Colombia commits to Deforestation-free Cocoa

The Government of Colombia has become the first Latin American country to commit to deforestation-free cocoa, as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative.

Bogotá, July 2018

The Government of Colombia – along with its largest cocoa company, Casa Luker, the National Cocoa Federation, and in partnership with WRI and IDH – has committed to eliminate deforestation from the country’s cocoa supply chain by 2020.

Colombia made the commitment as part of joining the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, a global effort to ensure deforestation-free cocoa. FOLU congratulates Colombia and all those involved in developing this initiative, including core members of the FOLU team operating in Colombia.

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Together with over 50 organisations from both public and private sectors, the FOLU team has produced a ‘Roadmap for a New Food and Land Use Economy for the Peace in Colombia’ – a set of strategies to advance sustainable rural economic development in Colombia, including policy and investment recommendations and business models to scale.

“The Food and Land Use Coalition has played an instrumental role in Colombia’s signing up to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative.  FOLU will fund the first year of implementation of the agreement, and worked closely with the Ministries, companies and partners who signed the Joint Framework for Action to bring it about.  Many of the key strategies for the implementation of the Agreement are also outlined in the Coalition’s Roadmap for a New Food and Land Use Economy for the Peace in Colombia.”

- Wendy Arenas, FOLU Host, Colombia

Cocoa is a strategic crop for Colombia: the country primarily produces high-quality Fino de Aroma cocoa, which is sought after on international markets. Unlike in West Africa, Cocoa is not currently a significant driver of deforestation in Colombia. Other activities have put pressure on the country’s forests, including livestock, cocoa production and illegal timber clearing, mining and infrastructure. Yet paradoxically, rates of deforestation have soared since the conclusion of the peace process, as parts of forest previously inaccessible due to the presence of illegal armed groups have now been opened-up to agriculture and other activities.

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The Government of Colombia sees cocoa as a solution to the problem of deforestation: agroforestry-based cocoa is part of a comprehensive program to protect existing pristine forests and restore degraded land. Not only this, but cocoa will play an essential role in providing rural employment to farmers and communities previously involved in the conflict. In fact, the initiative will be called the ‘Cocoa, Forests and Peace Initiative’, in honour of cocoa’s role in advancing the historic peace process.

“The Government of Colombia is doing its utmost to reduce the high rates of deforestation which have ensued since the peace process. With the support of the international community, and responsible businesses, my country is making strong progress towards delivering on its commitments to put an end to deforestation. Cocoa is a critical part of this effort”

- Luis Gilberto Murillo

The Cocoa and Forests Initiative began in 2017 and seeks to create a global movement for deforestation-free cocoa. Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together grow 60% of the world’s cocoa, were the first countries to join the initiative. With its rich natural resources – including globally important tropical forests – and promising signs of progress, Colombia is a highly valuable new partner in the initiative as it continues to transform the cocoa sector for benefit of people and planet.  

FABLE Consortium builds community and capacity

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land Use and Energy (FABLE) Pathways Consortium, convened by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), met for its second full consortium meeting on 6-8 June at IIASA in Austria.

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Close to 30 FABLE country team members attended in person and were joined by 20 team members from the FABLE Secretariat, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU). The meeting offered the opportunity to elevate the work of country teams across the globe by sharing knowledge, refining the framework to guide the Consortium’s analytical work and collectively raising ambitions.    

At the meeting, the FABLE teams adopted an ambitious work program and refined the FABLE pillars for sustainable land-use and food systems (figure below), which organise sustainable food and land use systesms into five simple categories, which will guide FABLE’s analytical work.

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The Consortium also explored operational 2030 and 2050 targets, which will act as North Stars for the pathways developed by country teams. These will be consistent with the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and the Aichi biodiversity targets. For example, the consortium will explore how the “Half Earth” concept developed by E.O. Wilson might be translated into measurable variables to help inform country-level action to protect and restore biodiversity.

In advance of the meeting, 25 researchers participated in a FABLE training workshop on partial equilibrium modelling and global land-use allocation models developed by IIASA and PIK. The event was a great success thanks to the focus, solidarity, and motivation of this large and diverse group of researchers. The FABLE Secretariat and partner institutions are now focusing on the next steps to strengthen this new community of practice around global land-use allocation modelling and its application to developing FABLE pathways.

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Adding to this significant progress, the work of the FABLE Consortium has been formally proposed for adoption by the G20 as a signature initiative on the SDGs by the T20 (Think20) – a group of influential think tanks from G20 countries. This serves to validate the Consortium’s world-leading work, as well as introducing the benefits of the modelling work to a broader and critical audience, placing it in the context of existing national development processes.   

The brief Advancing the G20’s Commitment to the 2030 Agenda recommends four actions on Agenda 2030 and the SDGs:

  1. Identify strategic national priorities for collective action and burden-sharing of global public goods and report on these in the collective report to the U.N. HLPF mentioned above
  2. Agree that sustainable land-use and food systems are central to the problems of freshwater supplies, biodiversity, nutrient overuse and land degradation
  3. Endorse research on pathways towards sustainable food and land-use systems such as the FABLE Pathways Initiative and recommend to the 2019 U.N. HLPF that it be adopted as a global initiative
  4. Request national FABLE research teams to engage with government agencies to develop integrated long-term national pathways towards sustainable land-use and food systems consistent with global goals.

Food and Land Use at the GEF 6th Assembly

Da Nang, Vietnam

“Food and Land Use systems are essential to delivering on the SDGs given their close links to biodiversity, agriculture, emissions, health and climate change. We don’t need to rehash the problem. We need to use the time we have to constructively share the solutions we need to find and scale action.”

With these words, Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever and FOLU Chair) opened an insightful and action-oriented roundtable at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) 6th Assembly in Da Nang, Vietnam in June. Moderated by FOLU’s Jeremy Oppenheim, the session focussed on the huge opportunity offered by the GEF’s recent allocation of $500 million to the Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program.

Through this programme, countries can receive support under three broad themes: promoting sustainable food systems to tackle negative externalities in value chains; promoting deforestation-free agricultural commodity supply chains; and promoting large-scale restoration of degraded landscapes for sustainable production and ecosystem services.

The panel brought together leaders from the public and private sector, academia and civil society to share their experiences of working in food and land use, providing examples of integrated and collaborative action that delivered social and environmental benefits while driving economic growth. This mirrors the approach taken by the Coalition in pioneer countries Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Australia.

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“We need to build rural prosperity to find a way for smallholder farmers to move up or move out.”

Shenggen Fan (Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute and FOLU Ambassador)

Participants emphasised the need to revitalise rural areas – beyond increasing farmer productivity. Increasing productivity is not sufficient to improve farmer livelihoods. Training in sustainable practices and access to markets are essential to create lasting, independent income streams for farmers. Moreover, rural areas offer an opportunity to tackle some of the biggest social and environmental challenges, including smallholder income, environmental damage and biodiversity loss. To drive change, four broad actions were discussed. Firstly, investment in rural and agricultural areas – shifting away from governments’ current focus on industry. Secondly, an integrated governance approach that brings together stakeholders from across government ministries, communities and local business at international, national and state levels. Thirdly, diversification of farmer incomes. Fourthly, policy reform to address huge inefficiencies in the sector.  

Investment is required in people and systems, as well as hardware. Speakers highlighted the importance of knowledge as a building block for driving change. This includes teaching farmers about the impacts of climate change and training them in climate smart agricultural practices, as well as providing them with technologies. Knowledge platforms play an important role in supporting decision-making and sharing learning, for policy-makers, business people, civil society leaders and farmer organisations. Policy planning benefited from applying new tools and metrics. The Agrobiodiversity Index, for example, enables governments and businesses to make better informed investments to improve agricultural outputs, support healthy and economically prospering populations and conserve biodiversity. The importance of legal rights was acknowledged, empowering farmers and vulnerable groups improve their lives.

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“A collective approach is essential to translate public and private sector commitments into keeping landscapes intact.”

Carter Roberts (President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund USA)

Partnerships and collective action across sectors is key to scale and sustain projects. No organisation can single-handedly transform food and land use systems at a significant scale. Multiple companies need to come together with governments and NGOs to deliver change beyond each participant’s individual footprint. Speakers highlighted the role of collaboration in the soy and beef moratoriums in the Brazilian Amazon, one of the greatest global success stories of avoided deforestation. Cross-sectoral collaboration is essential to create the enabling conditions for investment in sustainable landscapes, but each sector brings different strengths and capabilities to the transformation. The private sector is an essential driver of innovation and can build the business case for other stakeholders to act. Collaboration with cooperatives and communities builds confidence and trust with and between farmers, and ensures vulnerable groups are given the voice and support that they need to participate. 

Unusual partnerships strengthen the connections between productivity, land conservation, farmer income, health and more. Programs to transform food and land use must recognise and strengthen the deep connections between these systems’ building blocks. Conserving and restoring biodiversity does not mean compromising on productivity. Instead, biodiversity can improve agricultural quality and yield, as well as providing farmers and consumers with a range of underutilised, nutritious crops to grow and consume. In Burkina Faso, agroecology is being used to improve farmer incomes while conserving the natural environment. In Vietnam, the Sustainable Trade Initiative is working with actors across the supply chain to innovate and create more sustainable products.

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“Collaboration is key. Either we come together or we choose to lead the world irresponsibly.”

– Sunny Verghese (Co-founder and CEO, Olam International and FOLU Ambassador)

There is innovation everywhere: now we need to scale it. Innovation in technology, policy and finance is enabling Ethiopia to regenerate degraded land and improve smallholder incomes. Equipping farmers with the appropriate technology and tools is resulting in Kenyan maize farmers seeing productivity increase by 5 – and precious ecosystems being restored. In Bangladesh, IFAD is working with farmers to use biogas to generate the energy levels they need for post-harvest facilities. Actors in food and land use systems need to identify and bring to scale the programs that will deliver the greatest impact. This will require committed investment, strong business cases, collaboration and an integrated approach.

The GEF Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program offers a huge opportunity for ambitious countries to transform their food and land use systems for the benefit of all. FOLU stands ready to work to support countries in applying for funding, drawing on its expertise in science, business, policy, economic and its experience in developing integrated programs in Ethiopia, Indonesia and Colombia.

Participants in the session included:

Africa and Latin America Panel: Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever), H. E. Ato Kare (State Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ethiopia), Agnes Kalibata (President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), Carter Roberts (CEO, World Wildlife Fund USA), Maria Helena Semedo (Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, FAO), Ann Tutwiler (Director General, Biodiversity International) and Angelica Mayolo (Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia), Batio Bassiere (Minister of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change, Burkina Faso) and Dr Rurema Déo Guide (Minister of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, Burundi)

Asia Panel: Sunny Verghese (CEO & Co-Founder, Olam and Chair, WBCSD), Cristiana Pasça Palmer (Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity), Ajay Jakhar (Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj), Shenggen Fan (Director General, IFPRI), C.K. Mishra (Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, India), Margarita Astralaga (Director, Environment and Climate Change, IFAD), Steven Collet (Operational Director, Executive Board Member, The Sustainable Trade Initiative), Guido Schmidt-Traub (Executive Director, UNSDSN), Annette Cowie (Advisor on Land Degradation, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, GEF) and The Anh (Vice-President of Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS)

Collaborating across sectors in Indonesia

On Wednesday 30th May, over 80 Indonesian experts from government, the private sector and civil society provided input into a first draft template of the Food and Land Use Coalition’s ‘Action Agenda for a New Food and Land Use Economy in Indonesia’. The action agenda of policy and investment recommendations has been developed in close collaboration with the Indonesian government and addresses a number of Indonesia’s most pressing food and land use challenges and opportunities, including: food security, nutrition, agricultural productivity, food loss and waste, conservation and restoration.   

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Participants in the workshop will continue to feed into the action agenda over the coming months.  A first detailed draft will be prepared in time for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings in Bali in October 2018. An inaugural meeting of the national FOLU ambassadors in September will provide additional perspectives on the action agenda and its key findings, in advance of the Bali meetings.

The action agenda will also draw on a political economy study analysing some of the constraints facing the establishment of a new food and land use economy in Indonesia, and how these might best be addressed. The study is led by the distinguished academic, Professor Hariadi Kartodihardjo, of Bogor Agriculture Institute (IPB).

To translate recommendations into action, the Coalition works closely with the Indonesian Government and partners to integrate its suggested actions into existing programs and coalitions. In Indonesia, FOLU and FABLE country teams are contributing to the ‘Low Carbon Development of Indonesia Initiative’, an initiative led by the Government’s National Planning Agency, BAPPENAS, to set out a low carbon 5-year national development plan. FABLE’s work on long-term pathways for sustainable food and land use systems in Indonesia was discussed by Minister Bambang (BAPPENAS) at the 6th GEF Assembly in Da Nang in June, as part of a panel on ‘Partnerships for Implementing the 2030 Agenda’.

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To further accelerate action on the ground and secure local buy-in, FOLU is collaborating across sectors to identify and scale best practice. For example, the country action agenda team is documenting examples of successful business models in agroforestry, peatland restoration and apiculture, drawing on work from SYSTEMIQ, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Rabobank and other partners. These examples will feature in the action agenda as opportunities to replicate and scale.  In addition, the Coalition is supporting action-oriented coalitions at national and local level, including a public-private partnership on Food Loss and Waste. Finally, the Coalition is working with subnational governorates and partners in South Sumatra, East Kalimantan, Papua and West Papua to deliver regionally tailored subnational action agendas and investment plans to support these regions to implement their ambitious new food and land use economy commitments.  

FOLU's Nabarro & Haddad awarded World Food Prize

The Food and Land Use Coalition is delighted to announce that Dr David Nabarro and Dr Lawrence Haddad have been jointly awarded the prestigious 2018 World Food Prize.  Awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation, this global award honours breakthrough achievements to alleviate hunger and promote global food security.

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“David is a tireless advocate for the sustainable development goals, and has been instrumental in developing the capacity of organisations and individuals to think systemically and adopt integrated approaches. Lawrence’s research has enhanced greatly our understanding of food insecurity and malnutrition. The Food and Land-use Coalition - FOLU - benefits immensely from both David and Lawrence’s leadership and experience as we advocate for nutritious, accessible and environmentally sustainable food systems. The award is highly deserved, and we congratulate them on receiving this incredible honour.” 

- Jeremy Oppenheim

Founded in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Norman E. Borlaug, the World Food Prize recognises individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. This year, the Prize honours Dr Nabarro and Dr Haddad for their leadership in maternal and child undernutrition and contributions to reducing the number of stunted children by 10 million between 2012 and 2017.

The World Food Prize recognises Dr Nabarro’s work as head of the UN High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security in 2008 to 2014 and Coordinator of the United Nation’s Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. During this time, Dr Nabarro united 54 countries and one Indian state under the SUN Movement to implement evidence-based policies and fight child malnutrition in South Asia and Africa. Many participating countries reported a significant decline in the number of stunted children after adopting SUN guidelines. Dr Nabarro continues to oversee SUN through his service on its advisory Lead Group.

The Prize recognises Dr Haddad’s work in persuading policymakers to place a high priority on global nutrition, emphasising the fact that improving nutrition will almost halve child mortality before the age of 5. He established initiatives for accountability and guidance in global nutrition through the creation of the Global Nutrition Report, which analysed government advancements in reducing malnutrition. Through Dr Haddad’s leadership, governments can see their progress and allocate resources where they are needed most to combat malnutrition across the globe.

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“As I receive this wonderful award, I reflect on the thousands of courageous women and men who are working at local level for food systems that are well-functioning and just. They have the wisdom needed to reduce levels of malnutrition or diet-related illness. They can devise food systems that benefit people and the planet and that contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are the transformation leaders of the future.”

- David Nabarro

Dr Nabarro is Strategic Director of Skills, Systems & Synergies for Sustainable Development (4SD), a Switzerland-based social enterprise to mentor professionals working for sustainable development. He is a Senior Advisor at SYSTEMIQ, serving as a member of the senior management team for the Food and Land use Coalition (FOLU).  He advises the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) on food systems issues and curates the Food Systems Dialogues initiated by EAT, the World Economic Forum and WBCSD. He also holds a position as Professor of Global Health at Imperial College London.

Dr Haddad is the Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. He is also Chair of the Global Panel Foresight Lead Expert Group. He is an economist and his research interests are the intersection of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition.  Dr Haddad is an Ambassador for the FOLU Coalition.

Dr Nabarro and Dr Haddad will receive the World Food Prize at a ceremony in the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa, on 18 October 2018.

For more information about the World Food Prize, visit

New Climate Economy Summit

As part of its mission to make the case for transforming food and land use systems, the Food and Land Use Coalition has supported the development of the Food and Land Use chapter of the New Climate Economy (NCE)’s ‘Global Opportunities Report’. The chapter sets out the opportunities in transforming food and land use systems to drive economic growth and deliver on environmental and sustainable development goals.

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The chapter provides examples of progress and is a chance to test bold recommendations on practices such as forest protection, radical transparency, land use planning, pricing for ecosystem services and innovation. The report’s messages and recommendations were tested with leaders, including ministers of finance and environment, at a session hosted by the Coalition’s chair Paul Polman at the 2018 NCE Global Commissioner Summit on the side-lines of the World Bank Spring Meetings. The team is currently integrating feedback from this session.

The report will be launched on 6th September and will be supported by a series of events, media and communications materials. The FOLU and NCE Communications teams are working together to leverage NCE's network and communications expertise in broadcasting the Coalition’s message through the publication of the report.

GEF program to support transformational change

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In April, approximately 30 countries collectively pledged US$4.1 billion for the seventh replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) trust fund. This replenishment round has a particular allocation for a systematic ‘Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program’. This is an exciting moment for FOLU as it enables the Coalition to scale our model and impact.

Under this programme, countries can receive support under three broad themes: 1) Promoting sustainable food systems to tackle negative externalities in value chains, 2) Promoting deforestation-free agricultural commodity supply chains and 3) Promoting large-scale restoration of degraded landscapes for sustainable production and ecosystem services. Each of these themes calls for a holistic approach, like the sustainable country programs the Coalition is testing in pioneer countries Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Australia. 

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By describing this impact program, GEF is leading the world to show that transforming our food and land use systems will be critical to achieving the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals and it is providing the funding to help countries to do so.

FOLU Coalition Director, Jeremy Oppenheim will host a roundtable event at the 6th GEF Assembly, conveying the huge opportunities in transforming food and land use systems to drive economic growth and deliver on environmental and sustainable development goals. Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Founding Member of FOLU, Dr. Guido Schmidt-Traub will also be hosting a roundtable session at the 6th GEF Assembly, on Partnerships for Implementing the 2030 Agenda. 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an independently operating financial organisation, providing grants for projects to help tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental problems, as well as acting as the funding mechanism for a range of international conventions.

Driving progress on-the-ground at WBCSD

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is currently pulling together the business narrative on their Food, Land and Water system transformation program. Business leaders are already showing strong signs of commitment. This was discussed at a meeting in Montreux in April, attended by approximately 500 Chief Sustainability Officers who shared updates on separate projects within the Food, Land and Water space. Highlights included the publication of FReSH’s report on consumption trends, the work of the Soft Commodities Forum and a Climate Smart Agriculture update on installing weather stations in the cocoa-belt. Attendees expressed strong interest in how the FABLE modelling could help them to make long-term strategic decisions.

Building Capacity across the FABLE Network

An expanding network. There are now commitments from over 20 country and regional teams, composed of local knowledge institutions, who are developing science-based modelling frameworks, targets and pathways, which countries can use to assess policies relating to land-use and food systems. The Consortium lifts the ambition of participating country/regional teams by sharing knowledge and building capacity. They are also granted access to an international network of modellers with which to discuss findings and optimise analyses.

Building capacity. The country teams are currently testing and familiarising themselves with a simplified excel modelling tool developed by IIASA and shared with them in April. Once familiarised, the teams will engage in “Scenathons”: a collaborative online effort to aggregate national pathways and identify inconsistencies between the sum of national pathways and global objectives, as well as inconsistencies across national pathways. The scenathons and the underlying Excel tools will generate first results by the middle of this year, with a first set of national pathways that are consistent with global sustainable development objectives by Autumn 2018.

What next? The second all-team meeting of the Consortium will take place on 6-8th June, 2018 in Laxenburg, Austria. The meeting presents an opportunity for teams spread across the world to discuss the status of their FABLE country teams and outreach with local groups, to receive an update on the broader FOLU effort, and to receive training on the modelling and frameworks for their work.

Prior to the meeting, a training for all FABLE country teams organised by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Around 25 country team experts will participate in the training, from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa and the USA.

Refining a roadmap for a sustainable future in Colombia

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Roadmap workshop. Over 130 people provided input into the Coalition’s draft ‘Roadmap for a New Food and Land Use Economy for the Peace in Colombia’ at a workshop in Bogotá in March 2018. The  'roadmap' of policy and investment recommendations has been developed in close collaboration with the Colombian government and addresses the specific priorities and concerns around food and land use in the country. The team plans to share the roadmap with the current government from mid-April to June 2018 and with the new government in August-September 2018.

Science-based targets and pathways. The FABLE country team has begun work on science-based targets and pathways for food and land use systems in Colombia. Partners in the modelling work include Universidad de los Andes and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. The team is also delving into developing a regional approach to FABLE, by working very closely with Brazil and Argentina, for example at a meeting in Bariloche, Argentina on 19th – 21st March 2018. Read more about this regional effort here.

FOLU lifts off in Ethiopia

The Coalition formally launched its Ethiopian national program at a government-hosted meeting of the Climate Resilient Green Economy initiative in Addis Ababa on 15th May 2018. Ethiopia is one of the first countries in which the Coalition is launching a national program of work, including both mid-term policy recommendations and long-term science-based pathways. This reflects the country’s vision and leadership on the food and land use agenda.

Coalition ambassador Agnes Kalibata delivered a keynote speech, offering fresh perspectives on the Coalition’s approach and ambition in the country. Attendees included Khalid Bomba (CEO, Agricultural Transformation Agency) and Ato Belete (former Minister of Environment).  To accompany the launch, Paul Polman and Gemedo Dalle collaborated on an op-ed about the opportunities in Ethiopia’s food and land use systems. The piece was published in the Addis Fortune in the days preceding the launch. Read the article here. With a team already in place in Ethiopia, the launch was an opportunity to further build relationships and awareness of the Coalition’s work among key audiences and potential partners.

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Collaborating across sectors to drive change. Meanwhile, the FOLU country team continues to work closely with a wide range of actors across sectors to deliver on Ethiopia’s ambitious environmental targets while creating opportunities for local communities and businesses.

The Coalition is working to develop a package of policy recommendations for sustainable food and land use systems, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock (MoAL) and the National Planning Commission, as well as several well-known non-governmental organisations working in this field. The coalition is also working to shape the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (2020-2025) and integrate the FOLU approach into the Agricultural Transformation Agency’s Agricultural Commercialisation Clusters, in collaboration with Synergos.

The coalition seeks to accelerate action and bolster its policy recommendations by assessing restoration business models and pilot projects. The country team is investigating the potential to scale and learn from initiatives, including examples from FARM Africa, Komaza and Valley International.

Building modelling capacity. The FABLE Consortium has launched a country team in Ethiopia to work on science-based targets and long-term pathways. The modelling work will be led by the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI). The pathways that come out of the modelling will inform the policy advice and wider work that the Coalition is conducting in Ethiopia.  Read more on the FABLE Consortium’s progress.

FOLU Roundtable Discussion in Davos

Davos, CH - Gathered together for the World Economic Forum in Davos, leaders from business, policy, civil society and international governance met to discuss the urgent need for transformation of food and land use systems to secure a brighter future for people and planet – and their relative roles in driving this. The collaborative and action-oriented conversation was convened by the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) Chair, Paul Polman, who both initiated and concluded the discussions. 

Participants noted that food and land use systems are vital to achieving Sustainable Development Goals. However, issues of food and land use are not receiving the attention they deserve and as a result, decision-makers may not appreciate how serious the challenge and large the opportunity is. The community of food and land use actors can learn from the ‘climate’ movement – of which many were a part.

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Attendees agreed that rapid, coordinated action will need to underpin the required transformation. National governments may lead the transitions through close engagement with other governments, local and international businesses, scientific groups and civil society. The private sector is key, not least due to their connection to both farmers and consumers. Companies can work with other stakeholders to support the transition through changes to their business strategy and practice. Financial leaders should seek to develop financial vehicles and mechanisms to encourage investment in sustainable food and land use projects. In addition, attendees discussed the value of at times adopting transformation strategies that come with some risk. 

Additionally, further developing the evidence base will equip decision-makers with pathways for action and help to get investments flowing in the right direction. By supporting countries to use science-based analytical tools, decision-makers will be better informed of the long-term consequences of policy decisions like subsidy reform.

Attendees discussed the Coalition’s role in supporting the transformation. Several participants referred to the Coalition’s comprehensive approach and the substantial progress made in the last year. The Coalition was described by some as a clear leader, with the ability to bring multiple actors together in pursuit of people-centred transformation and the agility to move fast. 

What next? The Food and Land Use Coalition needs to support fast, coordinated action. The Coalition needs to raise the profile of our messages, purpose and achievements to bring the conversation into the mainstream. And in moving forward, decision-makers need to keep the interests and emotions of people and their specific, local concerns in mind at all times.

Paul Polman concluded the session by recognising the momentum in the room: “The FOLU Coalition is a very strong platform. Let’s get it to action”

Our sincere thanks to Yara International for their generous support in hosting the event. 

Businesses and organisations involved in the event included: African Development Bank, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Cargill Incorporated, Chatham House, the EAT Foundation, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Government of Colombia, the Government of Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative, the Government of the Netherlands, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Nestle, New Climate Economy, Rabobank, Royal DSM NV, Scaling Up Nutrition, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), SYSTEMIQ, UN World Food Programme, Unilever, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank Group, the World Resources Institute, WWF International and Yara International.

FABLE inaugural meeting in Austria

The FABLE Consortium (Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land Use and Energy) is a self-governed consortium, convened by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the International Institution for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The FABLE country teams develop science-based targets and integrated, long-term pathways in their respective countries using modelling tools and analyses covering agriculture, bioenergy, food security, diets, water, biodiversity, and other critical dimensions of food and land-use systems.

The FABLE Consortium operates as part of the broader Food and Land-Use Coalition to provide the integrated analysis that can support relevant stakeholders in undertaking the deep transformations needed to achieve sustainable land-use and food systems. Individual members of the FABLE Consortium can draw on the expertise and reach of the Food and Land-Use Coalition.

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The FABLE Consortium held its inaugural meeting on 6-8 December 2017 at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. Discussions centred on how countries can develop integrated long-term pathways towards sustainable land-use and food systems that are consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (including the Sustainable Development Goals) and the Paris Climate Agreement. Scientists representing 16 country and regional teams took part in the meeting and agreed that most countries lack the modelling tools required to undertake an integrated analysis of climate and food policy options on land-use change. Those present committed to support countries in developing and using the required modelling tools by joining the Consortium and agreeing on a programme of work. The first outputs of the FABLE workplan are due in mid-2018.

Country specific analysis will be conducted by country teams comprising eminent research institutions from the nation with the technical support provided by IIASA as needed. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC|A) and other leading research institutions also support the Consortium. Currently, FABLE country and regional teams include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Nordic Region, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa and the USA. Thus, covering most G20 economies. Each team and the secretariat will liaise with governments, business, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders to consult on the modelling and ensure that the pathways can inform national and international policy processes.

What next?

The FABLE Consortium is currently creating a simplified Excel modelling tool for country teams to test and use in developing pathways. FABLE teams will populate the tool over the coming months, aiming to deliver initial results by summer 2018, which will offer an indication of how countries can achieve SDGs related to food and land use systems.

A Latin American FABLE meeting in Argentina in March will bring together teams from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia to develop a regional approach and build on existing capacity and knowledge.

A second meeting of the Consortium is planned for June 2018 to take stock of progress and further strengthen the network.

For more information: Please reach out to Guido Schmidt-Traub ( ), Executive Director at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Collaborating to drive action in Colombia

The Food and Land Use Coalition is working with a diverse set of developed and developing countries. We seek to accelerate rapid action – from governments, philanthropy and civil society, businesses, international organisations and a range of other groups. The Coalition’s work is adapted to the distinct conditions and challenges of each geography, with shared features including: national science-based targets and long-term pathways, developed by individual country teams of the FABLE Consortium, including local knowledge institutions; an action roadmap for a new food and land use economy, developed in collaboration with policy-makers, that aligns with long-term goals and include key policy and regulatory reforms, investment priorities and funding mechanisms, and new public-private partnerships to drive change through the economy; a financial and investment prospectus to attract capital; support for, and development of, coalitions of action; and persuasive messengers or ambassadors.

Great progress has been made since the FOLU Coalition in-country roadmap team launched work in Colombia in Autumn 2017. The following provides a brief snapshot:

Science-based targets and pathways. As part of the Coalition, the FABLE Consortium is firming up Colombia’s in-country team, which will start on the modelling work shortly. A Latin American FABLE meeting in March will bring together teams from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia to develop a regional approach. The Brazilian team, which is further along in the modelling work, will share its experience on data availability and modelling with the two other countries' modelling experts.  


Roadmaps for a new food and land use economy. Working in close collaboration and consultation with key local stakeholders, the Coalition’s in-country team are hard at work on the first version of an ‘action roadmap’ towards a new food and land use economy, including a policy review and preliminary economic analyses. A stakeholder workshop in Bogotá – bringing together farmers’ representatives, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, private sector leaders and government officials - in late March will act as a critical moment to secure feedback and buy-in on the document and approach. 

Ensuring results take hold. Dr Cristián Samper (CEO, the Wildlife Conservation Society), a FOLU ambassador, has discussed the Coalition’s work with Colombia’s presidential candidates. Plans are in place to engage more with presidential candidates in the lead-up to the presidential elections in May 2018. 

Financial and investment prospectus. Work on a financing plan to correspond to the roadmap will launch in early Summer 2018. This will include recommended subsidy reforms, public and private capital investments, blended finance and more.


Coalitions of action. Work is underway to identify action coalitions to support each leg of the emerging roadmap. For some, action coalitions already exist. For others, additional support will need to be catalyzed. This is the case for food loss and waste (FLW) in Colombia. We are supporting and energizing the work of Desperdicio Cero to drive national efforts to halve food loss and waste by 2030.

The FOLU Coalition is working to gather government leaders, development institutions (e.g., the local FAO team) and companies, including domestic members of the Consumer Goods Forum and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as well as domestically-headquartered companies. An initial meeting is planned for late March. This will explore the business case for taking FLW seriously, using case studies to demonstrate how and why to measure FLW and how to use this information to realize business benefits. 

The Coalition has engaged with farmers’ associations, consumer groups and social development agencies with a commitment to redistributing surplus food to disadvantaged groups. The Coalition has also begun a dialogue with the team in the Bogotá mayoralty responsible for ensuring that school meals in the capital are healthier, and that less of the food goes to waste.  A similar exchange is underway with the Ministry of Health experts leading Colombia’s efforts to reduce malnutrition and to tackle the country’s growing rates of obesity and diabetes. 

Coalition chair Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever) hosted a successful meeting of CEOs, government ministers and civil society leaders in October 2017, introducing the work of the Coalition to key stakeholders from across sectors, and securing their commitment going forward.

  Paul Polman hosted a successful meeting with key Colombian stakeholders in October, 2017

Paul Polman hosted a successful meeting with key Colombian stakeholders in October, 2017

Meanwhile, scoping work is underway by the in-country team for advancing land use conversion-free commodities (e.g., cocoa) as part of the transition to more sustainable food and land use systems, working with the Tropical Forest Alliance, World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and other partners.

For more information: Please reach out to Craig Hanson (, Global Director of Food, Forests & Water at the World Resources Institute.

Food and Land Use Coalition Debuts at United Nations

Food and Land Use Coalition Debuts at United Nations

As part of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, experts representing business, government and civil society came together to discuss the challenges facing today’s food and land use system, and the opportunities for solving them. The purpose of the discussion was to present the case for a sustainable transformation of these global systems to meet social, economic and environmental needs, and introduce the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) as part of the solution.