Food and Agriculture

With the world’s population predicted to grow to 9 billion by 2050, the demands on agricultural and food systems will continue to increase. Agriculture currently occupies one-third of the earth’s land surface and is at the nexus of climate change, food and energy security, sustainable livelihoods, economic development and human rights.

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” There is no simple definition of sustainable agriculture, but components include sustainable sourcing, environmental responsibility (including land and water management), ensuring respect for human rights, supporting health and nutrition, effectively using knowledge and technology, reducing commodity price volatility and good governance and accountability.

Many business, government, and civil society leaders are already working together to tackle difficult issues around food security and sustainable agriculture, but the challenge now is to co-ordinate and scale these efforts to create a broader movement of all relevant stakeholders towards a future without hunger. Every participant in the food and agriculture value chain, including farmers, traders, retailers, investors and consumers, has a role to play in protecting the environment, ensuring economic opportunity and improving food security. The food and agriculture sector has a critical and leading role to play in delivering practical, effective and scalable solutions to meet the global challenges of food security and sustainable agriculture by better incorporating smallholder farmers into their supply chains, while also supporting and investing in rural development initiatives that will enhance the health, education and infrastructure of poor communities.

New Food & Agriculture Business Principles launched

In September 2014, the UN Global Compact launched a set of voluntary Food and Agriculture Business Principles (FAB Principles) to advance the positive impacts that business can have in relation to food security and sustainable agriculture. The FAB Principles:

  • articulate a common understanding and agreement on the resources, ecosystem services and socio-economic impacts needed to build resilience into agricultural supply systems and the markets that they serve;
  • support the objectives of relevant UN agencies by offering a basis for responsible businesses to align to the goals of the UN as articulated in the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want; and
  • provide a framework for furthering good practices, and for developing effective private and public sector policies and partnerships.

Download the FAB Principles here

The FAB Principles were developed in response to the need for a common understanding between existing standards and industry initiatives. Today, global thinking on what constitutes sustainable agriculture remains fragmented. Existing schemes, including certification standards, are not designed to address global agricultural challenges in a holistic fashion and often are not inclusive of the majority of the world’s small farmers. By defining broadly accepted business principles and building upon progress made, the FAB Principles fill gaps between crop-specific initiatives developed and led by industry and government.

The Global Compact Network Australia conducted in-person consultations on the initial draft Principles (previously called the draft Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles). A summary of the feedback gathered in that process is available here

For more information on  the FAB Principles, see the UN Global Compact website

Learn more

The Global Compact Network Australia runs forums and workshops to help businesses understand issues around food security and what actions they can take to promote sustainable food production. See what’s coming up in our Events calendar and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date.


Scaling up global food security and sus agriculture