the SOFA report that have not been covered in this submission. 

Megan Waters

US Policy Advisor

 

Dear SOFA team,

We are happy to submit our contributions to the call. Please find our submissions attached.

On behalf of Impact Institute we would like to submit the following publications:

  • True price of Kenyan Coffee

For any inquiries do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,

Simone van Klaveren

Dear SOFA Editors and Facilitators, 

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute on this important topic. You can find an official contribution from Environmental Defense Fund, within the template format provided, attached here.

Please contact Willow Battista, Senior Manager of Climate Resilient Food Systems ([email protected]) for questions or follow-up.

Thank you.