Principles and Metrics Taskforce

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Taskforce on Principles and Metrics for Innovation in Sustainable Agri-Food Systems

A huge increase in investment in innovation in agricultural systems will be a critical factor for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement. Most of this increase needs to come from reorienting existing funding for innovation. However, a major challenge for both implementers and investors in innovation is deciding whether an investment in innovation ‘counts’ as likely to promote sustainable agri-food systems (SAS) or not. A way forward is to establish a clear set of principles for innovations and innovation processes that promote SAS, together with guidance and metrics supporting those principles. These can be used to plan, guide, and monitor progress against SAS objectives. 

CoSAI has established a voluntary Taskforce on Principles and Metrics, working with the USAID-funded Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab at Kansas State University, and other partners to develop and agree a set of principles and metrics to guide and track innovation in SAI. The Taskforce will bring together some key users of principles and metrics, including:

  • Public and private funders of innovation in agri-food systems who need to ensure that their funds are appropriately used to support their sustainability goals.
  • Managers and implementers of R4D and innovation programs, both public and private, who need to plan their work against SAS objectives.
  • Certification and benchmarking organizations for the private sector, as well as civil society organizations, who are interested in holding public and private innovators to account and directing investment towards more sustainable and socially-positive and equitable innovations.

The main outputs of the Taskforce are expected to be:

  • A focussed set of principles for innovation for SAS, which address innovation in policies, social institutions, and finance, as well as science and technology.
  • Guidance and metrics to support the implementation of the principles.
  • Agreement of a group of volunteer users to pilot, improve and take forward the guidance and metrics (this piloting activity will continue beyond the end of the Taskforce).
  • Recommendations on further work required, including major gaps in available metrics for further investment.
  • A suitable institutional home and process to take this forward from 2022.

The Taskforce will operate over the period of May to November 2021. It will be supported by a small Expert Group that will develop proposals for the Taskforce to discuss and make recommendations, as well as a wider Advisory Panel. The Taskforce will be spearheaded by the co-chairs Dr Preet Lidder (FAO, Technical Advisor) and Professor P.V. Vara Prasad (SAI Innovation Lab, Kansas State University). The Expert Group assisting the Taskforce will be led by Dr. Monika Zurek (ECI, University of Oxford).