U.S. Agriculture’s Opportunities to Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals

Published: 29 Sep 2020
Type: Publication

As part of our partnership with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action (USFRA), WBCSD’s Scaling Positive Agriculture and SDG Sector Roadmaps Projects supported the development of an SDG Roadmap report to assess the opportunities from now to 2030 for U.S. agriculture to continue to drive a resilient and sustainable agricultural system while resiliently confronting new crises along the way..

This report establishes that U.S. agriculture is accelerating global progress toward all 17 SDGs, and can have an outsized positive impact on a core group of seven. It serves a basis for members of the food and agriculture value chain to acknowledge their own positive contributions, align on challenges that remain and advance specific opportunities to reduce environmental impacts – in the U.S. and in the developing world.

In accordance with the framework set out in the SDG Sector Roadmap Guidelines developed by WBCSD, the findings were developed through a literature review and rigorous stakeholder engagement process comprising 41 interviews and a review workshop with stakeholders from across the value chain. USFRA’s partners in the creation of the report were United Soybean Board, WBCSD and ERM.

General context:

The U.S. is a global leader in agriculture production, providing affordable food, fiber and energy to millions in the United States and billions of people worldwide. Today’s agriculture and food system requirements are increasingly global, with demand driven by emerging markets and the hundreds of millions of people moving toward the middle class.

In this moment, the world is also confronting historic crises. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive both a health disaster and economic disruption. Societies are confronting their own roles in the lack of social and racial equity among their citizens. While the current challenges have us all focused on the very near-term, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA) is also looking to the future, and how U.S. agriculture can continue to build greater resiliency and sustainability into the U.S. agricultural system.

Key outcomes of the report :

  • The U.S. is a global leader in efficient and productive agricultural systems and the people within and supporting the agricultural value chain are responsible not only for food, fiber and energy production, but also for maintaining and enhancing the goods and services derived from natural ecosystems.
  • The sector’s contribution to food security and resilient supply chains are vital in preventing and managing conflict as well as social and economic disruptions.
  • Though challenges exist, there are unprecedented opportunities for U.S. agriculture to collaborate and build on its existing strengths to deliver business value for the sector as a whole while contributing to the SDGs and the improved well-being of people and the planet. Especially now, as the world grapples with historic crises, the path forward demands ever-greater resiliency and cooperation across the value chain.
  • This report demonstrates how U.S. agriculture already interacts with the SDGs and how the SDGs can be used as a lens to identify opportunities for impact. The actions identified here can be used to drive a shared approach for maximizing the sector’s positive impacts and this opportunity assessment invites users to engage with the impact opportunities identified to help inform future collaborations and action throughout the value chain.

View the publication

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