• Grahame Dixie Executive Director, Grow Asia

Takeaways from the Sustainable Development Impact Summit (September 23-26th, New York)

The Sustainable Development Impact Summit had two important roles. Firstly, to facilitate a conversation on what are the new ideas, developments in the sustainable development space – particularly around the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Secondly, to hear about the ongoing and recent developments within Grow Asia.

During these conversations, Grow Asia championed the voice of ASEAN’s smaller-scale producers, and highlighted the emerging needs of the region’s rapidly changing food systems and demands. The key points discussed during the Summit were:

  1. The Great Protein Debate - should we continue pushing food systems to go beyond meat?

  2. The Food Action Alliance - the idea of creating a group of major players from the private sector under the International Fund for Agricultural Development to align action globally while facilitating partnerships with the smallholder farming sector.

  3. Just Rural – A partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and Department of Environment to boost environmentally sustainable practices to farming

  4. Incentives for Climate Smart Agriculture – founded on a study by the World Economic Forum and McKinsey. The report uniquely mapped out 23 methods of reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the agriculture and food industries. The study also included estimates on how much implementing the changes would cost and how much GHG emissions could be reduced with the intervention.

The McKinsey presentation was important, as it highlighted a variety of ways the farming industry could reduce their carbon footprint, provided key insights on the costs of implementing such activities, and provided an image of how much carbon dioxide can be reduced. This led to the vital conversation about how the adoption of these techniques could be incentivised.

Grow Asia raised the point that many smaller scale farmers have adopted new techniques which have proven to generate excellent economic benefits. We also highlighted the need to understand and resolve the real issues hindering the participation of the smaller scale farmers, such as: lack of access capital; aversions to risks, and the need to engage with new technology before adoption. Grow Asia encouraged building and nurturing what has been successful, which includes local area’s PPP action committees, voucher schemes, matching grants to mitigate adoption risks, and promoting uptake with a group of respected, early adopters.

What was really encouraging was receiving positive feedback on the Grow Asia network and governance structure from industry leaders such as Rabo Bank, AfDB, Harvard and CGIAR. Grow Asia was repeatedly being used as the prime example of an effective multi-stakeholder partnership business model. What they found particularly impressive was:

  • The large-scale results achieved by our Country Partnerships and their members

  • Our creative approach to the Grow Asia digital program

  • The achievement of policy change – particularly The ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry by the ASEAN Council of Agricultural Ministers

  • Our progress towards enabling the individual Country Partnerships to become more autonomous and self-financing, with Indonesia and Vietnam being the most mature in this regard

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