A national sustainability index for the agri-food sector would help
demonstrate Canada’s rightful place as a leader of sustainable, safe and responsibly-produced food to a more demanding domestic and global marketplace and be a catalyst to add value sector-wide, declares a report released today by a diverse group of twenty-two private and public partners.
Worldwide, benchmarking agriculture and food practices against a host of environmental, social and health priorities is becoming essential to operate and compete, as well as to meet global sustainable development and net-zero emissions goals. Canada has the opportunity to build on its existing metrics to develop a more integrated picture of its sustainability and quality credentials from farm to retail. The report Benchmarking Canada’s Agri-Food Sustainability Leadership – a Roadmap addresses this gap and outlines a blueprint to create such an index, a Canadian first.
Development by stakeholders
The index would be comprised of selected indicators spanning the environment, health and food safety, well-being and economic viability. Development would be co-led by producers and companies in
collaboration with non-industry and government stakeholders. The index intends to link-up with sectoral benchmarking initiatives and Canada’s statistics-gathering capacity. It will also need to be informed by Canada’s sustainability commitments and by global requirements and metrics.
Benchmarking performance would portray the sector’s strengths to consumers, supply chain customers, regulators and investors. (Canada’s agricultural environmental footprint is among the lowest in the world.) Being science-based and externally validated, the index will also be expected to show areas for improvement and shortcomings. The need for a national and consistent picture of sustainability is pressing, the report emphasizes.