The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) have helped by providing a high-level blueprint for the development of the agricultural sector (including SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 13 – Climate Action, and SDG 14 and SDG 15 – Life Below Water and Life on Land). By providing detailed information in each area, and highlighting linkages between them, there is improved understanding of what a better and more sustainable future for all could look like, and more sharing of new developments and best practices in the sector.4
For the countries covered by this report, a transition to more sustainable agricultural practices could help to address some of the existing challenges in the region. These are significant, some as a result of geography, some due to human development. Water scarcity, climate change, and land issues have played a significant historic role in determining what and where it is possible to produce food, whilst urbanisation and a growing dependence on food imports have further shaped the local sector. None of these are sustainable in the long term.
There is an opportunity to address this. By focusing simultaneously on the economic benefits to the country and improving the environmental resilience of agricultural practices, stakeholders in agribusinesses can further develop and strengthen local supply chains and meet the expectations of consumers. The technology exists and some early promising case studies in the region are appearing. What is needed now is more holistic engagement on the challenges and opportunities by stakeholders across the region and aligned support for the application and scale up of profitable, carbon-neutral agricultural practices.