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Increase food production without expanding agricultural land;
Increase fish supply;
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from agricultural production; and
Protect and restore natural ecosystems.
This menu enables the world to close the gap between the food available today
and that needed by 2050, without clearing more land for farming and while
reducing the food system’s GHGs to a level aligned with the Paris Agreement.
Some items on the menu require more farmers to implement best practices that
already exist today. Others need consumers to change behavior, or governments
and businesses to reform policies.
The challenge is sufficiently large, however, that many solutions will require
technological innovations. Advancing them is a major theme of our report. Here
are 10 important examples:
Plant-based meat. Globally, per gram of edible protein, beef and lamb
around 20 times the land and generate around 20 times the GHGs of
plant-based proteins. Affordable plant-based products that mimic the
experience of eating beef could reduce growth in global beef consumption,
while still satisfying meat-lovers. Fortunately, companies such as
are already making headlines by creating plant-based “beef” that looks,
sizzles, tastes and even bleeds like the real thing.
Extended shelf lives. About one-third of food is lost or wasted between
the farm and the
Fruits and vegetables are a common food item wasted in more developed
markets. One breakthrough to address this is the emergence of inexpensive
methods that slow the ripening of produce; companies are already
investigating a variety of natural compounds to do so. For example, Apeel
Sciences has an array of extremely thin
spray-on films that inhibit bacterial growth and retain water in fruit.
Others include Nanology and
Bluapple, whose technologies delay decomposition.
Anti-gas for cows. About a third of all GHGs from agricultural
production (excluding land-use change) come from “enteric” methane, released
as cow “burps.” Several research groups and companies are working on feed
that suppress the formation of methane in cows’ stomachs.
DSM has a product called
3-NOP that reduces these methane emissions by 30 percent in tests, and
does not appear to have health or environmental side effects.
Compounds to keep nitrogen in the soil. About 20 percent of GHGs from
agricultural production are related to nitrogen from fertilizer and manure
on crops and pastures. The majority of these emissions come from the
formation of nitrous oxide, as microorganisms transfer nitrogen from one
chemical form to another. Compounds that prevent these changes, including
coatings on fertilizers and so-called “nitrification inhibitors,” can reduce
nitrogen losses and increase the amount of nitrogen taken up by plants,
leading to lower emissions and less water pollution from fertilizer runoff.
Without a regulatory push, research into such technologies has stagnated,
but great potential remains. Some new compounds have emerged in just the
Nitrogen-absorbing crops. Another way to chip away at nitrous oxide
emissions is to develop crop varieties that absorb more nitrogen and/or
inhibit nitrification. Researchers have identified traits to inhibit
nitrification in some varieties of all major grain crops, which others can
now build upon through crop breeding.
Low-methane rice. Around 15 percent of emissions from agricultural
production come from methane-producing microorganisms in rice paddies.
Researchers have identified some common rice varieties that emit less
methane than others, and they’ve bred one experimental strain that reduces
methane emissions by 30 percent in the laboratory. Despite this promise,
there is no consistent effort in any country to breed and encourage the
uptake of low-methane rice varieties.
Using CRISPR to boost yields. Two broad items on the menu for a
sustainable food future involve boosting yields on existing cropland, and
producing more milk and meat on existing grazing land. One way to boost crop
yields sustainably (without over-application of fertilizers or
over-extraction of irrigation water) is to unlock traits in crop genes that
technology, which enables more precise turning on and off of genes, has the
potential to be revolutionary in this regard.
High-yield oil palm. Dramatic growth in demand for palm
— an ingredient found in everything from shampoo to cookies — has been
driving deforestation in Southeast
for decades, and now threatens forests in Africa and Latin America.
One way to reduce this threat is to breed and plant oil palm trees with 2-4
times the production per hectare of conventional trees. Potential for
higher-yielding oil palm trees already exists: The company PT
Smart, for instance, has a variety with
triple the current average yield of Indonesia’s oil palm trees. These
high-yield varieties need to be used in new plantations and when farmers
restock current plantations with new trees (typically done every 20 or more
Algae-based fish feeds. Another element of a sustainable food future is
to reduce pressure on wild fish stocks. As the global fish catch has peaked,
or aquaculture, has grown to meet world fish demand. However, aquaculture
can increase pressure on the small, wild fish species used as feed
ingredients for larger, farmed fish. One technological innovation to
circumvent this challenge is to create substitute feeds using
or oilseeds that contain the omega-3 fatty acids found in wild fish-based
oils. Some companies are moving to produce algae-based aquaculture feeds,
and researchers have created a variety of canola that contains omega-3s.
Solar-powered fertilizers. The production of nitrogen-based fertilizers
uses vast quantities of fossil fuels and generates significant emissions,
roughly 85 percent of which result from the production of hydrogen to blend
with nitrogen. Many have invested in solar energy to produce hydrogen for
fuel-cell vehicles, but similar technologies can also help produce
low-carbon fertilizers. Pilot plants are under construction in
Rapidly deploying technology for a sustainable food future
Despite their potential, none of these measures are moving forward at adequate
speed and scale. Research funding for agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation is
miniscule and needs to be increased, in part by making better use of the $600
billion in existing public support each year for agriculture globally.
In addition, although many of the technologies above have the potential to save
money even in the near term, many cost more than their conventional counterparts
today. Increasing their uptake will require not only more public research funds,
but also flexible regulations that give private companies stronger incentives to
innovate. For example, in areas where technologies are underdeveloped — such as
compounds that reduce enteric methane — governments could commit to requiring
the use of these compounds if a product achieves a certain level of
cost-effectiveness in mitigation (such as $25 per ton of carbon dioxide
equivalent). As another example, governments could require fertilizer companies
to increasingly blend in compounds that reduce nitrogen loss.
The good news is, for virtually every type of advancement needed in the food
system, small groups of scientists with limited budgets have already identified
promising opportunities. Today’s plant-based burgers that taste like real beef
were developed and brought to market in fewer than 10 years.
Feeding a growing world population in the face of climate change and resource
constraints is an enormous challenge. The technological innovations listed above
aren’t the only ones the food system needs — and of course, we won’t solve the
challenge through technology alone. However, just as in other sectors, such as
energy and transport, technological innovation is an essential ingredient of a
San Francisco, California-based regenerative food tech company
Treasure8 is seeking funds to help propel it on
its mission — to revolutionize how food is managed along supply chains, and
address the global challenges of food waste, nutrition and climate
change along the way.
“The world is waking up to the fact that we’re cooking ourselves — there is a
need for solutions that are not some incremental growth, year after year; they
need to come right out the gate as a revolutionary, step-change function,”
Timothy Childs, Treasure8’s CEO, told Sustainable Brands in a recent
Childs — who previously founded Berkeley, Calif.-based conscious chocolate
company TCHO Chocolate in 2006 — founded Treasure8 more
than six years ago, though it has only recently gone public with what the team
believes is a game-changing model. At the center is Treasure8’s core technology
— a patented dehydration tool, built in cooperation with the USDA and UC
Davis, that they call the Sauna, which
can fully dehydrate fruits and vegetables without stripping them of nutrients,
using far less energy than existing technologies. It also, as I verified during
a visit to the company’s facility on Treasure Island, produces far superior
dried snacks than what you’ll currently find on shelves across the US.
Food waste has been a key issue for those in the agricultural industry for some
time now, since it was first recognized as an issue earlier this decade. The
figures are staggering: According
to the Food and
Agriculture Organization, 1.3 billion metric tons of food is wasted globally
each year. Here in the United States, an estimated 26 percent of all food
produced is wasted. Moreover, if food waste were a country, it would be the
in the world after China and the US, due to methane emissions produced from
food in landfills and transportation emissions from wasted food.
Treasure8’s approach to making a dent in the issue is sourcing what would
otherwise be wasted produce from production facilities, for redemption as
nutritious, dehydrated food snacks — along with an array of other
products, including pet food,
nutraceuticals and biofuel.
“There is a major problem, and we need to do everything in our power to continue
to work as hard as we can to make an impact, and make a difference,” Childs
said. “We’ve been working on a systemic, end-to-end approach that can scale
globally and can make a significant impact in a short time.”
The good news is that the food waste issue has gone mainstream, and Treasure 8
is just one of many startups and nonprofits working in this area. Others focus
on a specific sector — for example, companies such as Imperfect
works solely with farmers who can’t sell ugly-looking fruits and vegetables,
while Olio has developed an app that connects scavengers
with bakeries, restaurants or grocery stores that have unsold, soon-to-spoil
While those efforts are making real, meaningful impacts, tackling the scale of
the global food waste problem and its impact on the climate means we need
radical transformation of how the global food production and distribution system
is run. That’s where Treasure 8 aims to make a difference.
“It’s not like we’re taking some leftover waste from a restaurant and making a
pie that day,” Childs said. “We’re doing something that’s gotta have buy-in from
output sources, and buy-in from the input sources that works through the
The true potential of Treasure 8 lies not in the crispiness of the apple and
beet chips that its dryers produce, but its ability to scale rapidly. Its
systems are energy-efficient, compact and can be adapted for a wide variety of
supply chains. They also can produce uniform outputs, something that is critical
for really shifting the global food system, which relies on stable sources and
reliable, quality products.
Treasure8 also believes it can have a positive impact for nutrition — another
global challenge. Because its technology allows for a higher percentage of
nutrients to remain within food during the drying process, it could be used to
produce healthy products. Its trial
products reflect this: Ground Rules
Chips — organic, one-ingredient fruit and vegetable chips; and the vegan One
Smart Cookie — which includes 25 percent veggies by volume. Both, of course,
use food waste as key ingredients.
Currently, Treasure 8 is seeking funding to expand its model and beginning to
work with more companies to use its technology to reduce food waste; its goal is
not to grow to sell lots of products, but to co-manufacture CPG products or
ingredients, or spin them off as separate entities — also potentially licensing
or leasing the Sauna technology to other companies. Getting to the level where
the company can make a real dent in reducing food waste will be a challenge, one
that the company is ready for.
“I love this company and how it is, and the promise of what it can do continues
to unfold every day,” Childs said. Still, he sees the real test coming with how
the company scales. “Are our systems global yet? No. Until that is rolling on
every major continent, and without me having to do a lot of the lift, I’m not
going to be satisfied, frankly.”
Eight million metric tons of
enter our oceans each year, and countless studies on its impact and unsettling
images are spurring consumers and NGOs to push for action. As a result,
businesses and governments worldwide have implemented bans on single-use plastic
items, such as
and bags. But do bans actually address the plastic pollution issue?
Unfortunately, no — as an industry we need to do more.
While plastic has many valuable uses we rely on — from creating medical
and safety helmets to food packaging that prevents waste — there are occasions
are more effective for the job in hand. So, how do we strike a balance? How do
we combat the rise in plastic waste without taking plastic products away from
those who need them most for everyday living? We can and should focus on driving
a circular economy — by recycling our plastic waste and innovating to repurpose
and reuse it.
Driving a circular economy
We currently live in a primarily linear economy, where the goods we use every
day are manufactured, sold, used and then discarded as waste. To move away from
this wastefulness, we need to transition to an economy that redesigns, recycles,
reuses and remanufactures to keep materials at their highest-value use for as
long as possible, and out of our oceans.
The good news is, industry is already taking steps to advance a circular economy
globally by developing innovative technologies to improve recyclability and
designing in reusability and recycled content into products, while building the
required to responsibly manage waste where it is needed most.
For example, Dow and other companies
continue to evaluate advanced technologies such as feedstock recycling — which,
if successful, will enable more waste to be recycled and ultimately enable
plastics to be recycled back to its basic
This capability would reduce the need for additional fossil fuel extraction by
using waste plastics as a feedstock.
Innovation in action
As part of Dow’s 2025 sustainability
I’m proud that we are doing our part by developing initiatives that convert
plastic waste into next-generation building materials, including plastic
schools. We are partnering with Colombian nonprofit Conceptos
Plásticos to build schools in Colombia
using bricks made of plastic waste — to date, we have built three schools using
12 tons of plastic waste, and plan to build 15 by the end of 2019. We also
started the Hefty®
recovery initiative which collects hard-to-recycle plastics and converts them
into valuable resources. By 2018, we’d collected more than 176,500 bags and
diverted more than 115 tons of plastics from landfills, equivalent to roughly 92
million snack-sized chip bags.
Beyond Dow, companies, innovators and entrepreneurs are taking significant
action to explore opportunities to repurpose, reimagine and redefine how we use
and dispose of plastic. Here are three notable examples:
unveiled earlier this year, is developing circular solutions for
hard-to-recycle materials and is the first of its kind to offer hundreds of
name-brand products in reusable and refillable packaging. UPS will deliver
the products in reusable shipping bags and transport the bags to a cleaning
facility once done, where they will be sanitized and recycled. In addition
to founding investors Procter &
Nestlé, major global brands
such as PepsiCo,
Unilever and The Body
are among the initial partners that have designed new packaging for Loop.
Circulate Capital is an impact-focused
investment management firm dedicated to financing innovation, companies and
that prevent the flow of plastic waste into the world's oceans while
advancing the circular economy. In late 2018, it announced over US$100
million in expected funding to combat ocean plastic from major brands,
including PepsiCo, P&G, Dow,
Danone, Unilever and The
Norwegian startup Empower uses a blockchain-enabled
system to encourage customers to reduce plastic pollution. Through
technology, the company records the waste brought to collection centers to
reward those who bring it in — for every batch of plastic donated, the
person is rewarded $1. Founder Wilhelm Myrer believes that the system —
which is based on the philosophy and success of the Norwegian plastic bottle
deposit system — can be used in the industrialized world, but will be
particularly effective in emerging markets, where he says tokenized rewards
can be a catalyst for engagement.
What these three examples highlight, along with Dow’s own efforts, is that
innovative solutions to reduce plastic waste come in all shapes and sizes, but
they all have one consistent goal. The plastic waste issue has attracted
significant global attention as major brands from around the world are investing
their time and resources into finding solutions.
Looking ahead, I anticipate that, as researchers continue to unveil the extent
of plastic litter, we will see a rise in the number of new technologies and
innovations. As an industry, we need to welcome new ideas and collaboration to
continue to create solutions that make a greater impact in reducing the plastic
waste infiltrating our oceans. It will take all of us — business, government,
industry and NGOs — to create solutions and work together to solve one of
today’s biggest environmental crises.
The Zika virus that ravaged its way through South America, and up into
parts of Florida and Texas, in 2016 had a devastating social and
economic impact. The virus was linked to birth defects in thousands of Brazilian
newborns, whose mothers were infected while pregnant.
World Health Organization estimates suggest up to four million people were
infected in Latin America and the Caribbean by early 2017. Other figures
argue that up to 117 million
including 1.5 million pregnant women, worldwide were infected by the
According to the United Nations, the epidemic saw nations incurring huge
direct and indirect costs of up to US$18 billion over three
tor those suffering the resultant microcephaly and Guillain-Barré
syndrome, the cost will be, of course, far greater — children born with
microcephaly face a 20 percent probability of dying in their first year, with a
life expectancy of just 35 years beyond their first 12 months.
Zika is not alone in striking fear across nations and controlling the spread of
disease can cost a fortune. In Asia, as much as US$307 million year is
spent on controlling vector-borne disease. In South America, close to US$1
billion dollars is spent controlling Zika and Dengue.
Such statistics drove data scientist Dhesi Raja and his computer engineer
co-founder, Rainier Mallol, to develop a solution that would drastically
change the way countries and their health practitioners deal with deadly
outbreaks of disease.
The two met during their graduate studies at NASA in California. They both
obtained a scholarship with Google for a graduate studies program, during
which they came up with the idea of revolutionizing public health and
disease-control using artificial intelligence.
“Existing work related to the control of infectious diseases is passive and
reactive — and the analysis of outbreak data is currently relying on statistical
methods,” Mallol says.
He explains that available Zika and Dengue data are limited to time, location
and accumulated cases. Other important details — such as weather, population
density, elevation, vegetation and geographical variables that could be crucial
to disease outbreak — are just not monitored or predicted in a dynamic or
"While we have a number of vector control tools available in combatting Zika and
Dengue, their effective deployment relies on accurately interpreting available
data to identify the exact spot where and when such activity should take place,”
he says. “Such interpretation is heavily skill-dependent — and that made us
realize that there is a need to develop a smart machine, driven by artificial
intelligence to help predict and control deadly outbreaks.”
The result of their work is the AIME (Artificial
Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology) platform, a medtech app that is able to
predict when and where such diseases will hit, up to three months in advance —
in fact, it can geo-locate them to within a 400-metre radius with an accuracy of
86.37 percent, in real time.
AIME’s initial Dengue Outbreak Prediction platform is the result of
two-and-a-half years of epidemiological research, and a few months of
machine-learning analysis. The solution incorporates a huge amount of
epidemiology, weather and geographical data — as well as data on vegetation,
population density and previous outbreaks — and mixes it with machine-learning
capabilities in order to predict, geo-locate and determine future outbreaks.
In effect, AIME optimizes data-driven decision-making within public health
organisations. This is especially effective in poorer and more remote areas,
where expertise for epidemiology data interpretation is limited, at best. The
technology is said to cut the time it takes for health personnel to analyse data
by 65 percent.
It is still early days for the technology being widely used, but the company
assisted Brazilian NGO VivaRio during the
2016 Rio Olympics to highlight potential Zika and Dengue hotspots; and it
has also been deployed in the state of Penang, Malaysia, where since early
2018, cases of Dengue have fallen by 42 percent.
“With our platform, we can aid in the prevention of diseases, with the ultimate
goal of removing the chance of epidemics and eliminating viruses,” Mallol adds.
“Predicting Dengue is just our first step. Eventually, we will expand to other
epidemic diseases such as Tuberculosis, Malaria and even HIV/AIDS.
“We are not sure if our action will save lives, but we are certainly sure
This week, Taylor & Francis — one of the world’s largest academic publishers — introduced its new Sustainable Development Goals Online platform. The site features an online library of over 12,000 articles and chapters — covering some of the world’s biggest ongoing challenges, corresponding to the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — as well as a selection of materials to help lecturers teach sustainability and enhance students’ satisfaction with their institutions.
This new venture from the UK-based publishing giant provides a platform in which to engage higher education students, their tutors and university researchers in learning about and addressing the issues set out in the SDGs — which aim to eliminate issues including poverty, inequality, climate impacts and conflict; and improve access to quality education, clean water and energy, and decent work, to name a few.
Developed alongside various UN bodies, SDGO provides an interdisciplinary collection of digital content — including Taylor & Francis’ books and journals across all disciplines, themed around the SDGs — as well as teaching and learning materials, including presentations, videos, case studies, teaching guides and lesson plans. The aim of the new platform is to enable students and tutors to deliver the change they want throughout their careers and lives. According to a global survey of 1,800 recent university graduates, 96 percent expect to be involved in sustainability in some way during their careers. 70 percent of respondents also believe that sustainability should be covered by their university course. Those students believe their university should teach them how to apply the principles of sustainability in their careers, equipping them to be effective advocates for the changes that they know needs to happen throughout their lifetime — and they are putting pressure on universities to meet their expectations.
This pressure means that the momentum for sustainable education is building across the world.
While business momentum behind the SDGs has been largely steady, with a steady stream of tools and platforms emerging to help companies meet goals aligned with the Goals, efforts to engage tomorrow's business leaders have only really emerged recently — a series of episodes of "Thomas the Tank Engine," which began in 2018; and Sekisui Chemical's SDGs Academy, launched earlier this year, are media outlets introducing the idea to children. Harnessing the energy and brainpower of the student population behind the SDGs, Taylor & Francis is looking to help build the next generation of leaders who have sustainable development hard-wired into their sensibilities, with its launch of SDGO.
“Both students and funding bodies are setting the bar on sustainable development for universities ever higher,” said Annie Callanan, CEO of Taylor & Francis. “Part of our response at Taylor & Francis is SDGO, a platform that will give academics across disciplines access to the knowledge and materials which will help them provide the teaching their students believe they need to succeed. And it will give their students the ability to provide their best positive contribution to sustainable development.”
The SDGs were launched by the UN in 2015, as a 17-point, 15-year, multitrillion-dollar call to arms for the world’s nations to fix global problems. Though some notable progress has been made, the SDGs risk being stalled or derailed by populist political agenda issues. Jonas Haertle — from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Switzerland — says that “to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the coming years, we need forward-thinking and responsible leadership, underpinned with education and research.” He adds: “The SDGO collection from Taylor & Francis is a significant contribution to that underpinning. Now, more than ever, we need to take action to ensure a truly sustainable future for all.”
Business as a force for good is not a “nice concept” for “good brands” — it’s a
necessary shift if we are going to save our planet. If this altruistic fact
isn’t enough to convince you to start taking action, consider your bottom line:
This is what consumers (otherwise known as people) are calling for.
“If you don’t make this change, consumers will insist you do. Look at the
streets of London in the last month. People are beginning to see where the
problems lie, and soon they will see you.”
Two years ago, I left my job and founded The
Humblebrag, with the mandate to support and
amplify the voices of change-makers. I wanted to support companies to understand
why they should take a bold stance on societal issues, and support business
leaders to amplify their voice.
The business case for doing good
Speaking to a room full of creatives in 2017.
As I’ve moved away from my niche — and found myself in bigger and bigger
boardrooms — I’ve been called on to fight harder to prove the business case for
purpose. To appeal to the skeptics (of which, surprisingly, there are still
many), I usually outline insights such as:
“Nearly two-thirds of consumers globally now ‘buy on belief,’ meaning they
will ‘choose, switch to, or boycott’ a brand based on its stand on societal
issues” (Edelman’s 2018 Earned Brand
But this line of reasoning is no longer enough. More than “young people care
about this planet, and form their opinions about your brand based on your
actions and views,” the time has come to be bolder and braver, and call it as it
is. As Extinction Rebellion state in their letter to the advertising industry:
“You have an extraordinary moment to be on the right side of history. That’s
not something that can get postponed to Q3. It needs action right now."
More than committing us to not working on any fossil fuel briefs — and disclose
income based on industry and high-carbon clients — it sends a message to all,
and this industry in particular, that we too declare a climate crisis and
commit our creativity to this
This is not the time to brag — it’s the time to be humble. Collective action is
what we need to spur meaningful change, and this means joining forces. It means
supporting already established movements such as B
Corp, and joining initiatives such as
#CreativesforClimate and signing this commitment.
The role of the private sector
Business as a force for good is not a “nice concept” for “good brands”; it’s the
responsibility of the private sector. People often mutter that governments and
civil society should be “doing more” — having worked in NGOs and then deep in
the world of sustainability, I’ve seen firsthand the limits of both to drive
Money is power, and the private sector is an incredibly powerful force that has
to take responsibility if we are going to tackle this challenge. As Xavier Rees,
CEO of Havas London — the first advertising agency to become a certified B
Corp — told
“Quite frankly, this is about businesses taking responsibility for what they do
and who they are. Yes, governments have a key role to play in improving society,
but so too does the private sector.”
Declaring an emergency
Extinction Rebellion have made it clear that one-off initiatives, CSR, pro-bono
work or planting trees is not going to be enough. The letter reads:
“No, making a small campaign to give up drinking from plastic
is not going to cut it. Neither is doing some pro-bono for an anti-palm oil
initiative. Here’s the thing you can do: Declare a climate & ecological
emergency and act accordingly. Persuade your clients and their audiences to do
In the few days since the Creative Climate Disclosure has been signed, criticism
has already mounted saying ‘it’s not good enough.’ Ed Gillespie, author of
called it “baby steps” and wrote in The
that “we need to go further and confront our obsession with economic growth.”
And he’s not wrong.
A report from the IPCC has already confirmed humanity's probable
failure to stop warming short of the 1.5 degree
Celsius threshold. A report from
outlines that one million species are on track to go extinct due to human-caused
environmental degradation. And still more new
predicts that by 2050, London will have a climate similar to that of
Barcelona today, Seattle will feel like San Francisco, and
Madrid will feel like Marrakech.
While it may only be “baby steps,” we need more actors to join us in taking
them. Because, as Gillespie points out, “Business as usual is not an option;
it’s a collective death sentence.”
The innovation co-led by Dr Tomaso Ceccarelli of Wageningen Environmental
Research and Dr Elias Eyasu Fantahun of Addis Ababa University in
Ethiopia will transform productivity and drastically improve the livelihoods
of smallholder farmers in food-insecure areas across the country. I spoke with
them to learn more.
In a nutshell, what is the innovation?
Innovation Mapping for Food
or IM4FS, is a landscape mapping approach that will combine data and
information from local stakeholders to recommend ‘best-fit’ combinations of
crops, farming practices and conditions. Farmers can then implement these
changes, with support from local planners or extension workers, to help them
reach their full yield potential and boost food security in the region.
IM4FS builds on the strength of the CASCAPE
project — which combines data, GIS
mapping and stakeholder engagement for improved agricultural productivity. IM4FS
takes all of this but enhances it with a
functionality vital for addressing food-insecure areas. This brings a more
dynamic and interactive tool to provide simulations and aid stakeholder
Does anything like IM4FS already exist?
We believe that both CASCAPE and IM4FS are unique. If you consider the existing
approaches to land evaluation, they do not typically introduce stakeholder
engagement at various stages to inform and validate the proposed actions. This
information gathered from farmers, extension workers and other local experts —
on current conditions, challenges and expectations — is combined with social,
economic and environmental data and fed into the GIS-based tool to produce the
The mapping model is also unique because it is dynamic. Through the IM4FS user
interface, the best-fit recommendations can respond to the specific information
or questions fed into it, making it a valuable scenario-planning tool for these
stakeholders. They can simulate which interventions should be done in which
regions, and how — for instance, where the most suitable areas and conditions
exist in the country to introduce malt
and the necessary fertilizer or infrastructure requirements.
Image credit: Olam
Plugging Ethiopia’s ‘yield gap’ is the rationale behind this agricultural innovation — can you tell us more?
Ethiopia has the potential to be self-sufficient, but because of various
constraints —especially poor farming practices, low-quality seeds, pest and
disease, and inefficiencies — productivity is poor and the country relies
heavily on food imports. This is absurd when you think the country is the
second-largest in Africa for arable land and has the potential to be
What is promising is the Ethiopian government’s target to double productivity,
but its policies apply to the whole country. The huge diversity — climate,
geological and social — means that change needs to happen at the regional level.
For example, a farming practice that works for one farmer may not work for
another; and a certain crop variety that’s suited to a particular location won’t
grow in different soil conditions elsewhere. This is where we come in — with a
solution involving local stakeholders to shape specific agricultural innovations
for a given area.
What does this mean for the smallholders who need to implement these new crop varieties and practices?
Improving food security means making sure it’s available at household level. We
are targeting this innovation in areas where millions of farmers rely on food
hand-outs, but with the right agricultural interventions, could be
Since we began the CASCAPE programme in 2016, this evidence-based approach to
applying best-fit combinations of crop and farming practices has tripled
wheat yields and doubled yields of
teff and faba
bean. For faba bean — an important and
often only protein source for these farmers — the increase is mainly because
we’ve been able to identify the need for and introduce more disease-resistant
For the 200,000 farmers currently involved in the programme, these increases
mean they can now grow sufficient food to feed their families and earn a
Image credit: Olam
How do you feel about winning the Prize?
This is the result of many years of hard work, and it gives us a great morale
boost to continue working with farmers who are struggling and help them reach
It is really motivating to work with local researchers and other parties to
develop smart solutions to tackle something as devastating as hunger. Now we
have the opportunity, thanks to the Olam Prize, to strengthen this link between
researchers and regional planners, so we can reach many more farmers with this
mapping in other food-insecure regions of the country.
What are your plans for the funding?
IM4FS will take these “best-fit practices” and scale them up in food-insecure
areas, making them work for many more farmers.
We’ll use the Prize to roll-out the mapping at a regional level, hosting
stakeholder workshops and in-situ data collection by extension workers and other
local staff. This will help strengthen engagement between our researchers,
planners and farmers. It will also fund the development of the GIS-based tool
behind IM4FS, to make it more dynamic so it can generate quantitative
information — like specific limitations (poor soil
access to inputs); the required measures to overcome these (fertilizers, rural
infrastructure); and expected volumes, once the correct interventions are
With this functionality, our aim is for regional stakeholders — government
institutions, local planners — to use IM4FS for scenario planning, to scale up
agricultural innovations across the country to solve food insecurity and improve
Choosing an Honest beverage may seem like a relatively simple decision.
But the seemingly small action can actually make a big impact — not only in the
wellbeing of those who enjoy these delicious lower- or no-sugar organic
beverages, but also in the lives and communities of the supplier farmers who
help produce them.
That’s the message behind the Honest brand’s new “small decision. BIG
impact” campaign, which
showcases the brand’s purpose-driven DNA and longstanding mission to democratize
organics and promote economic opportunity — as well as its expanding portfolio.
“We’re witnessing the rise of the citizen consumer,” said Honest co-founder and
TeaEO Emeritus Seth Goldman. “People today want to express the power they
have to vote with their wallets by supporting brands they respect and trust, and
that share their values. They also want to feel like they’re making a
difference, but don’t always believe the many everyday choices they make
actually count. This campaign reminds them that every time they choose to drink
an Honest beverage, they’re choosing to make an impact.”
A series of short films uses stop-motion animation to bring to life Honest’s
Fair Trade Certified™ ingredient sourcing practices and show how they benefit
farming communities, and highlight the fact that Honest Kids has half the sugar
of leading kids’ juice drinks and are sweetened only with fruit juice.
Honest | small decision. BIG impact. | Trademark - YouTube
The creative will run on streaming media platforms, and additional social and
digital content will extend the #smalldecisionbigimpact message across
“Our ‘small decision. BIG impact.’ campaign gives Honest the opportunity to talk
about the breadth of our portfolio — from bottled teas to organic youth juice
drinks to lemonades and beyond,” said Clare Verdery, general manager of the
Honest brand. “We’re showing consumers how their small choice of an Honest
beverage — no matter which one it is — can create a ripple effect of change.”
If it's not organic, it's not Honest.
All Honest products are certified organic and Honest sources Fair Trade
Certified ingredients when possible — so, every time Honest purchases Fair Trade
Certified ingredients including cane sugar and tea leaves, supplier partners
around the world receive extra money known as Fair Trade premium dollars.
Since 2005, Honest says it has contributed more than $2.5 million in Fair Trade
premiums that have been reinvested back into supplier communities to provide
clean water, school supplies, tuition, bicycles, healthcare, farming equipment
and much more. Many premium funds support farmer education initiatives such as
professional management programs and technical/agricultural training.
Communities vote on how to spend these funds based on need.
Up your impact
As part of the campaign, Honest is installing immersive vending machines in its
hometown of Bethesda, Md., as well as in New York City, Philadelphia
and Los Angeles, to further demonstrate the impact people can have just by
choosing an Honest beverage. Consumers who stop by one of the machines from July
16 through Aug. 30 can learn about the projects Honest’s partners at Fair
Trade USA™ and Organic Farming Research Foundation support, vote which
ones they think provide the biggest impact, and have the opportunity to “up
their impact” and donate a tad more by increasing their transaction amount. All
proceeds from sales of Honest Tea at these machines will be donated to Fair
Trade USA, and all proceeds from the sale of Honest Kids beverages will support
the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
“Research shows that most of our consumers don’t fully understand how the fair
trade model works,” Goldman said. “By featuring real examples of what Fair Trade
Community Development Funds have supported — such as new bicycles and school
roofs — we’re able to demonstrate the process and its impact in a simple,
The campaign also “connects the dots” across the full Honest portfolio, Goldman
added, and positions Honest as an organic “masterbrand” with something for
Honest’s partnership with Coca-Cola has expanded distribution of its organic
products to more than 150,000 retail and foodservice locations across the United
States, and more than 40 European countries.
“It’s so exciting to see the brand flourish in international markets and not
only get such a warm welcome overseas,” Goldman concluded, “but also to see
Coke’s continued adoption of Honest as a platform for organics.”
A major new report assessing the climate performance of 274 of the world’s
highest-emitting publicly listed companies finds that almost half (46
percent) do not adequately consider climate risk in operational decision-making.
A quarter (25 percent) do not report their own emissions at all, undermining a
key recommendation of the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosure
The study was carried out for the Transition Pathway
Initiative (TPI) by the Grantham
Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London
School of Economics. It uses FTSE Russell data to analyse leading companies in
14 carbon-intensive sectors such as Oil and Gas, Electric Utilities,
Automotive, Aviation and Steel. These sectors account for 41 percent of global
emissions from publicly listed companies worldwide.
TPI is backed by investors
with $14 trillion of assets including pension funds such as CalPERS and
Environment Agency Pension Fund, and asset managers such as Legal &
General Investment Management, BNP Paribas, Aberdeen Standard and
Robeco. This report builds on TPI’s first ‘State of Transition’ report,
released a year ago.
Professor Simon Dietz, co-Director of the Grantham Research Institute on
Climate Change and the Environment and lead author of the report, said: “It’s over three years since the Paris Agreement was signed and this research
shows the corporate sector is improving its climate planning and performance,
but not fast enough. Cutting through the noise we can see that barely 12 percent
of companies plan to reduce emissions at the rate required to keep global
warming below 2°C.”
The report assesses companies on ‘Management Quality’ related to climate, but
also goes further and analyses ‘Carbon Performance,’ in terms of current and
planned GHG emissions. A total of 160 companies are analysed on Carbon
Performance and the research finds that only 20 companies, or one in
eight, are aligned with a pathway that would keep global warming below 2°C.
“TPI’s research shows that we need many more investors to engage with big
emitters across all sectors of the economy to ensure companies are setting
emissions targets consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Engagement is starting to show results, but not at the pace needed,” said Adam
Matthews, co-Chair of TPI and Director of Ethics & Engagement at Church of
England Pensions Board. “A failure to grasp the seriousness of the warning
from this TPI report, and to recognise the slow pace of corporate progress, will
directly undermine our ability as pension funds to manage the financial risks
within our portfolio for our beneficiaries.”
“Today’s research shows clear leaders and laggards emerging within sectors from
airlines to aluminium — and that gives investors an investment-relevant decision
to make today,” said Faith Ward, co-chair of TPI on behalf of the
Environment Agency Pension Fund, part of the Brunel Pension Partnership. “As
the effects of climate change accelerate we can expect to see more capital flow
away from those companies that bury their head in the sand, and towards those
companies aligning with a 2°C pathway.”
“The failure of 25 percent of high-emitting companies to report their own
emissions is putting investors in a Catch-22 situation on disclosure,” Ward
added. “The UK is one of several countries moving to make climate risk reporting
by asset owners mandatory, yet without emissions data from a quarter of the
high-emitting companies, that request will be impossible to deliver.”
The report findings also include:
• 46 percent of companies are not adequately integrating climate
change into their business decisions.
• 25 percent of companies do not disclose their own carbon
• Among the companies assessed for the second consecutive year, 35 of
130 companies (27 percent) improved how they integrate climate change
into their business decisions.
• 84 percent of companies do not disclose an internal carbon
price; and 86 percent are yet to undertake and disclose climate scenario
planning — a critical part of TCFD
• Only 16 percent of companies assessed for their current and
planned GHG emissions are aligned with the 2°C benchmark.
“The clock is ticking on irreversible climate change. The fact only 1 in 8 of
the highest-emitting firms are responding at anywhere near the pace required is
an urgent challenge to investors. Investors themselves need to adopt an
emergency footing, otherwise the window to secure the change we need will be
The outdoor apparel industry has apparently taken its role as stewards of the environment in which it plays to heart, as illustrated by a series of remarkable recent moves on the sustainability front — including the release of an industry-first transparency report from Icebreaker; and the textile sector’s first-ever Planetary Boundaries Assessment, from Houdini Sportswear; as well as the world's first climate-positive outdoor footwear, from Icebug. And the progress continues ...
ALLIED Feather & Down relaunches TrackMyDown platform for consumer and retailer education, traceability
ALLIED Feather & Down — creators of
industry-leading responsible down sourcing is announcing the relaunch of its
proprietary TrackMyDown.com website, an educational
transparency tool designed to provide consumers and brands with all of the
information they may need about the down lining their jacket or sleeping bag.
After helping to create the now globally recognized Responsible Down
Standard (RDS) within its supply chain — in collaboration with The North
— and gifting it to the Textile Exchange in 2014, ALLIED wanted to take
traceability in the global down insulation supply chain to the next level. The
new TrackMyDown platform provides a more robust
user experience for consumers at point of purchase and at home. The down used in
each product will also now be more easily tracked directly through partner
brands’ own websites with seamless integration of a new TrackMyDown widget.
“TrackMyDown was built as a way to turn the down jacket, sleeping bag, comforter
or pillow inside out — allowing access to critical performance parameters and
additional information that were never known, thanks to a notoriously opaque
supply chain,” said Daniel Uretsky, President at ALLIED Feather & Down.
“Down has traditionally been a generic ingredient with, at best, a ‘fill power’
rating to communicate quality to the
“The overall quality of the down inside a garment is incredibly complex and much
more than just fill power, however. Most consumers don’t even know what fill
power is, and as garment design and construction change, fill power becomes an
increasingly less important indicator of quality or performance. We thought it
necessary to develop a tool that could provide some of this important
information and engage the potential purchaser of a down product to help them
make more informed decisions.”
Founded in Vernon, Calif. in 1987, the family-owned and -operated ALLIED has
earned a reputation as the largest, most reliable and most responsible
supplier of raw material in the industry. Through the creation of the RDS and
TrackMyDown, ALLIED is committed to safeguarding the welfare of animals while
protecting the environment.
“Yes, it is incredibly important to know where your down came from in regards to
animal welfare, but there is much, much more that goes into producing
high-performing and sustainable insulation than simply sourcing — and nobody
is communicating that,” Uretsky adds. “We always saw the RDS and other standards
as simply the foundation for the real work, communicating the complexities and
positive environmental benefits to the consumer. But this couldn’t be done
without such robust standards in place, and is why we timed the initial launch
of TrackMyDown with the first-season, RDS-certified products were hitting the
TrackMyDown was born in Fall 2015 with five partner brands: Peak
Performance, Feathered Friends, Montane, Daniadown and
Merrell. ALLIED says there are now roughly 80 globally recognized partner
brands from the outdoor, lifestyle and fashion industries using the tool, with
more than 100 brands on board for Fall 2019 product lines — meaning, most
prominent active lifestyle brands will be using TrackMyDown.com hang tags on every down-insulated
garment at retail, creating powerful direct-to-consumer connections and brand
As the tool has grown, ALLIED says it has looked at the user experience and what
information customers find most valuable. An average visit to the site lasting
over 1:30 since inception, shows that users of the site want to learn more,
which is why the company now thinks of TrackMyDown as less of a traceability
tool and more of an education tool.
“There is a lot of misinformation about down in the media. TrackMyDown seeks to
both assure the consumer that the material has been responsibly sourced, and
also that the material has been sustainably processed, and shows the exact
cleanliness and content of each lot,” Uretsky says. “When you see consumers
hesitating to purchase down products — arguably some of the most environmentally
friendly outerwear pieces available — simply because they are unclear of where
it comes from or do not understand how sustainable it can be, we realized it was
time to reinvent consumer traceability and education in our industry.”
Arc'teryx climbs into recommerce with Rock Solid Used Gear
Meanwhile, Arc'teryx — the Vancouver-based design company
specializing in technical, high-performance apparel, outerwear and equipment —
has taken another step in its ongoing commitment to sustainable design: Following in the footsteps of fellow forward-thinking outdoor brands REI and The North Face, Arc'teryx has launched its own recommerce
program, Rock Solid Used Gear. Harkening back to the company's original name when it was founded over
30 years ago, Rock Solid Used Gear is a repurposing hub designed to keep
excellent products in service as long as possible — and to lighten the company's
Rock Solid Used Gear - YouTube
Made possible by the company's expert problem solvers who design gear to outlive
its users' adventures, Arc'teryx — whose down-filled products also adhere to
ALLIED’s Responsible Down Standard — will now buy back used gear in good
condition, clean and repair products with plenty of life left in them and resell
the items at a lower cost. The prolonged lifecycle allows customers to access
supremely technical gear for less while also minimizing the brand's
"At Arc'teryx, we are more than designers — we are agents for change, leaning
into hard problems and applying a process and ethos that creates possibility,"
said Arc'teryx General Manager and President Jon Hoerauf. "We are framing
sustainability as a design problem. Strictly focusing on building leading gear
is no longer an option for us — we must apply the same design ethos to solving
problems of broader social and environmental relevance. Great gear should be
able to last through multiple users, and Rock Solid Used Gear is our solution."
As part of the Rock Solid Used Gear program offered in the US, customers can
bring used gear into local Arc'teryx stores or use the online mail-in portal to
start the trade in process. The gear will then be assessed and gear that is
deemed as lightly worn to excellent condition, with the inner label still
attached, will be eligible to receive a gift card of 20 percent of the product's
original retail price. Any items that cannot be resold, but are still
functional, will be donated to organizations with outdoor programs that need
gear. The brand is exploring circular solutions such as repurposing and
upcycling for items that have reached the end of their useful life and cannot be
repaired to a functional state. The Rock Solid Used Gear program will also allow
customers to trade in products for different sizes or colors as their lives and
"Our company's origins are in innovative design thinking to solve industry
challenges," said Director of Sustainability Drummond Lawson. "We
apply this same mentality to environmental problems. Our products are built to
last but, to keep them in service as long as feasible, we realized that our
business models also needed innovation. Rock Solid Used Gear is the result — a
platform that gets more users into great gear — and helps lower the footprint of
our company by spreading the impact of producing our gear over many more days of