Toward a Just Transition In An Age of AgTech

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Globally and in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs), a food systems transformation is underway. This transformation is being driven in part by socioeconomic, climatic and other trends, as well as a range of societal aspirations – notably those of nourishing the planet while decarbonizing the economy and remaining within planetary boundaries. In this context, a resurgence of interest in technology-based solutions and the possible acceleration of technological change raise the question of how technological change may affect the inclusiveness of the food systems transformation.  

Mechanization and digitization have the potential to be hugely beneficial for LMIC farmers addressing their key farm management, risk management, market access or income constraints. Concerns that the application of such technologies in LMIC agriculture will lead to highly inequitable outcomes do not appear to be supported by the available evidence, at least not in many parts of Asia and Africa. That said, technology adoption is not without risk, and both mechanization and digitization can have unintended consequences that warrant efforts to prevent or mitigate them.  

This paper aims to provide a framework for businesses to think about how the technological dimensions of food systems transformation can facilitate better work conditions within the sector, enabling fit-for-future jobs, adequate supply, livelihood-resilience and prosperity – in line with the Business Commission to Tackle Inequality’s (BCTI) just transition principle to act “in line with science to address the climate emergency and restore nature, while leveraging these transformations to advance shared prosperity.” 

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