Oxfam recently released the paper: Feeding Climate Change, What the Paris Agreement means for food and beverage companies (June, 2016), where it emphasizes that “For the first time, the 2016 World Economic Forum’s global risks report ranks the failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation as the most impactful risk to countries and industries, with water crises coming third”.

Oxfam’s study reflects that the food and beverage sector has a significant footprint that represents 25-27% of global greenhouse gas emission. Furthermore, this sector sources their raw materials from smallholder producers in developing countries, which are located in regions that will be most hardly affected by climate change and whose farmers are more vulnerable to this phenomenon.

The study argues that the food and beverage sector has the responsibility to lead the way “in setting out the next generation of corporate climate commitments on adaptation and resilience”, in response to the Paris Agreement. The organization proposes a number of strategies that food and beverage sector companies could implement to support producers, communities and value chains in the development and implementation of mitigation and adaptation plans to deal with climate change.   

Climate change risks, adaptation measures and the producers’ wellbeing are among the top priorities of SAFE and of the cocoa and coffee companies that conform the platform. As a result platform members now have the enormous responsibility to lead future changes within the coffee and cocoa markets. Some of them are already implementing adaptation activities in their supply chains in accordance with some of Oxfam recommendations for the sector: provision of technical assistance, inputs, investment plans, financial support and similar services in their supply chains.  

However, other recommendations presented by Oxfam represent interesting opportunities for our partners to incorporate them into the SAFE projects, among them:

  • Provide technical support to farmers to increase agricultural productivity.
  • Collaborate with farmers to adapt their agricultural practices to climate change.
  • Guarantee transparent, stable and fair sourcing relationships in relation to price, volume, quality, delivery, payment schedules and other trading conditions.
  • Establish grievance mechanisms for farmers to report business practices within their supply chain that create or aggravate vulnerabilities.
  • Invest in plans and actions to improve resilience of small-scale farmers and enhance their adaptive capacity, linking this goal to their business model. This could be achieved through provision of weather information; promoting sustainable farming strategies; and supporting access to inputs (food, water and seeds), access to loans, financing and technical assistance.
  • Develop water management strategies to protect communities’ right to water while supporting small-scale farmers.
  • Demand that intermediaries, traders and processors implement policies and practices that support and enable small-scale producers to earn a living income and become more resilient to the impacts of climate-related shocks.

This post represents a first approach towards this subject. However, most of the conclusions and recommendations defined at this paper may require further consideration and analysis not only from SAFE platform partners, but also by other companies, multi-stakeholder platforms, the media and other organizations to incorporate them into their supply chains and projects in the near future. 

We encourage you to read this interesting document and open up new discussions towards a safe, resilient planet.

Photo: Neil Palmer, CIAT