Cheap food is often very expensive
- Alexander Müller
Agriculture is a major driver of biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and human-driven climate change. Most food systems today neither provide sustainable livelihoods nor sufficient and healthy diets. At TMG, we recognise the urgent need to transform our food systems to support the resilience of our ecosystems, ensure equitable access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, and provide secure livelihoods for farmers.
Drawing on in-depth scientific knowledge, and our long-standing experience in the governance of food systems, we advise and shape agricultural policy reforms at national and regional level. In partnership with leading food producers and financial institutions in Europe, we seek to build broad alliances to co-design economic and financial systems that account for the harmful environmental and social costs of current food systems, opening up avenues for their transformation.

Topics

True Cost Accounting in Agri-food Systems

True Cost Accounting in Agri-food Systems

Developing integrated accounting standards for the food and farming sector

Standard accounting and economic evaluation systems do not take full account of all four capitals − produced, natural, social and human − that are involved in the production, processing, marketing and consumption of food, and related services. This means that businesses and other actors are often not held liable for the negative externalities of their activities. Instead, the costs are often borne by society, and the environment. Examples include paying more for clean water due to the cost of removing pesticides from water sources, or higher prices for food due to reduced harvests from poorly managed soils.
Some costs, such as environmental degradation, extinct species, or climate change, are often deferred to future generations, or borne by local communities and regions far removed from the source of the problem. Unsustainable food systems can therefore be attributed, in large part, to the failure of current economic systems and accounting standards to redress such injustices by pursuing “the polluter pays” and other approaches to internalise these non-financial costs. 
This body of work seeks to contribute to the emergence of integrated valuation frameworks at both the level of individual businesses, as well as the overarching public policies, regulatory frameworks, and monitoring and reporting systems, that govern the agri-food sector.

News

Counting the Hidden Costs of Food Adds Up to Real Progress
News

Counting the Hidden Costs of Food Adds Up to Real Progress

TMG director co-publishes opinion piece in Newsweek
Transformation: does the term still have value?
Blog Post

Transformation: does the term still have value?

TMG think piece series
True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation
Publication

True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation

A new report by TMG staff identifies six case studies around the world which highlight the positive impacts of True Cost Accounting on food systems
Hungry for Change: The Politics of Food in South Africa
News

Hungry for Change: The Politics of Food in South Africa

TMG partners Heinrich Böll Foundation, Cape Town launch a new platform for conversations about food systems in South Africa
Power Poverty Hunger - Food System Facts 2021
Publication

Power Poverty Hunger - Food System Facts 2021

TMG and the Heinrich Boell Foundation release a booklet offering pathways to create sustainable, just and healthy food systems.
Website Launch: True Cost – From Costs to Benefits in Food and Farming
News

Website Launch: True Cost – From Costs to Benefits in Food and Farming

TMG and partners launch a new website promoting the True Cost Initiative

Events

Publications

True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation

Report

True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation

TMG, Global Alliance for the Future of Food

Commissioned by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, this report identifies the positive impacts of True Cost Accounting on different aspects of global food systems

Social Capital in the Food Sector: A Brief for True Cost Accounting Considerations

Info Brief

Social Capital in the Food Sector: A Brief for True Cost Accounting Considerations

Olivia Riemer, Alexander Müller, Sebastian Hanss-Mirodone

The Brief provides an overview of the concept of social capital, how it is linked to food- and farming-related businesses, and why it determines business failure and success.

True Cost Accounting: Inventory Report

Report

True Cost Accounting: Inventory Report

Tobias Bandel, Maximiliano Cortes Sotomayor, Benjamin Kayatz, Alexander Müller, Olivia Riemer, Gyde Wollesen

This research is commissioned by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and is conducted by Soil & More Impacts and TMG Thinktank for Sustainability.

Beware the politics: Leveraging foreign policy for SDG implementation

Working Paper

Beware the politics: Leveraging foreign policy for SDG implementation

Daria Ivleva, Alexander Müller, Benjamin Pohl

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015 marked a high point for international multilateral cooperation. With its 17 goals and 169 targets, the implementation process for the SDGs may appear an essentially technocratic exercise.

True Cost – From Costs to Benefits in Food and Farming project 2-pager

Brochure

True Cost – From Costs to Benefits in Food and Farming project 2-pager

TMG Research gGmbH

True Cost - From Costs to Benefits in Food and Farming is an initiative of various market leaders in the food and farming sector who, in cooperation with EY, want to develop, pilot and implement integrated reporting guidelines for the food and farming.

 Measuring what matters in agriculture and food systems

Report

Measuring what matters in agriculture and food systems

Alexander Müller, Patrick Holden, Peter May, Kathleen Merrigan, Danielle Nierenberg, Walter Pengue, Jules Pretty, Maryam Rahmanian, Ruth Richardson, Pavan Sukhde, Abdou Tenkouano

Synthesis of the results and recommendations of TEEB for Agriculture and Food’s Scientific and Economic Foundations Report.

Agriculture, Extension & Extension Coordination

Working Paper

Agriculture, Extension & Extension Coordination

Chrisantus Mang‘oli, Vincent Okoth, Johnston Imbira, Pamela Mang‘oli, David Mbaya, Leonard Haggai, Serah Kiragu-Wissler

The critical role that the agricultural sector plays in providing food security, reducing poverty and creating employment for the Kenyan population is undisputed.

 TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations

Report

TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations

Alexander Müller, Patrick Holden, Peter May, Kathleen Merrigan, Danielle Nierenberg, Walter Pengue, Jules Pretty, Maryam Rahmanian, Ruth Richardson, Pavan Sukhde, Abdou Tenkouano

This ‘Scientifc and Economic Foundations’ report addresses the core theoretical issues and controversies underpinning the evaluation of the nexus between the agri-food sector, biodiversity and ecosystem services and externalities.

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TMG Think Tank for Sustainability consists of TMG Research gGmbH, an independent, non-partisan, non-for-profit organisation registered in Berlin (District Court Charlottenburg, HRB 186018 B, USt.-ID: DE311653675) and TMG - Töpfer Müller Gaßner GmbH, a private company registered in Berlin (District Court Charlottenburg, HRB 186018 Bm USt.-ID: DE311653675).

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