Swiss sustainability consultancy Quantis has launched a two-year project, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, to develop a commodity monitoring tool that, for the first time ever, will determine the spatially-sensitive geo-footprint of major commodities by converging Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) datasets with spatial data from geographic information systems (GIS) – an innovation that could significantly improve the sustainablility of commodity supply chains around the globe.
Until now, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the leading decision-making support tool for environmental management of agricultural commodities, has relied on data from average meteorological and ecological conditions at country scale. However, most agricultural practices are highly context-specific and largely determined by micro-spatial parameters such as soil properties, precipitation and slope.
The GeoFootprint Project will deliver comprehensive location-based data via a publicly available web platform to foster more effective measurement, monitoring and management of local sustainable agricultural practice.
A combination of granular spatial information on local soil properties, precipitation and slope with data on land use change, carbon and water will give users a more comprehensive understanding of agricultural impacts.
For many companies in the agrifood, cosmetic and apparel sectors, future growth depends on the continued availability and quality of crop production. With information on things like carbon, water and land use change, users should have a holistic understanding of farm-level impacts and be better positioned to replicate value added sustainability practices.
The GeoFootprint Project will drastically improve the value companies derive from the data they collect. Enhanced visibility of on-the-ground impacts will allow companies to accurately and efficiently manage their supply chains, track the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives, deploy clear actions and foster greater collaboration across the value chain, creating a stronger link between field-level changes and decisions at the strategic level.
The project will also democratise access to climate risk information about land use and agriculture in order to scale its impact. A significant portion of the data and the web platform’s overwriting function will be made public so everyone from multinationals to smallholders can engage in the sector’s decarbonisation.
Jürgen Reinhard, PhD, Senior Sustainability Consultant at Quantis Zürich said: “The capability to explicitly consider the spatial context (or spatial data) in LCA calculations offers a radically more efficient and more accurate way to assess farm-level cultivation practices and their corresponding mitigation potential.”
For more information on the project and partners see here