Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

Looking back on 2021

After a challenging 2020 filled with lockdowns and cancellations of in-person meetings as well as travel restrictions, we looked forward to a better year in 2021 and we were not disappointed! As we adjusted to a new normal filled with hybrid meetings or new travel requirements, we also welcomed all the exciting projects, conferences and achievements. Here are a few highlights:


Work started in earnest for the Digital Agriculture Association with regularized calls focusing on the workstreams of the year including the UN Food Systems Summit and the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture. Currently, we have ten sterling members namely Bayer, Connect Agri, DPOLL, FMC, Hello Tractor, Rabobank, Raven Industries, Richardson International, Telus Agriculture, and Trimble. Members had the opportunity to promote and highlight the importance of innovation, technology and digital applications in the agricultural sector all year long which led to the proposal of the Democratization of Digital Agriculture project during the Food Systems Summit.

Sight and Life seeks to initiate Food Systems Innovation Hubs (FSIH) in rapidly emerging consumer markets, such as India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Kenya to stimulate investment in resilient and responsive food systems, and facilitate relevant technology transfer and know-how from High Income Countries to Low-Middle Income Countries. Through partnerships, government collaboration, impact investors, philanthropies in the context of local entrepreneurs, the hubs will catalyze a transformative change for society-wide dietary shifts towards more efficient, healthier, and more environmentally friendly food systems. This initiative was launched through a virtual workshop in January.

CFS47 was held in February with a delegation of 60 business leaders and participants registered from 29 countries. After several rounds of nutrition negotiations, the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition were finally endorsed. The content of the guidelines reflects a more balanced output, recognizing a scientific and evidence-based, a stronger policy coherence, and a clear acknowledgment that all sectors and actors have an important role to play, including the Private Sector. Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) members, led by Solutions from the Land, Global Dairy Platform, and Global Farmer Network organized a Side Event under the theme “Agricultural Solutions: Forging Consensus Linked Food Security, Nutrition, Health, and Climate Challenges”, in partnership with Argentina, Australia, Netherlands, and USA. The CFS, its member states, the High-level Panel of Experts (HLPE), Private Sector and Civil Society Mechanisms and other stakeholders from research and academia also endorsed the Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and other Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that Enhance Food Security and Nutrition during the 48th session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS48) from June 3-4. CFS49 took place later in October with a delegation of 70 business leaders and participants registered from 24 countries.

The United Nations Environment Assembly also held a virtual session in order to cater to administrative and budgetary issues as matters requiring in-depth negotiations were moved to 2022. This first part of the event called UNEA 5.I hosted a number of supporting events. As the Secretariat of the Global Business Alliance for the Environment (GBA4E), which is part of the Business & Industry Major Group, the Emerging team was closely involved in the UNEA preparations and deliberations including the Global Major groups and Stakeholders Forum and the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment. We look forward to seeing what UNEA 5.2 holds in store in 2022.

The Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) has been working successfully to increase the awareness of oats internationally with Oats Everyday in Canada, Avena Canadiense in Mexico and Kanadanootsumugi in Japan. On February 24, POGA along with the Government of Canada held its first virtual Webinar for the Japanese market. The webinar offered the opportunity to introduce Canadian oats and producers to Japanese merchants. During the webinar Canadian experts offered insights into the specific quality features of Canadian oats, including their production, and insights on their nutritional properties, quality, and health benefits. The event was a success with 59 guests and the audience was highly interactive during the Q&A session. POGA is looking forward to expanding their engagement with the Japanese market.


On March 4, 2021, a virtual event under the 4R Nutrient Stewardship programme was organised to discuss the economic, environmental and social benefits of proper nutrient stewardship, with a focus on the benefits for women farmers. The 4R Solution Project, supported by Canada’s fertilizer industry, is a science-based fertilizer management program that improve yields and profitability while increasing environmental sustainability. This event was graced with speakers such as H.E. Alexandra Bugailiskis, the Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the Food and Agriculture Agencies of the UN, Ambassador Eudora Hilda Quartey Koranteng, the Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Ghana to the Food and Agriculture Agencies of the UN, and Mr Clyde Graham, Executive Director of Fertilizer Canada. Speakers presented reports on the project from Ghana and Ethiopia.

From April till mid-May, Target Malaria took social media by storm through its « Young Scientists Draw the Line Against Malaria » campaign. In commemoration of World Malaria Day on April 25, and in line with the global campaign’s focus on youth, the project’s campaign sought to highlight young scientists that are part of the project and their work on innovative approaches to reduce malaria transmission. Videos and vignettes were created for 19 of the project’s Young Scientists from across partner institutions in Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Italy, Mali, Uganda and the UK. The importance of joining the malaria fight was also highlighted in three blog posts on the Target Malaria website.

The Prairie Oat Growers Association of Canada (POGA) opened submissions for its 7th Annual Oat Recipe Contest in May and held the awards ceremony a month later. The contest celebrates the health benefits and versatility of oats. This year, for the first time, the contest featured a special category for the youth. The 2nd virtual Oat Recipe Contest had Mexican cooks pouring in their submissions, creatively incorporating oats into a variety of dishes. The judging panel selected the winning recipes for their presentation, nutritional value and creativity. The event was graced by the 13 winners along with the President of POGA Jenneth Johanson and the Ambassador of Canada in Mexico H.E. Graeme C. Clark. In November, POGA commemorated World Diabetes Day with the Federación Mexicana de Diabetes (FMD) through an online cooking workshop on the Avena Canadiense Facebook page featuring three diabetes-friendly recipes from the 7th Recipe Contest. Nutritionists also discussed the role oats could play in diabetes prevention and management. The event was a huge success, reaching over 45,800 people and receiving over 8,100 views.

Following on the High-Level Food Systems Dialogue held the previous year, Emerging Ag brought together a variety of stakeholders to complement the discussions and support the activities of the CFS ahead of the Food Systems Summit through a series of High-Level Dialogues. On January 26, almost 150 gathered in a virtual High-Level Dialogue as a contribution to the Food Systems Summit action tracks cross-cutting theme of Finance. The groups recognized the importance in particular of activities to support youth and SMEs to get access to finance and de-risking mechanisms. On March 10, 145 leaders gathered in a virtual High-Level Dialogue as a contribution to the cross-cutting theme of Innovation. The groups recognized the importance of grassroots innovations, stemming from the needs of the ordinary citizen, and a desire for more “supply chain thinking” in inclusive science and technology innovation. On May 13, 129 leaders gathered in the final High-Level Dialogue as a contribution to the cross-cutting theme of Gender. The event acknowledged the need to address gender issues in a holistic manner across all areas and issues affecting women in food systems to achieve transformation. These dialogues offered opportunities for all stakeholders to formally connect into the Summit process through the official feedback mechanism.

The world commemorated World Milk Day on June 1. Once again, Emerging Ag was thrilled to work with the Global Dairy Platform in the planning and execution of the global campaign. In addition to the day’s activities, the Enjoy Dairy rally took place from May 29 – 31 to jump start the conversation and get people excited for World Milk Day. Virtual and hybrid events highlighted the themes of sustainability, nutrition, and livelihoods from all around the world. A wide variety of farmer videos from across the globe demonstrated how the sector is embracing technology to help create a sustainable future for dairy. This year’s World Milk Day celebrations were the most successful ever, reaching record numbers. The virtual celebrations saw total impressions rise to 1.38 billion, a whopping 60% increase over last year! The global campaign also experienced nearly 200,000 posts featuring #WorldMilkDay which translates to over three times the number of posts from last year’s celebrations. The full report is available on the World Milk Day website.

Emerging Ag supported the government of Kenya to organize a series of sub-national and national dialogues as part of the country’s preparation for the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021. The first Kenya Food Systems Summit Dialogue was organized on May 20 and five more sub-national dialogues followed culminating in a major national dialogue at the end of July. The dialogue series is bringing together stakeholders in the agriculture and agri-food industry in order to identify and develop national pathways towards sustainable food systems. The dialogues were a great success with many key issues discussed including the enhancement of partnerships to address food security and nutrition.

In continuation with our work with SAWBO to promote their educational videos, Emerging Ag leveraged on their network to bring together stakeholders in the food safety and agricultural sector in three African countries, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya for three virtual workshops on COVID-19 and Food Security. The workshops made educational videos translated into local languages available to the local population in order to disseminate crucial food safety information related to COVID-19. The video animation on Jerrycan bean storage was also shared to prevent post-harvest losses.

The United Nations Pre-Summit was an extraordinary feat of logistics in a hybrid format at the FAO in Rome, hosted by the government of Italy, from July 26-28. It took on diverse voices from critics to proponents to the skeptical. The program featured many actors not typical of UN meetings. They asked the world to engage, take stock, and partner on diverse commitments. The Pre-Summit laid the foundation for the Food Systems Summit in September. After almost two years of preparation, the Secretary-General convened a Food Systems Summit on September 23-24. This much anticipated Summit, saw 51,000 people tune in from 193 countries and according to the Secretary-General, over 100,000 people took part in discussions leading to the Summit. The Summit generated over 2,200 ideas and 59 solutions clusters have been identified. Additionally, to date, over 230 commitments towards Food Systems transformation have been registered in the Food Systems Summit Commitment Registry. The Secretary-General undertook to provide a progress report to the High-Level Political Forum every year until 2030 following the Summit and a review will be undertaken every two years.

AgriCorps is creating an enabling environment for school-based agricultural education systems in developing countries to reduce generational cycles of hunger and poverty. Emerging Ag held a strategy session for Agricorps to assist in updating their vision, mission and core actions and develop a path to action. In July, AgriCorps co-organised a Pre-Summit Affiliated event with AUDA-NEPAD. This Pre-Summit Affiliated Session provided an opportunity to recognize, center, and engage youth leaders and education specialists in the work of food systems transformation, provided insight on forthcoming research on school-based agricultural education in Liberia and highlighted the political support of such initiatives across sub-Saharan Africa.

In July we helped the DSI Scientific Network organize a series of regional discussions on the question of access and benefit sharing for digital sequence information (DSI), or digital DNA. This topic has dominated international policy discussions in the Convention on Biological Diversity and in other fora. The Network convened a host of experts and researchers from around the world to host four regional discussion forums to explore a possible way forward to ensure access to this important data remains open to researchers, while offering countries that are the source of this information fair benefits.

The third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group was held virtually from August 23 to September 3, 2021. This process was expected to lead to the adoption of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the UN Biodiversity Conference later in Kunming, China. The Convention on Biological Diversity’s Bureau of the Conference of the Parties in consultation with the Government of Colombia, as host of the OEWG-3, decided to convene the meeting virtually. This was an exceptional measure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Emerging Ag team followed the discussions and deliberations keenly in order to be able to provide useful advice to its clients.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress took place in Marseilles September 3 to 11, in a hybrid virtual and physical format. As part of its virtual aspects, it made available to the general public over 150 e-posters and presentations prepared by conference attendees on a myriad of issues vital to ongoing attempts to halt biodiversity loss. These included several prepared by the members of the Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research and other researchers on topics related to gene drive. After intense debate, IUCN members adopted the motion on synthetic biology, which includes gene drive technology. Language on a gene drive moratorium was excluded from the final text and the motion calls for IUCN to remain neutral on synthetic biology until the organization adopts a policy at its next Congress in 2024.

The AGRF 2021 Summit was a critical and defining moment for Africa’s agriculture to highlight and unlock many of the innovations and financial, political, and policy commitments that the continent has achieved. Moreover, it sought to advance the commitments made at the Malabo Heads of State Summit and towards the achievement of the SDGs. The hybrid event, hosted by the Kenyan government and whose program was curated by Emerging Ag for a second time, saw over 8300 participants including 150 in-person delegates in Nairobi and 4500 participants in the Deal Room. Among other exciting highlights of the summit included the various awards presented: the Africa Food Prize, the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize, and the Value4Her Women Agripreneur of the Year Award (WAYA). It was wonderful to note that despite the false perceptions on agriculture adopted by the youth, there are still some who are transforming agriculture in Africa.

At the 2021 Borlaug Dialogue Roundtable on Nutrition-Sensitive Food Systems organized by the World Food Prize Foundation, I had the privilege of moderating a discussion on how to achieve better nutrition globally. Speakers at the roundtable included Dr Naoko Yamamoto, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage – Healthier Populations, Shawn K. Baker, Chief Nutritionist for the USAID, Dr Rattan Lal, 2020 World Food Prize Laureate and a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science, 2021 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Onyaole Patience Koku of the Global Farmer Network, Mexican dairy farmer Gina Gutiérrez, Dr Lawrence Haddad, 2018 World Food Prize Laureate and Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Co-chair of Solutions from the Land A. G. Kawamura, and the President of the National Pork Producers Council, Jennifer Sorenson. The entire panel concluded that in order to address the challenge of making healthy diets available to all, especially children, we must make nutrition the core of our food systems.

Emerging continued to assist OCP to roll out an interactive and informative speaker series to share best practices and spark action on issues relating to sustainable agriculture and development in a virtual format. The series covered a wide range of topics ranging from technology, to the environment, to nutrition, to education. The first in 2021 was held in February and the last in the month of November.

The Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) engaged extensively throughout the 5-year process leading to the adoption of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN) at the 47th Plenary Session of the CFS. As the key policy guidance to address the key causes of malnutrition in all its forms, Emerging assisted PSM to conduct outreach and education activities to encourage VGFSyN uptake and integration within the Food Systems Summit process. A total of three workshops were held virtually from late October through November across three regions namely Asia, Americas, and Africa/Europe and had over 200 participants in attendance. Business leaders and CFS stakeholders participated in panel discussions to provide a greater understanding of the main principles of the VGFSyN. Regional challenges to utilizing available tools to address food insecurity were also identified, as well as the needed actions and policies to transform the food system.

Emerging Ag was contracted to facilitate the establishment of the Federation of International Hemp Organization (FIHO). Following multiple consultations with key stakeholders and actors, it was agreed that the vision of FIHO will be to raise awareness around the application of industrial hemp in diverse industries. FIHO will dedicate particular attention to establishing a globally harmonized regulatory framework for hemp and its derived products, which will lead to a well-functioning trade system and an increase in cultivation areas. In addition, the organization will help members develop and communicate shared priorities and officially represent the global hemp industry’s interests with international bodies such as the United Nations and its specialized agencies. The FIHO secretariat was registered in Canada, and on the 7th of December 2021, an interim board was constituted.

As the year comes to an end, we can’t help but look back with gratitude. As the new year approaches we keenly hope for more opportunities to serve our cherished current and future clients. It has been a fruitful year and we wish you all the best for 2022. Stay safe as you enjoy a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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