Changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are usually only one of several impacts of interest, especially in low-emission development (LED). Other environmental and social impacts may be monitored in conjunction with GHG emissions. These may be examined to assess the positive impacts of policies or projects or required as safeguards for projects to check for and minimize potential adverse environmental and social impacts.
The large-scale transformation of the agricultural sector will involve large numbers of poor countries and the rural poor in them, presenting an opportunity to reduce poverty but also potentially exacerbating social and economic inequity if new technologies and finance flow disproportionately to wealthier nations and farmers. According to the Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC, implementation of the convention should be on “the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty” and include the “safeguarding food security and ending hunger.” (UNFCCC 1/CP.21)
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a common framework for assessing developing impacts. Action to halt climate change and deal with its impacts is integral to successfully achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 13 focuses on action to combat climate change and its impacts. The goals include objectives related to equity and social justice: no poverty (SDG 1), gender equality (SDG 5), and reduced inequalities (SDG 10).
As investors, companies, and farmers face evolving policy regulations and climate-related risks to production and stability of supply chains, interest in shifting to low-carbon and resilient global food systems are increasing. Economic impacts and business cases for achieving climate change mitigation in agriculture provide evidence for economic benefits and can help incentivize action.
Social impacts related to social justice in the food system and equity of the distribution of costs and benefits, especially for vulnerable groups and women, are essential to address inequity and ensure sustainable outcomes. See the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index.
- The Rainforest Alliance is operational in more than 60 countries. The Alliance provides socio-environmental certification on sustainable forestry and agriculture and tourism.
- UTZ: A program designed to certify sustainable farming, with a focus on coffee, tea, cocoa, and hazelnuts. The program is part of the Rainforest Alliance.
- The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ (TEEB) is an initiative hosted by the UN Environment and coordinated by the TEEB Office. ‘TEEB for Agriculture & Food’ (TEEBAgriFood) brings research and capacity-building with a focus on a broad evaluation of agriculture and food systems value chains, including their most significant externalities.
- The Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) provides standards to evaluate projects addressing climate change, local communities, and smallholders’ support, and biodiversity conservation simultaneously. Usually used in conjunction with carbon project methodologies.