Food safety and sustainability

Overview of issues

There is an urgent need for a food system that will sustain the world’s people both now and for future generations. It is widely cited that agricultural production will need to increase 70% to feed the global population of 9 billion expected by 2050. Moreover, as a result of unfair trade, production and distribution practices, today’s food system fails to provide equitable access to nutrition for nearly one in seven people. The situation is exacerbated by the impact of climate change, which has produced increased flooding, more frequent and enduring droughts and pollution. How businesses respond to these growing pressures on our world’s food supply will determine whether hunger and poverty are eradicated or soar to new heights.

Commercial agriculture accounted for over 70% of tropical deforestation, half of which was illegal. Deforestation has attracted significant attention from civil society, business and governments, accounting for over 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to biodiversity loss, soil erosion, disrupted rainfall patterns, community land conflicts and forced labor. Consumers are increasingly demanding that businesses become more responsible and transparent, rewarding those they perceive to be good environmental stewards and corporate citizens. The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), first endorsed at the United Nations Climate Summit in September 2014, is a voluntary and non-binding international declaration to take action to halt global deforestation by 2030. It has over 190 endorsers including governments, multi-national companies, indigenous communities, and NGOs. CDP’s 2016 Forest Program included 365 institutional investors with assets of US$22 trillion asking companies to disclose how they are managing the direct and indirect risks posed by deforestation.

SGI’s engagement

SGI members have engaged particularly around the issues of sustainable agriculture (e.g. deforestation), access to nutrition, and food wastes. Members have been engaged with food manufacturers and retailers on palm oil and other commodities that drive supply chain deforestation impacts. They have engaged fast food companies on access to nutrition and childhood obesity. They are starting to discuss food wastes with manufacturers, wholesale distributors and retailers.

SGI shareholder resolutions

Resources