How a World Economic Forum platform builds partnerships that can drive the future of agribusiness

How a World Economic Forum platform builds partnerships that can drive the future of agribusiness

©World Economic Forum
How a World Economic Forum platform builds partnerships that can drive the future of agribusiness
Lisa Dreier

Senior Director,
Food Security and Development Initiatives,
World Economic Forum (WEF) USA

Senior Strategist,
Agribusiness & Forestry, Investment Services, IFC

What is the “New Vision for Agriculture?”

The New Vision for Agriculture (NVA) is a global initiative of the World Economic Forum which began in 2009 and has developed quickly to become a dynamic platform for catalyzing and supporting partnerships in the agriculture sector. NVA aims to bring together the public and private sectors in a more coordinated way to develop agriculture in a more sustainable, inclusive and productive manner. The initiative was prompted by our stakeholders’ recognition that the world was not on track to face the enormous challenge of sustainably feeding 9 billion people by 2050.

What do you offer that is different?

We work with leaders of all sectors and regions, so that we can help put critical items on the agenda and facilitate commitment and action at a high level. We can help to bring the private sector to the table as a constructive partner in helping address some of these issues. The fact that we are a neutral and informal platform means that we can offer a “safe space” for open discussion about common challenges and obstacles.

What has been your approach?

Market based approaches can be an important tool to achieving our vision and implementing these approaches often requires collaboration between different stakeholders. The private sector has enormous capacity to develop and efficiently scale innovative business models – especially in the developing world –and can deliver real benefits in terms of farmers’ incomes and market access; sustainability and productivity.

How far have you come?

We are now working with 14 different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, anchoring efforts around each country’s vision for its agricultural sector. We serve as a platform to facilitate co-investment and collaboration between key stakeholders including the government, private sector, farmers associations, donor and international agencies, and civil society. To date, this activity has generated over $5.7 billion in private sector investment commitments, of which about $100 million has been implemented on the ground so far, benefiting over a million farmers.

What would you say to someone who might think “shouldn’t big companies already be addressing these challenges?”

When we started this work, many companies were already  undertaking their own sustainability initiatives. But there are real limitations to what one single company – or even the entire private sector — can do. What’s needed is coordinated, collective action among all stakeholders to achieve shared goals.

What has been the greatest challenge thus far for the NVA? What keeps you awake at night?

Building trust can be a challenge — often we are convening stakeholders who are not accustomed to working together and, in some cases, may have a history of conflict or distrust. But once they realize they share the same over-arching goal and start working together, the dynamic changes rapidly. I think what keeps us all awake at night is the magnitude of the change that’s needed in the global food system.

Where do you go from here?

There are two really exciting efforts that we will be announcing in 2014. Following the rapid development of the Grow Africa partnership, which the NVA catalyzed together with the African Union and NEPAD, our partners in South East Asia said, ‘Why don’t we do that here?’ We’re delighted to say that a new regional platform called Grow Asia will be launched later this year.

The other effort is our Transformation Leaders Network, a community of senior practitioners and partnership leaders from all regions and stakeholder sectors who will be exchanging best practices and experiences. All of these partnership approaches are very new — there’s no preexisting roadmap or recipe for success — so everyone is inventing and innovating as they go along. By learning from each other’s successes and failures we can help speed the progress of the whole network that shares this common agenda.

New Vision for Agriculture reports/documents include:

150-New-Vision 2014 overview brochure:
New Vision for Agriculture

150-Achieving-New-Vision2013 report:
Achieving the New Vision for Agriculture: New Models for Action

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