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Supply Chain
New Tool Keeps Sky-High Eye on Sustainable Agriculture’s geoFootprint

The multi-stakeholder geoFootprint initiative, led by Quantis, allows businesses to assess risks posed by changes in climate, water availability and quality, soil health and biodiversity to secure supply chains and the future of food.

Today, sustainability consulting firm Quantis launched geoFootprint — the first tool to use satellite imagery to visualize the environmental impact of crops on an interactive world map for smarter, science-driven decision-making.

geoFootprint was built collaboratively with more than 25 public, private and academic partners — including organizations such as International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD); and food industry heavyweights General Mills, Mars, Nestlé Research, Unilever and more — aiming to accelerate sustainable agriculture. With its global overview of crop footprints, geoFootprint closes the gap between the action needed to make agriculture more sustainable, and the knowledge required to pursue it.

Agriculture is responsible for more than 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a significant contributor to climate change. To tackle the environmental crisis, companies need a clear picture of the impact of their sourcing decisions. Globalized supply chains make this a complex challenge: Crops are traded globally, but their footprints are calculated locally. How and where a crop is grown changes the size of its environmental footprint.

Xavier Bengoa, geoFootprint project lead and a senior consultant at Quantis, says:

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“While agriculture is one of the largest contributors to the climate and biodiversity crisis, it also represents one of the most high-potential solutions. geoFootprint enables companies to reduce the environmental footprint of crops in their supply chains through providing insights thatuntil nowhave been nearly impossible to capture. It fills a giant knowledge gap that will allow us to accelerate the sustainable transformation of agriculture.”

geoFootprint combines satellite imagery data with more than 20 environmental metrics to visualize the environmental footprints of 15 key commodity crops — barley, cotton, maize, oil palm, peanut, potato, rapeseed, rice, rye, sorghum, soybean, sugar beet, sugarcane, sunflower and wheat — on an interactive world map, delivering granular data that yields sharper insights for strategic decision-making.

Previously difficult questions about the environmental impacts of crops can now be resolved in a matter of minutes — users can now assess risks posed by changes in climate, water availability and quality, soil health and biodiversity to secure supply chains and the future of food. By understanding a crop’s geography-specific footprint, users can now identify what contributes to it and run simulations to see which interventions would have the most positive environmental impacts on their supply chain.

“geoFootprint promises to fulfill a valuable need for companies to better understand and ultimately to reduce their carbon footprints,” says Laura Overton, Sustainability Accounting Senior Manager at Mars. “The potential of the tool lies in combining spatially detailed agricultural impacts with location-specific sourcing data.”

Learn more about geoFootprint here.