2022 presents the biggest opportunity for agriculture to come together to commit to delivering more sustainable food systems

Giulia Di Tommaso, President & CEO CropLife International

By Giulia Di Tommaso, President & CEO CropLife International

The past few years have presented the world with unexpected challenges and opportunities, and 2022 promises to accelerate these trends and transitions. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating food insecurity and the vulnerability of supply chains globally. As we continue to adapt to the realities of COVID-19, we are committed to working in multi-stakeholder systems to do our part to minimize the impact of the pandemic wherever possible. As a global community, we must be ready to face the challenges presented in 2022. The same will be true for agriculture.

Last year we saw stakeholders from across the global agri-food chain gather for the first time to identify game-changing solutions during the UN Food Systems Summit; and we saw the world turn its attention to climate change in a way not seen before during COP26. Never in our lifetime has the intersection between innovation and sustainable food systems been more evident. In 2022 we can expect renewed emphasis on and elevation of agriculture as an enabler for resilient economies, and as a key part of the discussion on how to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Our own engagement continues to be guided by our purpose and vision to advance innovation in agriculture for a sustainable future and play a leading role in enabling sustainable food systems. We are already building on lessons learned in 2021 as we set our priorities and agendas for this year’s COP27 and other international fora. While not all stakeholders share our views, beliefs, or experiences, we truly believe we can find common ground and a shared purpose. This is at the core of our new purpose-led strategy and plan for 2022 and beyond.

In support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are working with our members to roll out a new strategic framework to drive actionable progress toward the global ambitions of zero hunger, carbon neutrality, and nature-positive agriculture. Like everything we do, our new strategy is grounded in science and guided by our foundational principles of responsible innovation, respect for human rights, and transparency.

We recognize that no single actor can solve these challenges alone, and our framework provides a blueprint to engage with organizations with shared goals and ambitions, as well as highlight the positive contributions our members and industry are making toward these shared ambitions.

Working with aligned organizations has provided us with great opportunities to collaborate and engage with many key stakeholders including USAID and GIZ. And we are excited to build momentum with existing partnerships such as ours with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which continues to boost farmer resilience to climate change, support rural communities, and ultimately address zero hunger. This includes reducing the effects of pests such as the fall armyworm, which can have a devastating impact on farmers’ livelihoods and severely affect the food security of vulnerable populations.

We also continue to collaborate on our shared ambitions on stewardship and regulatory policies, including safe disposal of obsolete stocks and empty container management, and rolling out our Sustainable Pesticide Management Framework, which equips farmers with innovative technologies and practices to mitigate and adapt to pest and disease challenges in climate-friendly ways.

Through CropLife International and our global network, we have established over 300 individual partnerships with international organizations and local NGOs to build capacity and train farmers on integrated pest management and responsible use of plant science technologies. This range of successful partnerships, collaborations, and coalitions has provided us with valuable know-how and understanding through listening, learning, and working with a broad range of stakeholders to provide the best solutions.

We are pleased to be a part of new alliances such as the Coalition for Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems, and as an “Innovation Sprint Partner” for the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate to increase and accelerate investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems innovation, for sustained and inclusive growth.

A key priority for us in 2022 will be continuing to build new partnerships grounded in our strategic focus areas to highlight the role of innovation in sustainable agriculture and to do our part to contribute to the innovative solutions needed to achieve the SDGs.

In 2021, we saw the global conversation around the importance of soil health elevated. Soil health and fertility is not only the foundation of our food systems and critical for the achievement of the SDGs, but also functions as a major carbon reservoir and water regulator, demonstrating how agricultural innovation can contribute to natural climate solutions. We are proud to be a facilitator and supporter of the Private Sector Call to Action for Soil Health, and look forward to working with agricultural input companies, food companies, financial institutions, and other businesses to raise awareness of the central role of soil and accelerate the adoption of best practices that improve soil health.

We recognize that our work is not without challenges and challengers, but I believe that having the courage to face these challenges together will unlock new and better ideas, exciting innovations, new partnerships, new technologies, and most importantly, new solutions for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Looking to 2022 and beyond, I remain an impatient optimist. I believe strongly in the role agricultural innovation can and will play in delivering the sustainable food systems of the future, and that innovation delivered through collaboration and partnerships is key not only to reducing emissions, halting biodiversity loss, and improving rural community livelihoods but ultimately to accessing more nutritious food within planetary boundaries.

My new year’s resolution is to ensure CropLife International plays our part in making 2022 the year we all come together across boundaries and silos and commit to working together to deliver the sustainable food systems of the future.