World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

filtered by category: Food and Agriculture

  • Date: 27 September 2023

Agriculture is one of the most essential aspects of our society—it sustains life, it creates jobs— contributing USD $3.6 trillion and employing 27% of the world’s workforce.¹

The need for sustainable resource management is more important than ever. Without it, agricultural production consumes excessive water (about 70% of the planet’s fresh water). It also significantly contributes to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and is a leading pollutant in many countries, infiltrating water, marine ecosystems, air and soil.

Unsustainable farming practices can not only have serious impacts on the environment but on people as well. When managed sustainably, agriculture can help preserve and restore critical habitats, improve soil health and improve water quality. With demand growing for food, WWF is working with key stakeholders, including governments, companies and farmers to implement better management practices that benefit both the environment and the producers’ bottom line.

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  • Date: 10 August 2023
  • Author: Katherine Devine and Emily Moberg, WWF

Just about any production process causes greenhouse gas emissions, and the production of food is no different. As a whole, the food system creates about a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The great bulk of those occur on the farm – from deforestation that converts wild habitats to farmland; from land-based agricultural practices, like fertilizer use and livestock production; and from farming practices themselves, including fossil fuel emissions from tractors and other farm equipment.

Because of already tight profit margins, farms have little leeway to invest in processes that cut those on-farm emissions. That’s where incentives come in. By offering incentives to elements of their supply chain, companies can begin to shift behavior at various steps in food’s journey from farm to consumer, mitigating GHG emissions. Incentives can range from rewards to penalties, financial or otherwise. In a new report, the Markets Institute at WWF has focused on the rewards end of the spectrum, which companies have begun to discover is the more fruitful way to engage their supply chains.

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  • Date: 24 July 2023
  • Author: Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Markets, and Executive Director, Markets Institute @ WWF

Have you ever thought that life was passing you by? Increasingly it seems to me that that is what is happening with climate change. The impacts are more extreme, more variable, and more omnipresent than we thought possible. And we all struggle — individuals, NGOs, companies, and governments alike — to find responses to these impacts.

This is perhaps most apparent in the global food system, where climate change is wreaking havoc via floods, droughts, heat domes and crop failures. Two years ago, the United Nations convened a Food Systems Summit to review and transform “the entire spectrum of food,” including its production, shipping, consumption, and disposal.

As a biennial Food Systems Stocktaking Moment begins Monday in Rome, we wanted to understand how some of the most advanced food companies we work with are coping with the current environment. The results are evident in this report, issued jointly by World Wildlife Fund and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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  • Date: 29 June 2023
  • Author: Tara McNerney, Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment Manager, WWF

The Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment (PCFWC) recently released a report detailing the initiative’s progress in 2022, demonstrating remarkable strides towards its goal of halving food waste by 2030. Particularly noteworthy is the PCFWC's groundbreaking dataset—developed using measurement and reporting tools provided by ReFED—that allows year-over-year comparison of food waste at the retail level. This dataset constitutes an unprecedented resource in food waste research that will provide much-needed guidance for the retail industry as well as other sectors.

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  • Date: 21 June 2023
  • Author: Brian Richter, senior freshwater fellow at World Wildlife Fund

The iconic Rio Grande, or “Great River,” is at risk of losing its greatness. Water overuse and climate change have heavily depleted the once-mighty flow of the river, creating desperate conditions for the farming communities and natural ecosystems that depend on it. We can restore the Rio Grande to some semblance of its former glory, but doing so will require a transformational shift in the way political leaders, farmers and communities perceive the river, their culture, and their livelihoods.

Just how far has the mighty river fallen? Consider this: whereas the river once rose forcefully in springtime in response to melting snows in Colorado, its ‘spring pulse’ has now dwindled to less than a third of its former volume. As a result, water storage reservoirs essential to farming have dried up, leaving farmers without water to grow food and fiber. At the end of last year’s growing season, New Mexico’s largest reservoir, Elephant Butte Reservoir, was less than 10% full.

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  • Date: 31 May 2023
  • Author: Julia Kurnik, Senior Director of Innovation Startups, WWF Markets Institute

Hallie Shoffner, a sixth generation Arkansas farmer, knows that we need to change where, and how, we grow our food. She points to climate change as the biggest threat facing farmers, and therefore our food system, today.

Between drought, fire, heat, other extreme weather events, and labor struggles, hundreds of farms are closing or will close in California, which currently dominates production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts in this country. And it’s only going to get worse. In the next few decades, rising temperatures will make places like California’s Central Valley too hot to grow many of the fruits and vegetables that are cultivated there today, and increasingly erratic weather will make a volatile industry even more volatile.

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  • Date: 01 May 2023
  • Author: Sam Wildman, Sr. Program Officer – Sustainable Protein Systems, WWF

Over the past year, I’ve been lucky to collaborate with many American Feed Industry Association and Institute for Feed Education and Research staff and members, forging the first-ever partnership between our organizations. The goal was to elevate a vision that feed and animal nutrition can be a critical lever in providing sustainable solutions to food systems.

World Wildlife Fund’s mission is to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. That includes making sure there is enough food for a growing population, while protecting our planet’s critical natural resources like water, forests, and clean air. The feed industry, with its global influence, has unique potential to help build that sustainable future.

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  • Date: 26 April 2023

At least 35% of all food in the US is left behind in fields or goes to waste, while millions of Americans face food insecurity. Businesses, government agencies, funders, and many others are already taking huge strides to address this challenge. But a patchwork of initiatives, no matter how impressive or innovative, will never be enough to make the rapid and dramatic reductions in food waste required to sustain ourselves and our planet. We cannot solve this problem without ambitious leadership and action on the federal level and across all 50 states. This is where the Zero Food Waste Coalition comes in.

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  • Date: 26 April 2023
  • Author: Alex Nichols-Vinueza, Program Manager, Food Loss and Waste; Leigh Prezkop, Senior Program Officer, Food Loss and Waste

Organizations are increasingly working to reduce food loss and waste (FLW) across the food supply chain in support of their commitments to address food insecurity and climate change. That work often starts with donating or composting excess food to keep it out of landfills (where food waste emits methane). While this downstream work is incredibly important, the overwhelming majority of the food system’s environmental impacts occur upstream at the farm level, and the larger challenge is how buyers and growers can more closely coordinate to reduce FLW in a way that utilizes more of what we already grow and shrinks the footprint of agriculture.

In nature, nothing is wasted, and by mimicking this approach, we can develop more circular pathways that use surplus food along the supply chain to first feed those in need, and then develop new sales channels for growers to justify harvesting more of their crop, feed animals, and fertilize their crops—all helping to reduce our natural resource use and impact on biodiversity in the process.

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  • Date: 25 April 2023
  • Author: Alex Nichols-Vinueza, Program Manager, Food Loss and Waste; Leigh Prezkop, Senior Program Officer, Food Loss and Waste

Thus far, the regenerative agriculture movement and its impacts on land rehabilitation have held little consensus. Many broadly reduce this farming approach to practices like no-till, crop rotations, and cover cropping with the simple purpose of reducing chemical and fertilizer inputs. Others underscore the movement's role in reorienting our production philosophies to emphasize reciprocal relationships with the environment and our food systems. For World Wildlife Fund, regenerative agriculture is centered on being deforestation and conversion free, rebuilding soil health, protecting water ecosystems, and supporting biodiversity, food producers, and agricultural communities.

As it stands, roughly 15% of all food produced is wasted at the farm stage, according to WWF’s recent Driven to Waste report. For farmers, this has meant the immediate loss of profits and reduced productivity in farmland over time. However, regenerative agriculture has the potential to revitalize ecosystem services and help reduce on-farm food loss and waste. To date, there has been limited research into how the farming methods associated with regenerative agriculture can reduce these adverse effects – and WWF aims to fill this gap.

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