Productive and resilient livelihoods, thriving rural communities and equitable value distribution are core tenets of a sustainable food system and underpin a strong agribusiness sector. The Global Agribusiness Action on Equitable Livelihoods (GAA-EL) project, as a part of WBCSD’s overall leadership on the equity and livelihoods agenda, works with companies across the value chain to generate strong business value as well as social impact through 1) improving access to markets for smallholders and agri-SMEs; 2) strengthening human rights policy and practice; and 3) promoting inclusive innovation and technology.
A stable, resilient and transparent supply-chain is essential to a thriving agribusiness sector. Smaller suppliers and value-chain actors are undergoing stress from climate change and are acutely vulnerable to the economic fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those that produce most of the world’s food also represent the majority of the malnourished globally and those living in poverty. In turn, rural workers are moving away from farming and into urban areas in search of a better quality of life. Private sector engagement in these communities to find solutions that strengthen their resilience and reward their efforts is critical to successful food system transformation.
The business case
Thriving rural economies are an essential pre-requisite for a thriving agribusiness sector and a sustainable food system. Consumer demand for fairly traded and sustainably sourced products; new technologies providing essential data that can drive improved efficiencies and productivity; and innovative financing models that reward equitable investments are fast emerging. These trends and tools offer a potential win-win: stable and transparent supply for the agribusiness sector; resilient rural economies and improved livelihoods.
The GAA-EL project builds on progress made by the Global Agribusiness Alliance from 2016-2020 and brings together related existing work within WBCSD on innovation and finance. It is also one of the key projects across WBCSD contributing to the organization-wide commitment to and focus on social sustainability and equity. Working with actors across the supply chain to address supply-side challenges, GAA-EL's work unites the private sector across the entire supply chain to enable agri-SMEs to access finance and drive more investment into a just rural transition; develop tools and training for human rights due diligence; promote action to tackle post-harvest loss; and explore the role of inclusive innovation in agricultural systems. These solutions are in line with action areas identified in the comprehensive WBCSD Food & Agriculture Roadmap.