We aim to make visible the full costs of food by investing in efforts to identify, measure, and value the positive and negative environmental, social, and health externalities of food and agricultural systems, and to deploy innovative strategies to effect associated policy and market change.
Through our work on True Cost Accounting (TCA), we aim to see:
- TCA established as a scientifically validated approach that informs policy and practice toward healthy and sustainable food systems amongst governments, farmers, corporations, the finance and investment community, and other relevant stakeholders.
- A robust global dialogue on the importance and potential of TCA for food systems that strengthens TCA’s systemic approach (including climate, health, agroecology), and the utilization of shared frameworks and tools to inform decision-making.
- TEEBAgriFood actively applied to business analyses, dietary comparisons, farm typologies, policy analyses, and national or corporate accounting, informing and informed by the broader TCA work of Global Alliance member foundations.
Highlights from our TCA work include:
TEEBAgriFood Evaluation Framework As a cornerstone of our work on True Cost Accounting, the Global Alliance supports TEEBAgriFood, a project housed at the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), and led by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Office. TEEBAgriFood seeks to provide a comprehensive economic evaluation of the “eco-agri-food systems” complex, and to demonstrate that the economic environment in which farmers operate is distorted by significant externalities, both negative and positive, and a lack of awareness of dependency on natural, human, and social capital. The Global Alliance has supported the development of the TEEBAgriFood Evaluation Framework and associated reports.
TEEBAgriFood Applications The Global Alliance is investing in the practical application of the TEEBAgriFood Evaluation Framework, and has supported two studies on corn in Minnesota and Maize in Malawi: Application of the TEEBAgriFood Evaluation Framework to Corn Systems in Minnesota, U.S.A., by Harpinder Sandhu et al. and A TEEBAgriFood Analysis of the Malawi Maize Agri-food System by Stephanie White, Michigan State University.
Corn in the Mississippi Basin
In this study of corn in the Mississippi basin, the TEEBAgriFood evaluation framework is applied to understand and value links between produced, social, human and natural capital in two production systems. The study evaluates the true costs and benefits associated with conventional and organic corn production systems by examining all impacts and dependencies within the value chains. This analysis supports policy and practice in order to improve corn production systems and minimize impacts on environment and human health in the Mississippi basin. Read the technical report here.
Maize in Malawi
The notion that maize is central to food security in Malawi is a widely held view. To date, however, ‘maize-led development’ has produced disappointing outcomes. The study provides an overview of the historical, political, environmental context of the maize agrifood system in Malawi, and uses the TEEBAgriFood framework to analyze maize in relation to three distinct parameters: input stocks and flows, fertility stocks and flows, and maize stocks and flows. It explores the costs of remaining beholden to a maize-centric agrifood system, as well as the factors that keep this system in place despite calls for agricultural diversification. Read the technical report here.
The GA is also supporting a study on metrics and methodologies with farmers in the UK through the Sustainable Food Trust. Additional TEEBAgriFood Evaluation Framework applications are underway through the TEEB UN Environment office.
Another generation of applications are being planned, including an application of the framework to regenerative livestock grazing systems in the US, and to Andhra Pradesh’s Climate Resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming initiative.
True Cost Accounting Community of Practice The Global Alliance for the Future of Food initiated a True Cost Accounting Community of Practice with some of the leading TCA practitioners in the field to: 1) encourage networking, learning, and collective action; 2) engage in deeper explorations of various methodologies and applications; and 3) identify tools for implementation of TCA in food systems, including pricing, policy change, and on-farm decision-making.
True Cost Accounting Accelerator The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is supporting the development of a global True Cost Accounting Accelerator to mainstream the inclusion of natural, social and human capitals in food system decision making, harmonize approaches and bringing them to scale, quickly. The Accelerator will support and amplify messages of key stakeholders and partners engaged in TCA for food systems, including the Community of Practice members, and provide a platform for increased leadership, coordination, and alignment between TCA actors. The Accelerator will facilitate the development tools that support the application of TEEBAF and TCA across food systems.
Global Alliance supported publications and activities: