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Future proofing our food and fibre value chains

Landscape for truck on road and stormy sky. Photo credit: iStock.

The impacts of climate change are felt along the whole chain of actors that produce, handle, process and market agri-food products. Our work aims to help agri-food companies to systematically identify, assess, prioritise and act against risks and to seize opportunities that extreme weather and a changing climate might offer to their chains using a value chain approach.

A holistic and systematic evaluation of the risks that climate change poses, both direct and indirect, is crucial for adaptation planning. Understanding the complexity of interactions between biophysical, social and economic drivers in the context of climate change enables businesses within a value chain to have line of sight of indirect, but impactful, effects. It also enables businesses, from farming all the way to retailing,
to begin to understand their ‘tipping points’ better – where the impacts of multiple events along the value chain result to one or multiple stages of the chain unable to recover or remain competitive.

Approaching adaptation using a value chain lens then means that a stronger focus on sustainable competitive advantage is required, in addition to mitigating risks. Adaptation takes sustainable competitive advantage a step further by also taking advantage of opportunities, in a changing competitive and physical environment. For Australian agriculture, this means looking beyond the farming system level and understanding what consumers truly value, harnessing strengths from value chain partners, and working within a changing physical, social and policy environment.

Adaptive Value Chains

Climate change will continue to influence the quality, quantity and availability of food produced across the globe. Understanding how it will impact the value chain — from inputs to consumers — could assist businesses to make decisions to address these impacts. The Adaptive Value Chains project is aimed at developing this understanding.

The Adaptive Value Chains project was led by CSIRO and carried out in close collaboration with the University of Queensland and the University of Tasmania, supported by funding from the Australian Government. The project has led to the development of Climate Chains, a self-assessment tool for value chains,  as well as a suite of case studies for industry. Test Climate Chains and download resources on the Adaptive Value Chains website.

The Value Chain Analytics Platform: Raising the bar for sustainable value chains

CSIRO is embarking on a major initiative to develop metrics, models and analytics to support the development and growth of sustainable value chains – chains that are resilient, competitive, equitable and low-impact. Bringing together a diverse group of scientists from Agriculture and Food, Data61, Health and Biosecurity, and Land and Water, the Platform integrates social science, operations research, data analytics, management sciences and domain expertise to address the grand challenges of our food system.

Contact Lilly Lim-Camacho for more information.