Goal 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Soils, freshwater, oceans, forests and biodiversity are being degraded, and climate change is putting further pressure on resources. Done properly, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all, support rural development, and protect the environment. Significant changes are needed to feed the current population and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050.
What is Goal 2?
UN Sustainable development Goal 2 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.
Why is Goal 2 important?
Responses 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, can lead to crop damage and knock-on effects 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.
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.
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.
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