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UN Sustainable Development Goals - Goal 2

28 June 2018


 

In September 2015, the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". Known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 169 targets which make up the 17 goals provide a framework for countries to guide their path towards a more sustainable future. Ethical Screening is investigating how companies can contribute to The Goals. This blogpost focuses on Goal 2 - Zero Hunger.

What is Goal 2?

Goal 2 - Zero Hunger focuses on ending world hunger and malnutrition through increased food security and sustainable agriculture systems. The challenges of achieving Goal 2 are more imminent than ever. With the world population expected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, it is essential to meet this increase with enough safe, nutritious and sufficient food for the global population. The targets for The Goals aim to end hunger across all people, although there is a particular emphasis on providing access of food and nutrition to the most vulnerable, such as infants, adolescent girls, pregnant women and elderly people (2.1, 2.2). The promotion of sustainable agriculture lies with targets 2.3 - doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, and 2.4 - implementing resilient agricultural practices in response to climate change and extreme weather conditions.

How can companies contribute to Goal 2?

The sector holding the most prominence in tackling food security lies with food producers, as they can establish systems and policies to mitigate risks at each level of the business. Ethical Screening looks for a number of KPI's for this sector, including avoiding land grabbing activities (particularly when it involves the displacement of indigenous communities), initiatives to purchase sustainable alternatives to products like palm oil and soy, and programmes in place to avoid food waste.

Kerry Group, for example, is contributing to target 2.3 by working with its supplier in Madagascar to train farmers to produce better quality vanilla beans and increasing their yield and income. Meanwhile Mondelez International procures 75% of West European biscuits from Harmony Wheat, a programme that uses sound environmental practices and promotes diversity while employing innovative practices to optimise pesticide and fertiliser use.

Reductions in food waste are essential to address the gap between the food produced and the rising population. Companies that are helping close this gap include Morrisons, who aim to sell the vast majority of what farmers produce through its 'wonky fruit & veg' range. Unilever and Greencore are also involved in various initiatives to tackle food waste. Interestingly, such initiatives also directly benefit Goal 12 - target 12.3 aims at halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels. This highlights the interdependence of the SDGs, as acting on target 12.3 will simultaneously help to achieve targets 2.1 and 2.2.

Companies providing financial services can contribute towards Goal 2 as well, namely through the investment in rural development to help smaller-scale farmers lacking resources to respond to technological change by becoming more self-sustainable and efficient in their agricultural practices. Rabobank supports developing societies by providing farmers with the access to financial services along with the support of capital, management services and technical assistance. In addition, the company's digital platform, Global Farmers, assists farmers in staying up to date with knowledge on innovation and technology and other industry insights. Giving access to such services that smallholders might otherwise lack is one of the ways the UN suggests towards achieving zero hunger.

Why is Goal 2 important?

Companies responding to Goal 2 will have a profound impact on lives, as zero hunger will enable people to improve their livelihoods through quality education (Goal 4), good health (Goal 3) and gender equality (Goal 5). This will then help the process of eliminating poverty (Goal 1). Resilient agricultural systems are also essential in responding to the impacts caused by climate change, and in this sense connects to Goal 13, Climate Action. Increasing changes in weather (particularly extreme weather conditions), leads to damage on farmers' crop supply, having a knock on effect on the entire food chain. On the reverse side, according to Feedback, approximately 10% of developed countries GHG emissions come from food that is never eaten. The reduction in food waste, then, will inevitably lead to a reduction in GHG emissions.

Conclusions

Ending world hunger and malnutrition is more dependent on companies’ actions than may be first expected. The countries that are most affected by the issues seem distant to most western countries, however it is the changes we make to systems such as food production and distribution that will play a large part. Cooperation amongst world businesses and governments is needed to ensure zero hunger can be realised by 2030. The social benefits from engaging with the subject are clear; but increased investment will increase productivity and help economies recover, particularly within developing countries.

Charlotte Ball - Researcher

29/06/2018


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