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The TEEBAgrifood Project Launch Operational Guidelines for Business

September 14, 2023 |
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Transforming our food system is one of the most urgent challenges we face in the 21st century. Providing food security for a growing population and restoring the natural systems that food production depends upon, while ensuring social equity, requires a systems-based approach.” – Mark Gough, CEO, Capitals Coalition

The TEEBAgrifood for Business project has launched the final TEEBAgrifood Operational Guidelines for Business, alongside an introductory Primer.

The Guidelines enable the agrifood sector to build resilience, mainstream best practice, protect biodiversity and contribute to a more sustainable food system.

The Guidelines provide a practical way for businesses to understand and act upon their impact and dependencies on natural, human, social, and produced capital in the context of the agrifood sector and transform their decision-making practices.

The Guidelines reference and build on the internationally accepted harmonized business frameworks for identifying, measuring, and valuing organizational relationships with nature and people: the Natural and Social & Human Capital Protocols. The Protocols provide additional support and context when applying these Guidelines.

Building on the Food and Beverage Sector Guide, launched to accompany the Natural Capital Protocol, the Guidelines explore, for the first time, the connections within the sector with social and human capital and the finance sector.

Going beyond existing guidance, the Guidelines support businesses in understanding the interdependencies between nature and people in the value chain. This multi-capital approach marks an important step towards businesses implementing the capitals approach and integrating the value of all capitals into decision-making processes. Using outcomes of the TEEB AgriFood pilot applications, the Coalition will further explore the journey from multi-capital assessments to more integrated thinking in the development of the Capitals Protocol.

Thanks to funding from the European Commission, the Guidelines have been piloted in seven countries (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Thailand), through a variety of agricultural approaches and traditions. Through strong in-country collaborations, businesses have applied, challenged, and built upon these Guidelines over the three years since the launch of the first draft.

The Guidelines:

  • Provide context on why the four capitals are relevant to any business in the food system and how businesses benefit from the value they receive from the capitals. 
  • Develop the business case for considering multiple capitals in the food sector. 
  • Identify impacts and dependencies on different capitals relevant to businesses across the value chain of the food sector. 
  • Provide practical examples to demonstrate sector-specific business applications of the capitals approach. 
  • Reveal information about the capitals a business relies upon and impacts upon. This information serves to supplement decision-making processes rather than replace them.
  • Can offer a way of understanding the true costs of impacts within the supply chain, supporting businesses in their efforts to conduct True Cost Accounting.

The Guidelines are specifically written for businesses in the agrifood sector but the multi-capital approach can be used by businesses in other sectors.

Download the Guidelines here.

Download the Primer to the Guidelines here.

The TEEBAgrifood Project, a global UNEP Project supported by the EU, has seen Capitals Coalition working with businesses across the world with the overall goal of building resilience, mainstreaming best practices, protecting biodiversity and contributing to a more sustainable agriculture and food sector in seven EU partner countries. The TEEBAgrifood Project will close in 2023, with the launch of the final TEEBAgriFood Operational Guidelines for Business and supplementary documents.

To learn more about UNEP TEEB head here.

To learn more about the TEEBAgrifood Project head here.

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