U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) released the report (pdf) with the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that warns that the public support mechanisms for agriculture, totaling about $540 billion annually, "are actively steering us away from achieving" the Sustainable Development Goals and the aims of the 2015 Paris agreement. It calls for "repurposing" 87% of this support, or about $470 billion, to meet global environmental and social goals.
Billions of dollars in price incentives and production-related subsidies each year "are inefficient, distort food prices, hurt people's health, degrade the environment, and are often inequitable, putting big agribusiness ahead of smallholder farmers, a large share of whom are women," the agencies explained
"Agricultural policies, while shaping what food is produced, also have impacts well beyond the farm gate," the report emphasizes, noting the effect on not only nutrition, health, equity, and efficiency but also nature and climate—due to planet-heating emissions; carbon sequestration; soil, freshwater, and forest preservation; and biodiversity loss.
"Repurposing agricultural support to shift our agri-food systems in a greener, more sustainable direction—including by rewarding good practices such as sustainable farming and climate-smart approaches—can improve both productivity and environmental outcomes," said Achim Steiner, UNDP's administrator. "It will also boost the livelihoods of the 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide—many of them women—by ensuring a more level playing field."