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 and finance for smallholders and small- and medium-sized agricultural enterprises (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 as well as political instability and conflict in certain regions. 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.
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 brings together related existing work within WBCSD on finance and tackling inequality. It is one of the key projects across WBCSD contributing to the organization-wide commitment to addressing the equity imperative within the Vision 2050 strategy. Working with actors across the supply chain to initially address supply-side challenges, GAA-EL's members are working to catalyze agri-SME finance and drive more investment into a just rural transition; develop tools and training to help companies protect human rights; and explore the role of inclusive and innovative business models in agricultural systems, such as empowering women suppliers through procurement. These solutions are in line with action areas identified in the comprehensive WBCSD Food & Agriculture Roadmap.