AVPN’s Deep Dive Into Asia: The Critical Role of Agri-Food in Climate

Yesterday, the Asian Ventures Philanthropy Network (AVPN) hosted its AVPN Global Conference 2022: Deep Dive into Northeast Asia Northeast Asia Virtual Gathering.

Li Peiyi, AgFood Future (AGF) Center of Excellence Vice-Chair and Executive Director of U.S.-China Agriculture and Food Partnership (AFP) under AmCham China, shared as a guest speaker on the critical role of agri-food sustainability in climate action. Ms. Li’s opening remarks addressed the current upheaval in global food systems triggered by the conflict in Ukraine, COVID-19 supply chain issues as well as the ever-growing climate crisis. These disruptions are constant reminders of the world’s need for more sustainable food systems to feed a global population that is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050.

Ms. Li stressed that the transition to a circular economy in the agri-food sector is vital to not only reduce its 34% global emissions share, but also to promote regional peace and stability through greater food security. Half of all agri-food emissions come from Asia, and China has made decisive progress toward net zero, making the region a hotspot for sustainable innovation and burgeoning opportunity for agri-food, climate, and finance players across the globe.

Reflecting on the unique opportunities the China market presents for investments and innovations in the agri-food sector, Ms. Li was able to share updates from the perspective of the AgFood Future (AGF), the Beijing-based Center of Excellence which brings investors, stakeholders, and policy makers together around the common goal of food system transformation and the low-carbon transition.

Agri-Food’s Impact

It is becoming common knowledge that the agri-food sustainability heavily impacts the SDGs, particularly:

  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health & Well-being
  • Responsible Consumption & Production
  • Climate Action
  • Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

Ms. Li centered on the reality that an increase in food security results not only in better health for the population, but on a larger scale, geopolitical stability. This work in agri-food, she noted, is pivotal to moving China forward, and beyond business as usual. China’s low carbon transition has great potential, but currently, its greenhouse gas emissions are still climbing. To truly reach net zero targets, it is critical for China to be able to move past the manufacturing and energy transition into sustainable agri-food systems.

Investment & Partnership to Reach Implementation

Key to the transition to low carbon is investment and partnership. Investment in net zero is good for the bottom line, and according to Ms. Li, for innovations to make it past the “valley of death,” that is, the critical leap from R&D to commercialization/implementation, investors must engage with other stakeholders throughout the entire process. Ms. Li stated that, as it stands, usually most interaction takes place during the investment planning stage. However, collaboration between investors and other stakeholders throughout the entire process will result in greater success and long-term impact!

AGF, as the only group actively working in all areas needed to build low carbon infrastructure in China, is making progress by distributing grants, networking across sectors for innovative pilots, and collecting data to prove environmental and socioeconomic viability to all players. To maximize impact and multiply dollars, AGF is currently facilitating top-level policy research and government engagement, as well as date modeling for the low-carbon transition.

Ms. Li shared recent achievements as examples of how AGF is building infrastructure, by:

  • Partnering with State Council Think Tank to craft China’s National Food System Transformation Strategy
  • Creating methodology to define and measure quantifiable, scientific indicators along agri-food supply chain showing impact on environment, health, economy, and food security
  • Advancing cross-sector sustainable solutions in agri-food, energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors

Indeed, China’s commitment to its goal of net zero by 2060 presents many challenges, but also incredible opportunities. And AGF’s Center of Excellence is making great strides to help move China forward and take advantage of this critical moment. Ms. Li invited all interested parties to contact AGF for more information on partnerships to advance a sustainable food future in China and beyond!

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