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Syngenta Announces Plans to Help Farmers Tackle Climate Change

By Maggie Kohn

Syngenta, one of the world’s largest agriculture companies, announced at the Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit in New York that it will spend $2 billion during the next five years to help farmers prepare for and tackle the increasing threats posed by climate change.

For Syngenta, climate action applies to its operations, too

The Switzerland-based company also announced it will work to reduce the carbon intensity of its operations by at least 50 percent by 2030 to support the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Citing recent floods in the United States, the drought in Australia, and the record-breaking summer temperatures in Europe, Erik Fyrwald, Syngenta's CEO, said during the Summit that climate change is putting enormous pressure on farmers worldwide.

“We know we have to help farmers,” Fyrwald said. “We need to identify what works. We also know we have to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that come from agriculture to make agriculture part of the solution. This is not about altruism; this is about saving our planet.”

In yesterday’s announcement, the company said funding will go toward programs with clearly differentiated benefits or breakthrough technologies that “will enable a step change in agricultural sustainability.” Investments will be prioritized in areas such as integrated pest management, continuous living cover systems, multifunctional field margins, water-use efficiency and effectiveness, and integrated crop-livestock systems.

The company plans to report progress against its targets annually. 

The investment supports Syngenta’s previously announced sustainability goal of delivering at least two technological breakthroughs to market each year to reduce agriculture’s contribution to climate change, harness its mitigation capacity, and help the food system stay within planetary boundaries.

Nature Conservancy continues its Syngenta partnership 

During yesterday’s announcement, Syngenta said it will expand its decade-long collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) . The non-governmental organization will help Syngenta develop strategies and identify and test new innovations and technology funded under the new investment.

The partners announced several projects already in development including a project in the Chaco region of Argentina that will focus on maintaining biodiversity and resilient ecosystem, and a project in China to support the health and productivity of soil in arid potato-growing regions. Other projects will be conducted in Kenya, Brazil and the United States.

TNC will also provide independent validation of the Syngenta-funded projects, measuring CO2 reduction, water usage and land productivity measures.

“Achieving conservation at scale will require bold action from the private sector,” said Sally Jewell, CEO at TNC and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior under the Obama administration. “As businesses increasingly recognize the risks of climate change and the benefits of sustainability, we welcome the opportunity to contribute our science and expertise to help transform business practices.”

For Fyrwald, success is clear: “I won’t be satisfied with progress [against climate change] until we see CO2 levels drop significantly. Today, we are not there yet.”

Image credit: Christ De Wit/Unsplash

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Maggie Kohn is excited to be a contributor to Triple Pundit to illustrate how business can achieve positive change in the world while supporting long-term growth. Maggie worked for more than 20 years at the biopharma giant Merck & Co., Inc., leading corporate responsibility and social business initiatives. She currently writes, speaks and consults on corporate responsibility and social impact when she is not busy fostering kittens for her local animal shelter. Click here to learn more.

Read more stories by Maggie Kohn