On September 15, 36 leading agri-business companies launched the Global Agri-business Alliance (GAA) in Singapore. Their aim is to collectively tackle the major environmental and social challenges facing agricultural supply chains and rural communities across the world.
Announced at the Building Sustainable Futures Forum sponsored by Olam International, the newly-formed GAA is a CEO-led private sector initiative seeking to contribute significantly to the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, most notably SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Launch member companies span continents and commodities
The companies already involved are headquartered across the world with representation from Africa, Asia, Australia, USA and South America and are involved in multiple commodities including grains, dairy, edible nuts, edible oils, pulses, rubber, sugar, as well as agro-chemicals. (*Please refer to the Appendix for the list of GAA members as at launch date, as well as quotes from company management for reporting.)
Unique and substantial role
The GAA is unique in bringing together the companies operating closest to the ‘farmgate’ and therefore having the greatest influence on the stewardship of natural resources and surrounding communities, many of whom may also be employed by the sector. Member profile includes growers and producers; traders; fertiliser, agro-chemical and seed suppliers; agri-service providers, primary processors and agri-tech suppliers for both food and non-food crops.
David Nabarro, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, said: “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will change our world: eradicating poverty, tackling climate change and ensuring a prosperous, safe and healthy future for our children and grandchildren.
“The SDGs also represent investment opportunities for responsible businesses, and are essential for sustainable economic growth. Achieving the SDGs will only be possible with the full commitment of the business community, transforming their business models to deliver also social and environmental value, and working in partnership with the public sector and civil society.
“The launch of the Global Agri-business Alliance is excellent news for the SDGs”.
While many agri-companies already collaborate with non-governmental organisations, technical implementers, consumer brands and retailers, the members of the GAA will harness their collective strengths at the ‘front-line’ of agricultural production to help bring the scale and impact required to drive major change.
Members will collaborate to improve rural livelihoods and working conditions, mitigate climate risks and manage natural capital sustainably at the landscape-level. This powerful combination will greatly improve food and nutrition security globally. In turn this will also support the delivery of SDG 1 – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, and a member of the SDG Advocacy Group, said: “The Global Agri-business Alliance is a major step in aligning this critical sector behind the Sustainable Development Goals. We know the SDGs cannot be achieved without business and we must all go beyond our own individual supply chains towards broader sector wide and value chain approaches. The alliance can catalyse likeminded businesses and collaborate with other business platforms to deliver the positive impact the world needs.”
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Chair, Business and Sustainable Development Commission commented: “Agri-business is most clearly linked to SDGs related to reducing hunger and ending poverty, but it is also critical to protecting livelihoods, achieving gender equality and fulfilling education. The companies of the Global Agri-business Alliance understand that their sector must help achieve sustainable development, but they also recognise the SDGs represent a tremendous business opportunity. We at the Business Commission look forward to working with the GAA and its member companies to seize these opportunities and create a more inclusive, sustainable world.”
In providing food and raw materials, the agricultural sector employs more than 2 billion people globally, is a foundation for rural development, and underpins many economies in terms of share of GDP and employment.
Yet, the FAO currently estimates that of the 795 million undernourished people, about 50% are from smallholder farming communities, surviving off marginal lands prone to natural disasters including drought or flood. At the same time, agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawal and generates 12% of all manmade greenhouse gases – or up to 25% if forestry and other land use are included. The sector’s ability to boost productivity, minimise food losses and reduce impacts on natural resources is critical to food security and inclusive growth for a world population projected to rise from about 7.3 billion to 8.5 billion in 2030.
 Please refer to the Appendix for key facts pertaining to SDG 2
 2016, 18 August. Goal 1: No poverty. Retrieved from http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sdgoverview/post-2015-development-agenda/goal-1.html
 2016, 18 August. Creating a Sustainable Food Future: Interim Findings. Retrieved from http://www.wri.org/publication/creating-sustainable-food-future-interim-findings
 Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States. (2015). The State of Food Insecurity in the World
 2016, 18 August. Water uses. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/water_use/index.stm
 Intergovernmental Plan on Climate Change. (2014). Climate Change 2014 – Mitigation of Climate Change. 5) IPCC Working Group III AR5 (2014) Chapter 11. Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU), Available online: www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_ chapter11.pdf (Last accessed 09/04/2015)