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Showcasing Canada’s agriculture and food sustainability credentials takes a big step forward

National Index on Agri-Food Performance Sustainability Quadrants

Ottawa: June 3, 2022 – An unprecedented private-public coalition has marked a milestone today with the release of its proposed measures for the country’s first agri-food sustainability index. The work sets out the criteria that could inform four sustainability blocks for Canada’s agriculture and food sector – the environment, food integrity, economic and societal well-being.

The Index will aim to show the sector’s progress to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, among a host of environmental metrics, and it would also report on the safety of Canadian food, as well as food security, labour priorities, and other sustainability-related priorities. The Index will report on a consolidated national basis, not on individual farms or companies.

“Backing up Canada’s trusted food brand is paramount and can become a marketplace advantage,” says David McInnes, the coalition’s coordinator. “Ultimately, the Index is about giving confidence to people here and abroad about the actions being taken in Canada to advance sustainability.”
Momentum is accelerating to advance this work with the coalition nearly doubling in size in the last several months. Counting 86 partners (refer to p. 2), the coalition includes agriculture and food associations, companies, social, environmental and Indigenous NGOs, academia, innovation and
technology organizations, financial institutions, federal and provincial governments, and municipal initiatives, among others.

The report published today reflects the work undertaken since last fall to develop the suggested measures. Some 20 indicators and 50 sub-indicators could form the proposed National Index on Agri-Food Performance, with the aim of broadly aligning with key United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and investor-driven environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

The work includes reviews by Canadian academics and several global organizations, and a governance roadmap that outlines the steps needed to be more inclusive, transparent and credible as the Index evolves. The report also describes the principles to define the methods to broaden data collection which could enhance future reporting. As well, the initiative includes three research papers that demonstrate how an Index could enable greater consumer trust, inform policy and sectoral actions, and be relevant to capital markets’ risk assessments and access to capital decision-making.

The next step for this project is the development of a focused pilot based on available and suitable data. It will also identify the methodologies to support the work. The pilot is expected to launch early 2023 to test the Index, refine its approach and broaden support for this novel tool.

Read the report and supporting materials:

For more information, visit www.agrifoodindex.ca or contact David McInnes, Coordinator, National Index on Agri-Food Performance: daviddmcinnes@gmail.com.