Fixing the Business of Food Initiative

Realizing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) comes with several challenges and despite many efforts taken by the industry, companies, investors and citizens. There are still a number of hurdles companies face in classifying whether an investment is sustainable or not. This is mainly due to  the lack of a comprehensive framework, which leaves companies without clear guidance on how to support the SDG achievement and insufficient reporting on their sustainability performance.

The Fixing the Business of Food Initiative raises awareness about the major challenges and opportunities for the food sector and identifies effective sustainability pathways towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. In 2019, the initiative presented a Four Pillar Framework to facilitate the alignment of the food and agriculture sector with the SDGs.  

The report titled ‘Fixing the Business of Food’, realized by the Barilla Foundation, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, the Santa Chiara Lab - University of Siena, presents the deeper embedding of this conceptual framework. With special emphasis on companies in the food and agriculture sector, the framework aims at providing a tool for businesses of all sectors to align with the Sustainable Development Goals. Not only does the report assess the current sustainability reporting standards against this new Four Pillar Framework, but also explores how available reporting instruments support SDG alignment. The Framework for Corporate SDG Alignment consists of four pillars, which were developed based on research and consultation with diverse stakeholders, and will be refined in the years to follow:  

1. Beneficial Products and Strategies: This pillar addresses the impact of products, services, and strategies and the companies’ contribution to healthy and sustainable dietary patterns. It recognizes the direct influence of marketing and consuming products on individuals’ health and well-being. To improve both planetary and human health, the shift towards more sustainable and healthier diets needs to take place.

2. Sustainable Business Operations and Internal Processes: This pillar considers the environmental and social impacts of business operations and their responsibility to implement socially and environmentally sustainable practices across their entire operations. The pillar expands beyond the minimum requirements of doing no harm and addresses how food businesses can further actively contribute to the achievement of SDGs. Examples include through a commitment to high animal welfare standards, explicit integration of diversity, monitoring of internal processes, as well as robust and accurate disclosure of human and labor rights.

3. Sustainable Supply and Value Chains: This pillar reflects on the role and responsibility of companies for the broader ecosystem beyond their direct and outsourced operations. It describes how a company can contribute to positive social and environmental impacts on a broader scale. For example, through collective efforts to help farmers producing agricultural commodities, by collecting and disclosing SDG-related data throughout a company’s value chain, setting robust requirements of first-tier and below first-tier suppliers, and taking proactive efforts to ensure fair prices and income support for farmers.

4. Good Corporate Citizenship: This pillar refers to the companies’ external actions and strategies within the communities where they operate and the rules that govern them. Local initiatives that promote the realization of the Agenda 2030 and partnerships with local actors and stakeholders are essential to advance policymaking, resource mobilization, and the rule of law. (Source: Fixing the Business of Food Initiative)

To read the extensive report, please click here.

Sources: Report on Fixing the Business of Food and the Article on Fixing the business of food: How to align the agri-food sector with the SDGs

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