Mother nature is screaming for us to adopt a new diet. An agreement by nearly 200 countries could help identify flaws in how we produce food.
Nearly 200 countries have agreed to push companies to disclose their impacts on the environment. That could highlight the effects of food production.
This article is part the Insider's weekly newsletter about sustainability. It was written by Catherine Boudreau (senior sustainability reporter). Register here. Our insatiable appetites for beef, chocolate, baked goods and other sweets affect more than our waistlines. Mother Nature is calling for us to change our diets. Food production accounts for more than a third on the Earth's surface. As the world's population increases and people in developing nations earn more, so will the demand for meat. This blind-eye approach has been slowly changing under pressure from regulators and investors, as well as a global agreement made Monday at the UN biodiversity conference. Nearly two dozen countries have agreed to a number of targets, including requiring businesses to disclose and track their impacts on nature as well as promoting sustainable eating habits to consumers. Jeffrey Parrish, global managing director of Protect Oceans, Lands, and Water, The Nature Conservancy, said, "That clarion calling to corporates was an important win." Companies must shift towards zero-deforestation within their value chains. The European Union ratified earlier this month a law banning imports of beef and timber, coffee, rubber and soy that are tied to deforestation. The recent decline in forest loss in these countries of the Asia Pacific region is due to industry and government efforts. However, the world lost 10 football fields of tropical forests every minute in 2021 because of spikes in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other factors. Agriculture played an important role in both of these countries. There is much to be done before this problem becomes a top priority for the C-suite. MSCI recently examined its largest global equity index, which includes more than 3,000 companies. It found that 86% of the food industry could be contributing to deforestation. Only 18% of the companies had made a statement about a plan to address the problem. It is difficult to establish supply chain monitoring and due diligence programs for tens or thousands of suppliers. Klug stated that this task is becoming easier due to the new technology and a framework that will be available next year for companies who want to assess their risk exposure and impact on nature. Financial regulators could also use the Montreal biodiversity agreement as a guide.