“As highlighted at COP15, global agriculture faces urgent and unprecedented environmental, societal, and economic challenges with issues that are integrated, but hard to measure. Governments, policy makers and brands have a greater responsibility to support farmers if we are to ensure agriculture is fit for the future. Advancing technology and innovation’s accessibility is key to delivering insights and incentives that drive more resilient and regenerative practices. The Global Farm Metric has the unique ability to harmonise the way we measure risk and opportunities and produce greater collaboration across supply chains and industry.”
Simon Davis, Sustainable Agriculture Lead at Anthesis
The Global Farm Metric, a common framework to measure the state of farming systems globally, is being used to develop a digital data collection and assessment platform that will play a crucial role in measuring and sharing the sustainability of farming and food production. Through a partnership between the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) and NatWest Group (NWG) – Anthesis, the world’s largest group of dedicated sustainability experts, has been chosen to develop this platform, bringing their industry-leading expertise and technology offerings into the partnership.
Underpinned by the Sustainable Food Trust’s mission to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food and farming systems, the Global Farm Metric framework has been developed since 2016, driven by a coalition of over 100 stakeholders including farmers, consultants, researchers, educators, environmental groups, certifiers, food companies, financial services and government agencies. NatWest in particular bring expert insight from the financial sector and recognise the value of the framework to solve problems for multiple stakeholders as well as their own; enabling the bank to better understand the impact of its agriculture portfolio.
“With almost half of the world’s habitable land now farmed, much of our biodiversity, climate and future health depends on the transition to more sustainable and regenerative food and farming systems – but this is not happening fast enough. Slowing us down is confusion amongst the food and farming community about the agricultural practices which really deliver positive outcomes and the lack of a strong business case for change. If we all use the same framework to evaluate and monitor the sustainability impacts on land use, in conjunction with a holistic assessment that recognises the interconnectedness of farming systems with nature and community, we will give farmers the tools in which to drive the solution and key actors, including the finance and investment community, the evidence needed to support this.”
Patrick Holden, CEO & Founder of the Sustainable Food Trust
The Global Farm Metric framework is designed to align existing metrics in the food and farming industry around a holistic view of farm-level sustainability. Farmer-focused and outcome based, it is led by scientific evidence and verified by farmers and researchers. Its mission is to enable the creation of a common language for sustainability that drives collective action for nature, climate and health while reducing duplication of data and effort for farmers. The framework takes a “whole system” approach to sustainability, including farming outputs, the farming system, and the natural systems supporting the farm, including climate, water, and soil.
The framework is being used to underpin an innovative digital data collection solution by sustainability firm Anthesis, that is practical, user-friendly, and inclusive. It can be integrated by other assessment and farm management platforms working in the sustainability space to facilitate the collection of GFM data and the use of a common framework across the supply chain.
Users will be able to access the digital solution directly or via its application programming interface (API) integrated into pre-existing tools. When permission is given by the farmer, the relevant data can then be easily shared with their supply chain, easing the reporting burden and duplication of data entry. In time, the API’s integration will enable actionable insights to help users visualise their data and analyse performance against peers, offering customisable benchmarks to better understand, measure and monitor social, economic and environmental outcomes.
“As one of the leading banks supporting agriculture businesses in the UK and a founding partner of the Global Farm Metric, it’s great news that this next step with Anthesis is being taken. The tech innovator will work with the Sustainable Food Trust to ensure that the open-source platform can support multiple sustainability data requests, improving transparency and delivering meaningful insights to farmers. NatWest will continue to bring expert insights from the financial sector to support the development of the Global Farm Metric.”
James Close, Head of Climate Change at NatWest Group
Trials of the first iteration of the digital solution will begin in Summer 2023, with further updates to be released over the next 2 years. The scalable, digital tool will be made available to farmers nationally and, in due course, internationally, at no cost, with revenue generated through stakeholder subscription fees.
The Global Farm Metric platform is the latest digital solution to be designed and developed by global sustainability firm Anthesis following the recent launch of Anthesis Digital, the firm’s hub for climate-related technology and digital learning capabilities, with Anthesis’s global team of sustainable agri-food experts also providing guidance on the framework’s evolution from its initial manual structure.
Sustainable Food Trust
The mission of the Sustainable Food Trust is to accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems, inspired by our philosophy of the interconnectedness of the health of soil, plants, animals and people. Our vision is for future food and farming systems which nourish the health of people and planet and are equitable and accessible to all.
Initiated by the Sustainable Food Trust in 2020, the Global Farm Metric is a framework that enables farmers to understand the social, economic and environmental sustainability of their system in a way that is robust, holistic and independent of any particular farming philosophy. Click here to get involved
NatWest serves customers in England and Wales, supporting them with their personal, private, and business banking needs. NatWest helps customers at all stages in their lives, from opening student accounts, to buying their first home, setting up a business, and saving for retirement. Alongside a wide range of banking services, NatWest offers businesses specialist sector knowledge in areas such as agriculture and technology, as well as access to specialist entrepreneurial support.