Creating a sustainable food and agricultural system is one of the most critical challenges that we face. The world needs to embark on a major transition to build a sustainable future. We have the technical capacity and the technology to do so, but we are lacking the collaborative mindset and set of values required for this transformation. To create a common future for humanity and the living planet, we must embrace the complexity of pursuing systemic changes, and move beyond a focus on the ‘what’ of change and get better at the ‘how’ of change.

The paradox is that systemic change involves transformation ‘en masse’, but within that mass population individual practitioners must be equipped with the skills and approaches that will enable them to change as individuals in support of the wider change.  

Two years after global and regional leaders met in Lima and the Peruvian Amazon, the 2021 edition of the Good Growth Conference succeeded in bringing together over a hundred changemakers across the supply chain once again. This time virtually.

The Good Growth Conference is a biannual event that aims to take practitioners to the frontiers of agriculture and deforestation. But with travel restrictions still in place and many countries still suffering the rippling effects of a global pandemic, the team behind this one-of-a-kind gathering managed to redesign the idea of a ‘journey’. This year, changemakers in the Green Commodities Community embarked on an interactive virtual learning experience with select trainings from top-tier organisations to create systems change for sustainable commodity supply chains.  

Over three days from May 24 to 26, the participants in the Good Growth Conference 2021 learned about System, Community, and Individual Transformation for Sustainable Commodity Supply Chains.

‘The training sessions were an engaging opportunity to exchange views with others who are thinking about how to bring systems practice into their own work’, says Kristin Komives, Director of Programmes at Evidensia, ISEAL Alliance, about her participation in the trainings.  

With every day focused on trainings for each of the three approaches to systems change -system, community and individual-, the Conference offered participants the opportunity to choose and join between different many sessions, all adapted to different time zones.   

“I especially enjoyed the training on Collaborative Partnerships: Working with Power and Conflict with Elise Willer and David Siebel. It was unique in its offering: it provided me with not only the theory behind conflict management but practical tools to navigate complex and highly charged situations to reach a mutually beneficial solution. In our work, which often involves managing complex stakeholder initiatives, these tools are invaluable to approaching our work in a constructive and empathetic manner”, says Lara Yacob, Programme Manager for the Good Growth Partnership at UN Environment and Environmental, Social and Governance Integration Expert.  

The three open High-Level Conversations in the Good Growth Conference were another example of virtually bringing together changemakers across the supply chain -from different countries and different regions- to share and reflect together on what is needed to sustainably transform commodity supply chains. Over the first two sessions, participants had the chance to listen to government representatives, executives from multinational companies and farmers representatives from Paraguay, Brazil, Indonesia and Liberia talk openly about potential solutions and lessons learned on beef, soy and palm oil sustainable production.   

In the Grand Finale, top representatives from the Good Growth Partnership discussed how the Integrated Supply Chain Approach can help achieve Systems Change. Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, was the first but not the only one to make a firm call to action to go 'from defense to offense' in dealing with climate change and in stepping up efforts to connect ministries around a climate goal. He reminisced about his time as Minister of Environment and Energy in Costa Rica – and spoke from the perspective of a passionate football fan.

‘I am from Costa Rica, and when I watch the national football team playing it gets to my nerves to see we are playing in a very conservative way – playing defense. This is what we are doing here as well, we are playing defense, whereas we need to move from defense to offense and be very proactive, very aggressive by using the science and the knowledge and the institutions to change the systems from the top down’, he said.

‘It is very clear to me that with the Good Growth Partnership we start a new phase’, he concluded. ‘I look forward to engage and for the GEF to continue supporting this alliance, with its vision and the many very positive lessons learned that we have gone in the last four years.’

During the last two days of the Good Growth Conference, the changemakers behind the Good Growth Partnership participated in two workshops to collectively reflect about lessons learned of four years of working together, and to build the design seeds of the next phase.  

Co-designed and convened by the Good Growth Partnership with funding from the Global Environment Facility and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic affairs to inspire new understandings and foster meaningful global connections, this inspiring event equips delegates with the network and tools needed to influence the way we produce, finance and demand agricultural commodities.  

Visit the Good Growth Partnership website to learn more: https://goodgrowthpartnership.com/good-growth-conference-2021/

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