WBCSD to co-lead a working group for the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) initiative 

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11 July, 2024




The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) will co-lead a working group for the Vision for Adapted Crops & Soils (VACS) initiative. The VACS initiative, spearheaded by Dr. Cary Fowler of the U.S. Special Envoy for Global Food Security, aims to cultivate a network of stakeholders to build a resilient food system grounded in diverse, nutritious and climate-adapted crops grown in healthy, fertile soils. The VACS Community of Practice (COP) brings together a wide range of public and private individuals interested in collectively advancing VACS goals, establishing eight working groups to create a policy agenda that will be used to inform policymakers at the national and multinational level.  

As a co-lead of the working group focused on how to create value chains that increase the volume of opportunity crops sold and consumed, along with its co-leaders from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), WBCSD will coordinate a group of selected experts to co-create a white paper addressing policy challenges related to creation of value chains that build supply and demand for diverse crops. The white paper will outline the proposed policy responses as well as next steps needed to address those challenges and will be published along with those from the other seven working groups during the Borlaug Dialogue, an international symposium tackling the topic of global food security, in October 2024 where the World Food Prize will be awarded to Dr. Cary Fowler. 

VACS was launched in February 2023 by the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) to promote sustainable land use and build a supply and demand for a diverse range of crops. Initially focused on the African continent, VACS is a multi-phase initiative that seeks to support governments, farmers, researchers and civil society organizations to prepare for challenges that food systems face as a result of climate change.  

Diverse, nutritious and climate adapted crops grown in healthy soils are essential for building resilient food systems. Engaging in regenerative agriculture practices, including crop diversification, is crucial in this effort, as changing climate patterns erode carbon-rich topsoil, reduce harvest yields and jeopardize food and nutrition security globally. To address these challenges, the initiative partnered up with top experts — including crop breeders, climate and soil scientists, nutritionists, agricultural economists and data scientists — to identify climate-resilient crops with the greatest potential to improve nutrition.  

Melanie Levine, a Manager in WBCSD’s Agriculture & Food Pathway, will coordinate the organization’s co-leadership. She says of the new initiative: “The VACS initiative’s theory of change aligns closely with WBCSD’s approach to food systems transformation, especially the critical role of crop diversification in supporting soil health and nutritious diets. We are excited to work with GAIN and others to outline and promote the enabling environment needed to facilitate market development for opportunity crops.”