Unlocking the potential of private sector engagement for innovations that can transform the food system

A new Discussion Starter by Clim-Eat outlines the most promising ways for research and philanthropic organizations to engage with the private sector to develop innovations that support the transition to a more sustainable food system.

Food systems innovations require an estimated USD10.5 billion of additional agriculture research and innovation investment per year between now and 2030 in order to reduce hunger by 5 per cent and meet greenhouse gas emissions targets in line with the Paris Agreement. But with public investment slowing down in recent decades, there is increasing interest in collaboration with the private sector to help fill the gap.

After all, private sector entities often have the advantage of significant innovation capacity and direct links to consumers and farmers, providing opportunities to support climate change adaptation and mitigation. At the same time, there is a risk that corporate entities steer innovation away from environmental outcomes.

The Discussion Starter, Picking locks for potential: Mobilizing private sector innovation for climate action explores how the private sector research and development pipeline for food and agriculture works, how it currently aligns to the need for climate action, the hurdles (“lock-ins”) involved in making it more climate responsive, and how to overcome them with a series of interventions (“lockpicks”).

“If we are to fundamentally transform food systems to put them on a sustainable footing, while simultaneously addressing food insecurity, we need all hands on deck in coming up with innovative solutions,” said lead author Leanne Zeppenfeldt of Clim-Eat. “This report helps to shine a light on some of the ways to engage with the private sector so that its phenomenal power and influence can help enhance environmental outcomes while also boosting food production for those most in need.”

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