Thursday, November 30, 2023

Global food producers commit to regenerative agriculture framework

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More than 170 big guns in food production sign up to programme of large-scale, long-term systemic change.
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A network of agricultural companies and food producers has committed to a new global framework for regenerative agriculture practices.

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform), a non-profit network of over 170 members worldwide that includes Nestlé, Danone, Unilever, Cargill, Arla and others, launched the Regenerating Together global framework for regenerative agriculture this week. 

It signifies the first time the sector has agreed on a globally aligned approach for the transition to regenerative agriculture practices and aims to unite the food and beverage industry to bring about large-scale, long-term systemic change to future-proof global food supply.

SAI Platform member and founding member of the Regenerating Together programme Katharine Teague, group ESG director at ABF Sugar, called it “an exciting opportunity to drive outcomes and further build collaboration across the food and agriculture industry to make a more resilient, sustainable food system”.

“We are looking forward to a framework that delivers long-term impacts for our farmers and value chain. By coming together, we can find workable solutions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and reducing soil health,” she said.

Yves Leclerc, global director of agriculture sustainability at McCain and the steering committee chair of the Regenerating Together programme, said: “We urgently need to transition towards a more regenerative food system – for our people and our planet. 

“As chair of the Regenerating Together Steering Committee, I am delighted that the framework launched today will enable farmers to take action and implement regenerative practices, and crucially support the measurement and verification of progress.

“Having piloted the resources with our growers, I see the potential this can have to provide clarity and consistency on what regenerative agriculture means and the outcomes we are looking to achieve. The potential impact is huge and the development of this global framework through cross-industry collaboration is a key step towards scaling the transition to more sustainable farming practices.”

In collaboration with farmers, academia, NGOs and platform parters, an aligned approach to agriculture has been established that aims to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change, improve soil health, support biodiversity, retain water in the soil and reduce its consumption while keeping farmers’ business viability central in a just transition approach. 

SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together programme aims to unite the agriculture industry with a common goal – a resilient and productive food system that will regenerate natural ecosystems and improve the quality of farmers’ livelihoods.

Eric Soubeiran, vice-president business operations sustainability at Unilever, said the programme has grown from the industry recognising it must evolve its approach to sustainable agriculture, to an agreement that “we need to drive measurable outcomes to create a resilient food supply chain”. 

“As individual organisations, we have set targets to implement regenerative agricultural practices, but this new framework brings leaders together to work towards one common commitment. We believe this framework sets a new standard for regenerative agriculture globally, whilst providing the flexibility that’s needed at farm level.”

SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together framework is designed for practical use at farm level to drive farmers’ transition to regenerative agriculture. 

It will allow crops, dairy and beef farmers anywhere in the world to work with supply chain partners to achieve measurable regenerative agriculture outcomes and enables the industry to translate the often-ambiguous concepts of regenerative agriculture into action at farm level. 

In addition, the framework will be integrated into SAI Platform’s existing industry solutions including the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS), the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) and the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP).

The framework will assess, monitor and verify farm practices to aid the global transition towards regenerative agriculture.  

The Regenerating Together programme identifies four key areas of impact – water, soil, biodiversity and climate – and has devised four clear steps through which to enact the framework: risk screening assessment, outcome selection, the adoption of principles and practices and the monitoring and assessment of progress.

Jo Lawrence, senior manager agriculture sustainability global concepts at Arla Foods, and a founding member of Regenerating Together, said: “Our farmer owners are experts for their farm in many aspects regarding soil, water and biodiversity and many are already practising regenerative farming practices within their individual context. 

“What they need from us and the wider industry to accelerate their efforts is an agreed-upon science-based framework for regenerative farming as a concept and a way to measure the direct impact and that is exactly what the Regenerating Together programme offers.”

Founding member of SAI Platform and the Regenerating Together programme Antonia Wanner, group head of ESG strategy and deployment at Nestlé, said: “The Regeneration Together framework is the result of strong collaboration between the food and beverage industry and farmer co-operatives. 

“It delivers clear industry alignment on the definition of regenerative agriculture and its principles, and how to measure its outcomes. In essence, it’s a pragmatic tool that can help farmers transition to regenerative agriculture and will help the industry to scale up its efforts. We’re pleased to contribute to this framework alongside other partners and we look forward to continuing to work with SAI Platform and its members as we look to build more resilient agricultural systems over the long term.”

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