The Challenge

Many sustainability standards and public-sector initiatives exist to help agricultural commodity farmers adopt more sustainable practices. Each initiative has its own way of collecting data, and monitoring and reporting progress. This makes comparison of performance across sectors challenging. There is currently no clear view of how the sector as a whole is contributing to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As these initiatives and schemes increasingly focus on SDG reporting towards 2030, producers are investing more time and money in collecting all the information required for each scheme, for little reward. Adopting one consistent approach would help to overcome the data collection burden. However, there are distinct challenges involved for sustainability standard organisations in harmonising their monitoring and reporting practices.

In order to create a truly transparent and credible framework and a universal way for stakeholders to use the data, it’s important to ensure that the complex and diverse needs of all stakeholders are met. Additionally, providing accurate real-time information at scale creates additional pressures for standard holders.

The Delta Project Approach

The Delta Framework project will focus on producing a clear, consistent way to measure and report the progress of farms participating in individual sustainable commodity certification schemes.

Funded by the ISEAL Innovation Fund, the project will see major sustainability standard organisations collaborating to create a common framework (or language) for sustainability performance monitoring and SDG reporting across diverse agricultural sectors, starting with cotton and coffee. The founding organisations are the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the Global Coffee Platform (GCP), the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) and the International Coffee Association (ICO).

The result will be a harmonised approach to sustainability performance reporting, designed to support business, governments and not-for-profit actors alike in quantifying and communicating their progress towards the SDGs. It will also provide an opportunity to develop cross-sector services to respond to producers’ collective challenges, while reducing their reporting burden and providing a greater incentive to monitor progress.

The Delta Framework

The Delta Framework will feature a common set of environmental, social, and economic indicators to measure sustainability across the cotton and coffee commodity sectors. The Framework will be accompanied by guidance material to help ensure companies and governments can use the information effectively.

The project will also provide examples of best practice, together with tools and information to encourage stakeholders to adopt and use the framework, and recommendations on how companies can communicate sustainability information to their customers.

Who Benefits?

The Delta Framework will provide a standardised way for commodity sectors to collect, monitor and report progress on sustainability, enabling a shared view of results across sectors while helping to create a common language for sustainability in agriculture. This will benefit all stakeholders, including farmers, service providers, retailers, governments, donors, NGOs and researchers. Meanwhile, gaining more in-depth insights of challenges and opportunities across sectors will help to improve the quality of the support and services farmers receive in the future, including better financing terms and more robust government policies. Find out more below.

Producers and Smallholder Farmers

Learn more from your data – We will provide feedback to help you gain clearer insights on the impact of your practices and better understanding of your performance, within the context of your sector.

Added value through open data – With one consistent way to measure farm performance, you’ll be able to assess your progress compared to regional or country averages, and learn from best practice to make better decisions.

Better services – Equipped with more information on cross-sector challenges, sustainability standard holders will be able to encourage improved services, help expand access to finance, and advocate for more supportive agricultural policies.

Governments and Public Sector

Comprehensive overview of your sectors – A common way to measure sustainability progress across commodities will deliver valuable, comprehensive information on challenges and performance at both local and national levels.

Outcome-oriented measurement – The Delta Framework goes beyond measuring the adoption of sustainable practices to provide insights into how these practices are delivering positive outcomes and impact on the ground.

Standardised and comparable reporting – With one harmonised framework to understand the progress of agricultural commodities towards the SDGs, you will gain access to more robust, credible information for use in your own SDG reporting.

Increased positive impact of your policy decisions – Drawing on a strong base of evidence on sustainability performance within agricultural commodities will help inform your policy-making decisions. Ultimately, this will lead to enhanced, targeted agricultural policies and services, and a thriving agricultural commodity sector.

Private Sector

Save costs – Brands and retailers and their suppliers – With one set of requirements for data collection across supply chains, you won’t need to invest as much funding in capturing data.

Show impact – Brands and retailers and their suppliers – You’ll be able to quantify your sustainability impact, adding credibility to your sustainable manufacturing and sourcing claims.

SDG contribution – Brands and retailers – As stakeholders require more information on your contribution towards the SDGs, you’ll be ahead of the curve in responding to growing reporting requirements, offering greater transparency on the impact of your products and supply chains.

Improve investment efficiency – Brands and retailers, their suppliers and service providers – A robust, consolidated set of information on sustainability performance across commodities will enable you to better target capacity-building efforts.

Questions? Ideas?

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