TMG Think Tank for Sustainability

True Cost Accounting discussion at COP 27

Exploring how TCA can provide a coordinated and holistic response to the multiples crises we are facing

True Cost Accounting discussion at COP 27

Last Tuesday, in collaboration with WWF, the TCA Accelerator and the Global Alliance for the future of food, TMG conveyed a range of experts to discuss how True Cost Accounting (TCA) approaches can be applied to tackle specific agri-food challenges.

Kicking off the discussion, TMG Managing Director Alexander Müller reminded participants that achieving the SDGs and climate goals will not be possible without food systems transformations. Suggesting to use an integrated approach able to look at all the hidden costs of food, he stressed the importance of increased political will to finance such food systems transformations. Ahmed Amdihu, from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), focused the discussion on food security in the Horn of Africa. Making the link between desert locust campaigns and TCA, he showed how accounting for the true costs of these campaigns is important in order to galvanize investments in outbreak prevention and early action.

Moving over to the global level, Joao Compari (WWF International) reminded participants that while we are producing food for more than 10 billion people, around 10% of the world population is experiencing chronic hunger. Hence, more efforts at UN level need to be deployed at the levels of food systems to prevent food waste and link diets to sustainable food systems. With a presentation on sustainable food procurement, Roy Steiner (the Rockefeller Foundation) informed the participants that procurement processes are based on old assumptions and archaic rules, resulting in distorted and unsustainable assessments from important institutional buyers.

Bringing the government into the discussion, Kathleen Merrigan explored ways to embed TCA in governmental processes. She suggested framing TCA as an improved, modern version of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) rather than introduce it as something novel and hence unfamiliar to policymakers. Ulrike Eberle (corsus corporate sustainability) showed how life-cycle assessments (LCA) can complement TCA as a tool in enabling transformations towards more sustainable food systems. Finally, Ulf Jaeckel (German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV)) raised the challenges of applying TCA in the practice of governments and highlighted the importance of creating an enabling environment for increasing the political will to do so.

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