Global Centre for Technology, Innovation
and Sustainable Development

Sustainable and digital agriculture

The Future of Food and sustainable agriculture are top priorities for Singapore. In early 2019 Singapore unveiled its bold ‘30 by 30’ vision, a target for local producers to meet 30% of the nation’s nutritional needs by 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, land-scarce Singapore will greatly accelerate research and development as well as investments into agritech, ranging from digital agriculture to plant proteins and cell-based meats. Already many of the world’s leading food and nutrition companies have their Asia-Pacific HQs in Singapore. The Government has made it clear it plans for Singapore to be a sustainable food hub.


The problem we are solving

The world is expected to feed approximately 9.8 billion people in 2050 and meeting that demand would require an increase in food production levels by about 70%. The effects of climate change puts a further strain on our ever-depleting natural resources, increasing the vulnerability of resource-dependent agricultural sector. Agriculture accounts for around 1/4 of global greenhouse gas emissions and 68% of global freshwater withdrawals and consumption. Despite the progress made by developing countries to increase food production and yields, meeting the 2030 agenda is daunting.

 Even though the world has the ability to produce sufficient food to feed the planet, this might not be true in the future. The goal of sustainable agriculture is to meet society’s present food demands without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. 

Therefore, the sustainability of global food production will depend on changing behavior of production and consumption, and our ability to introduce new and innovative technologies that will boost production, but ensure sustainability of the food value chain.

Farmer holding a tablet smart arm robot harvest work agricultural machinery technology


Our key initiatives

Our key initiatives are focused on leveraging technologies to address the global food challenge. They include finding and transferring agri-tech solutions to developing countries in UNDP's network of offices, advising and guiding policymakers and governments on technology applications for food traceability and precision agriculture, and working with ecosystem players to bring awareness to trends and developments in the agri-food sector and drive our initiatives.

Find out more about each initiative below.

In November 2019, we launched the Cultiv@te programme, a global innovation initiative that aims to find bright minds and creative entrepreneurs, startups and R&D teams from around the world to solve challenges in agriculture.

▶️ Watch a short clip of the programme:

After a call for applications over 15 weeks, we selected 31 teams to work with 11 countries to pilot these technologies and innovations on the ground.

Read more about these 31 solutions here:

We're now connecting the teams to the UNDP field offices and other local stakeholders that they work with, including governments, research agencies, and other international organisations. We're planning to pilot these solutions in 2021 and eventually scale them to impact the lives of farmers and help achieve the SDGs.

Blockchain for food traceability is gaining momentum in the agri-food sector globally. Yet, there is little understanding among ecosystem stakeholders and governments about what blockchain is, how it works and how it can be applied to the supply chain. Our aim is to make this information accessible and easy to understand for all.

To achieve this, we are designing a case study and concept note that will explain how blockchain technologies work and its benefits to food traceability for different actors in the supply chain. This will include a guide explaining how blockchain can be applied to the food value chain, including examples and case studies where its application has been successful.

We believe that blockchain technology will be transformational for a more efficient and transparent food system and can significantly contribute to international trade, improve food safety and protect the rights of producers and consumers around the world.

Read the summary of the document here.

The farms of today are increasingly becoming digitalised. Digital farms are often said to have improved profitability and sustainability, but how much these technologies can help assist smallholder farmers and whether they are economically viable are unanswered.

Digital farming broadly encompasses technologies to assist producers in farming, most commonly also known as precision agriculture technologies. We intend to design a report that will demonstrate the utility and viability of adopting digital farming technologies (focused on precision agriculture). This report will include detailed analyses of these technologies, their applications, outcomes and impact and feasibility of use.

Through this document, we hope to provide governments and policymakers with a detailed breakdown of quantifiable benefits of various digital farming technologies, and inform them of the best methods through which these technologies should be transferred and applied.

The Digital Feed 🌱, in partnership with SGInnovate, is a multi-episode series which will feature developments and trends across various stages of food value chains — from food production and supply to consumption and food science.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be updated on the latest episodes. For more information about the series and each episode, visit our page here.

The podcast version of these episodes are also available on Spotify. Listen to the latest episode here ⬇️


How you can partner

Here at the UNDP Global Centre, we're always looking for partners that share our mission and who want to be a part of this global effort to drive the SDGs. 

Reach out to us if you're interested in partnering with us on any of these initiatives. We're looking for partners to support or fund pilots, test out technologies for piloting, speak at our interview series, and more.

Want to start a conversation?

If you have enquiries, comments and feedback on our focus areas or would like to partner with the Global Centre please get in touch.