Boosting The Transformation of Food and Agriculture System Through Human and Natural Capital

More than 29% of the workforce in Indonesia is engaged in food and agriculture. Of this number, 88% of them work in the informal sector. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that more than 1 billion people worldwide work in the food sector. This shows the urgency of transformation in the food and agriculture sector, towards a more sustainable one. Unfortunately, transforming the food system to be sustainable is not easy, although not impossible.

“Sustainability is not a one-size fits all, we need to consider every local context, especially to change our food system,” said Prof. Damayanti Buchori, Director of the Center for Transdisciplinary and Sustainable Science (CTSS) IPB University.

This was conveyed in a two-day discussion organized by the IBCSD and the Capitals Coalition on 16 and 18 March 2021, in the context of engaging businesses in the initiative ‘Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food’ ( TEEBAgriFood). This event brought together representatives from the private and public sectors, academia and civil society to study, provide comments, and input into the draft TEEBAgriFood Operational Guidelines for business so that the Guidelines are more relevant to the Indonesian context.

This guide is based on a synthesis of cutting-edge scientific and practical knowledge, providing clear references by providing business people, particularly in the food and agriculture sector, the tools they need to assess their impact on and dependence on natural, human and social capital. The overall goal is to better inform businesses so that they can make decisions and actions that can benefit the entire system.

Meanwhile, the TEEBAgriFood initiative itself is globally organized by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), while the Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) acts as the initiator and leader from the government side for TEEBAgriFood in Indonesia. The TEEBAgriFood project for business focuses on seven partner countries around the world: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand and will run until the end of 2022.

On the first day of discussion, apart from CTSS IPB, there were also Anang Noegroho, Director of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS); Dr. Rony Megawanto, Director of the KEHATI Program; Ageng Herianto, Representative of FAO Indonesia; Henriette Faergemann, European External Action Services; and Salman Hussain, Coordinator for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), UNEP.

On the second day, Glenn Pardede, President Director of PT East West Seed Indonesia (Cap Panah Merah said, “The key to the success of the agricultural business is to ensure that smallholder farmers get better profits and livelihoods. Through maintaining healthy ecosystems and better livelihoods for the community, the company will get the benefits by itself ”.

This is related to the data from TEEB which estimates that 75% of rural people in Indonesia rely on their income from agricultural products or services generated by the surrounding ecosystem. Therefore, ecosystem degradation will not only have a negative impact on related businesses, but is likely to threaten Indonesia’s future wealth.

In the second day of discussion with the theme “Business actions based on natural, human and social capital”, Arryati Ramadhani, the Main Consultant for Environmental Resources Management (ERM), also added that an analysis of the impact of business activities on nature and society needs to be carried out as early as possible, holistic, and continuous, not just in the early stages of activity.

The second day of discussion was attended by business and government representatives, Agung Baskoro, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Division Lead, Cargill Indonesia; as well as Muhammad Saifulloh, Depusti Assistant for Food, Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs; also attended as a panelist.

Still in the context of boosting the transformation of the food and agriculture system, a free training for the assessment of the impact and dependence of the business sector on nature and humans will also be held starting on 2 June 2021. The training will discuss practical examples of business decision making based on an assessment of impact and dependence on nature and humans. To join the training, please contact IBCSD secretariat.

"Pursuing sustainable development makes companies more competitive, more resilient and adaptable in a fast-changing world, and more prepare for the future."