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

New York, NY — 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. The Coalition brings together organisations representing key actors needed to transform the global food and land use system, including scientists, policy makers, as well as leaders from business and civil society. The Business & Sustainable Development Commission is a founding member of FOLU. 

Moderated by journalist Zeinab Badawi, the panellists discussed the moral imperative and business case for change, and the national and local solutions required to create an enabling environment for system transformation. The moral imperative rests in not only the need to improve smallholder farmer incomes, but also to mitigate climate change and address vast global nutritional inequalities. The Business Commission's Better Business, Better World report shows sustainable transformation of the food and land use system could be worth US$2.3 trillion in new market value by 2030. Business, however, cannot unlock this opportunity alone. There is a need to consider local and regional conditions that can support or impede progress, such as national policy, investment conditions and monitoring systems. 

Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen kicked off the event by discussing the ‘false trade-off’ between feeding a growing global population and protecting the natural capital on which we depend. The result, he said, is a system characterised by poverty, ill-health, profound inequality, damaging impacts on climate and land degradation. Hegelsen recognised the role of the Coalition in breaking down siloes and bringing cross-sectoral expertise together to “better understand the interconnected challenges that we are trying to solve and find the solutions that work in a complex reality.”

Highlighting the enormous business opportunity in transforming food and land use systems, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, stated that, while the current system is not fit for purpose, business needs government and ciivil society as partners. The Food and Land-Use Coalition brings together diverse stakeholders united by a “common passion to [create] an uncommon collaboration,” to provide technical solutions and helps to drive the courage and political will for sustainable change.

A Coalition leader, Gunhild Stordalen, Founder & President of the EAT Foundation, set out a fundamental aim of the coalition as that of establishing the science-based definition of sustainable diets globally. Transformed systems must shift from being a main driver of global challenges to a key tool in tackling them.

The group went on to discuss the huge and untapped potential for data in agriculture, the need to bring tribes together to deliver solutions at scale, and the importance of empowering rural communities through finance and information. Collaboration ran as a thread through the discussion, including public-private partnerships and the need to involve civil society and the farmers themselves from the outset of the initiative.

Svein Tore Holsether, CEO, Yara International, agreed that such transformation demands collective action, and underlined the economic and moral imperative for action: “we know that inclusive and sustainable business models are possible, and what’s more it’s the only way forward for the smallholders, for the food industry, for consumers and for the world.”

Other panellists included Sara Menker, CEO of Gro Intelligence; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former Finance Minister, Nigeria & Former Managing Director, World Bank; Sergio Londoño Zurek, Director of the Presidential Agency of Cooperation, Colombia; and Gerda Verburg, Coordinator, Scaling Up Nutrition.