SDG #2: How can your organisation help achieve zero hunger?
Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series
On January 1st, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into force. Over the next 15 years, with these 17 goals, countries will combine efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. In this article we aim to familiarize you with SDG Goal #2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and what actions your organisation can take to achieve this goal.
By Linda van den Breul | 13-07-2017
SDG Goal #2 is a commitment to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. This is not only related to achieving food security and improved nutrition, but also related to sustainable and productive agriculture.
The second SDG interconnects with many other SDGs. For example, ending hunger also leads to ending poverty (SDG Goal #1). Research shows that countries may lose 2-3% percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of iron, iodine, and zinc deficiencies. Therefore investments in malnutrition could yield enormous benefits in improved earnings and healthcare spending. In addition, there is a strong connection between ensuring availability and sustainable management of water (SDG Goal #6), taking action to combat climate change (SDG Goal #13) and zero hunger (SDG Goal #2). Solutions for these problems, such as sustainable farming and increasing agri-technology could kill two birds with one stone. This blog will show that many companies, also with no direct business in the countries affected most, can contribute to achieving this goal.
Eradicating hunger and malnutrition could be directly beneficial to your company. In addition, your company could have a bigger impact on the problem than you might initially expect.
In our previous blog we discussed the direct benefits for companies when adhering to the SDGs. On the one hand it can attract talent and create internal support, while on the other hand business and future markets can also be created. In addition, we already see direct benefits for Western companies committing to eradicating hunger and malnutrition. Consumers today are more prepared to pay for products that are committed (directly or indirectly) to one or several of the SDGs .
When faced with the different SDGs, we see that companies tend to focus on SDGs they have the most direct impact on, such as energy efficiency. These priorities are in contrast to what consumers see as the most important global challenges, where hunger is a top-5 priority . Although the problems around hunger and malnutrition seems local and far away, we can all contribute, also if your business is not active in developing markets.
Examples of sources of hunger are food price inflation, land rights and ownership, increasing emphasis on export-oriented agriculture, drought, war, over-fishing and low crop yields. Companies from various sectors have an impact on these sources and can therefore improve the situation. Below are specific examples of actions that businesses can take in order to contribute to the realisation of SDG Goal 2.
Prevent food price inflation and support micro-finance
Food price inflation makes nutrition unavailable for large parts of the world. It therefore makes sense for financial - and trading companies to look at their impact on food price inflation. Being aware of your impact on food price inflation, for example through soft commodity trading or other investing activities, could be a good first step. One step further, we see many (investment) banks and pension funds refrain from these kinds of investment. Another more positive approach for the financial industry is supporting micro-finance initiatives. These micro-finance initiatives can fund farmers to be self-sustainable and improve agricultural productivity and sustainability, thereby increasing food security for the local community.
Understanding your value chain
For other companies it could be useful to focus on their value chain, and primarily on proper sourcing. Understanding your value chain could shed light on the impact your company has, also if you do not have local presence. For example, emphasising on basics such as respecting local land rights could have a large positive impact on local farming and local food sustainability and security, while having a minor impact on your own business. Partnering with local farmers and others throughout the value chain improves the productivity, sustainability and viability of local farmers and communities. This subsequently contributes to achieving SDG Goal #2. Although supply chains might be large and opaque, this should not discourage companies for upholding the highest standards of sustainability in sourcing practices, enhancing traceability of input materials and demonstrating transparency in the supply chain, since its global impact is of high importance.
There are also many other examples available of companies that focus on alternative areas to eradicate hunger. Reducing food wastage is a major topic for food retailers. Walmart is now selling “ugly” food and is working to obtain 100% of suppliers’ harvest, which increases competition across the industry by doing so. Companies that are completely unrelated to the food industry are contributing as well. For example, US game developer Zynga contributes by giving gamers the possibility to buy in-game gadgets that support the United Nations’ World Food Program.
Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series
This blog is part of the Sustainable Development Blog Series: a blog series that highlights the 17 SDGs one by one on a biweekly basis. In these blogs you will find more information about each SDG, why it is important for your organisation to contribute to the achievement of it, and specific examples of how you can do that.
For more information about the Sustainable Development Goals and what your organisation can do to contribute, please contact Anne Huibrechtse-Truijens via firstname.lastname@example.org / +31882882071