Of course, many farmers have already been collecting information relating to sustainability for decades, but the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss in particular have now created an urgent need for farming to become part of the solution which can, arguably, only be achieved if we measure the impact of our farming practices on outcomes, thereby enabling society to reward us for delivering positive public goods.
There are multiple ways in which sustainable farming practices can be rewarded; these include through food labelling which reflects the beneficial impacts, redirected government subsidies – for instance through the English ELMs scheme – market based incentives for building soil carbon or biodiversity, and preferential interest rates from the banking and investment communities. But in all these cases, you can neither manage nor reward outcomes unless you measure them. The emergence of consensus within the farming community about such a harmonised framework, now supported by a growing number of certifiers, food companies, retailers, bankers and NGOs, not just in the United Kingdom but internationally, raises the tantalising prospect of a framework which could inform a Paris agreement for food after the COP26, and a foundation for future agreement regulating international trade in food.
We are fortunate indeed to be hosting one of the Countdown to COP26 TEDx talks which is taking place on Thursday 29th April at 3 pm (UK time). I urge you to join the session if you are able, or watch it on our website or on YouTube if you can’t make it on that date.
Sign up here.