Integration of data systems, to allow insights to move smoothly across technologies, industries, timescales, can support climate-smart food systems that improve health and fiscal stability.

The Good Food Finance Network has issued a policy insight brief on the transformational linkages between integrated data systems for food systems finance decision-making and non-market approaches under Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement. Below is a condensed version of that brief.

  • Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement envisions ‘non-market’ approaches to international cooperative climate crisis response — any way of working together to accelerate climate action that is not emissions trading. The optimal decision-support data will determine whether such cooperative arrangements operate with the ambition needed for economy-wide transformation.
  • The Integrated Data Systems Initiative aims to develop a Blueprint outlining strategies for the technical and substantive integration of data systems related to good food finance imperatives, across sectors. It will then shift to building integrated data systems, to accelerate the design and deployment of such systems to drive financial decision-making.
Connections between distinct modes of measuring performance will create unique additional insights and opportunities, making decisions more multidimensional and more valuable. Image: Sander Weeteling.

Areas of work

Multidimensional food-related data systems can support all of these areas of international cooperation. For instance:

  1. Policy, Pricing, and Incentives — Instead of imposing the equivalent of pollution taxes on food, which most people cannot afford to pay more for, integrated data systems can allow for cooperative de-risking of system-wide investment in healthy, sustainably produced food becoming the mainstream norm.
  2. Prioritization and Performance — Integrated data systems can provide a holistic / systemic picture of supply chains, and allow for tracking embedded carbon pollution, lack of resilience, unsustainable land use practices, or potential vulnerability to market-driven price spikes. The resulting integrated performance metrics can then direct investment toward the better practices that reduce harm across the economy and over time.
  3. Operational Support — Investing in nature and fiscal rescue can be improved by valuing the non-monetary co-benefits or macro-resilience impacts of specific activities.
  4. Vulnerability-Response Measures — Vulnerability to climate impacts and food system shocks is a macrocritical indicator, which can not only shape an overall economy, but determine whether it succeeds or fails across the board. Integrating vulnerability and related response measures into mainstream data systems will allow for new financial instruments, insurance services, and public-sector relief, designed to reduce vulnerability and enhance inevitability, across whole economies.

The key word is trade. Because they are modes of international cooperation, non-market approaches always have some impact on trade. Food systems imperatives demand we embrace this fact, and look for the best possible NMA strategies to achieve the best possible outcomes for everyone — especially the most vulnerable.

We propose here a select group of focus areas where integrated data systems, providing multidimensional performance tracking, could support transformational NMAs that shift food systems, enhance overall climate action, and consolidate sustainable development gains.

  • Nutrition Security — A Nutrition Security Pact could serve as a cooperative approach to accelerating climate-smart, health-building food systems. Implementation could be enhanced through integrated data systems that measure the health of people, nature, and the macroeconomy, and reveal the value of
  • Watershed Resilience — Upstream-downstream and cross-border watershed resilience initiatives can slow nature-loss, accelerate climate resilience, and support global freshwater sustainability goals. Integrated data systems can connect actors across value chains, including jurisdictions joining multi-party financial arrangements.
  • Pandemic Prevention — Integrated data systems supporting healthy, sustainable food systems finance, can reduce the threat of zoonotic spillover and pandemic shocks, like COVID-19, by measuring the degree to which we reduce nature-loss, protect habitat, curb the disruption of climate patterns, and build integrated financial and logistical resilience across borders.
  • Financial Reform — The international financial system is working through reforms to stop ignoring costs to human health and wellbeing and to nature. Integrated data systems driving investment into climate-resilient, healthy food systems can support international cooperative measures that realign financial flows with better performance in multiple dimensions.

Tracing market opportunity

In the coming months, the Good Food Finance Network will be working to identify opportunities for discrete business model innovations and delivery of marketable services to end users, based on these insights. Linkages between Good Food Finance data systems integration efforts and emerging non-market approaches under Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement will play a role in the developing Blueprint for Data Systems Integration to Support Good Food Finance Decision-Making.

As we shift from previously prevailing standards for financial value creation to new standards based on multidimensional performance tracking, international cooperative arrangements to facilitate the delivery of best available decision-support data will play a crucial role. These NMA-data linkages will also form part of the background planning process for development of a new Co-Investment Platform for Food Systems Transformation.