Australian SDGs Hub for Business


Food security is a growing global risk. The world will need to produce at least 50% more food to feed 9 billion people by 2050.1 At the same time, the global food and agriculture system is both contributing to, and threatened by, climate change and the degradation of natural resources.

In 2017, famine across four countries (South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Northern Nigeria) has put 20 million people at risk of starvation.2 The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that around 800 million people worldwide, mostly the rural poor from developing countries, are chronically undernourished. Some 2 billion people suffer some form of micronutrient deficiency and 160 million children are stunting.3 It is malnutrition that causes almost half of the deaths in children under five (3.1 million children each year).4

Hunger is not just an issue in developing countries. In Australia, around 2 million people rely on food relief each year, half of them children. This is approximately one in every ten Australians.5

A key component of Goal 2 is agricultural productivity and sustainable food production systems. The challenge for world agriculture is to become more productive and more resilient in order to tackle the interconnected challenges of poverty, hunger and climate change.

In Australia, agriculture is an important component of the Australian economy and the sector produces enough food to feed 80 million people including providing 93% of domestic food supply.6 As the world’s driest inhabited continent, and facing the consequences of climate change, ensuring sustainable food production systems is a challenge for Australia.


How is this relevant to business?

As well as the moral imperative of addressing hunger and ensuring a sustainable food and agriculture system, food security is also a significant risk to business, including through direct impacts to supply chains, but also in a broader sense to political and market stability.

Food security and sustainable agriculture are of direct relevance to the food and agriculture sector, which accounts for a massive component of the global economy – but through food, fuel and fibre, it is also part of the value chain for many other sectors. It is also key to economic development.

“In food – the way it is grown, produced, consumed, traded, transported, stored and marketed – lies the fundamental connection between people and the planet, and the path to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.” (FAO, 2015)


What can business do?

Business can negatively impact on food security and sustainable agriculture in a range of ways (e.g. by distributing unsafe food products; causing damage to arable land; not respecting resource and land rights; through financing and investment decisions).

Business is also a critical partner in helping achieve food security and sustainable agriculture, through designing and delivering effective, scalable and practical solutions. Every actor along the agriculture supply chain, including farmers, producers, traders, retailers, investors and consumers has a critical role to play to establish sustainable food systems that advance food security, protect the environment and ensure economic opportunity.7

At a minimum, business is expected to act responsibly by mitigating any negative impacts. Business is also encouraged to find opportunities for positive impact. A few examples follow.


The UN Global Compact’s Food and Agriculture Business (FAB) Principles provide business with a voluntary framework to advance the positive impact they can have in the food and agriculture space and engage in principle-based collaboration with the UN, governments, civil society and other stakeholders.


Act Responsibly

  • Embed the Food and Agriculture Business Principles in your business
  • Ensure environmentally-responsible practices to preserve and enhance ecosystems, and use natural resources efficiently and optimally
  • Source sustainably to ensure every provider in the supply chain meets economic, environmental and social standards, including respect for human rights (this applies to businesses at all points of the food and agriculture supply chain)
  • Minimise waste in the food and agriculture value chain
  • Ensure good governance and accountability (e.g. respect land and natural resource rights, fight corruption, be transparency about activities and impacts)

Find Opportunity

  • Identify ways to improve food access and nutrition, including of employees, consumers and the broader community
  • Support initiatives that are tackling food waste
  • Create inclusive business models, and explore ways of integrating local suppliers, farmers and cooperatives into the supply chain
  • Build new markets to encourage economic growth through open trade, supported by governments
  • Improve access to financial institutions in rural areas (e.g. to enable investment and reduce risks associated with food production)
  • Improve access to information and communication technologies in rural areas (e.g. to provide market information and access)
  • Invest in rural infrastructure
  • Contribute to the reduction of commodity price volatility and its impacts (e.g. through constructive policy dialogue and investment; supporting safety nets)
  • Partner with governments, NGOs and others to align activities and investments with development priorities (e.g. engage with DFAT)
  • Engage responsibly and productively in public policy (e.g. in relation to issues of good governance, trade, environmental policies, infrastructure)
  • Promote the development of and access to information, knowledge, skills and technologies for more sustainable food and agricultural systems
  • Join the Zero Hunger Challenge


Links between Goal 1 and the UN Global Compact’s ten principles

Human Rights & Labour (UN Global Compact Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

The right to food is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as a key component of an adequate standard of living. The food and agriculture sector also impacts human rights in a range of other ways, including around issues of land and resource access and the rights and welfare of workers (including migrant workers, child workers and women).

Environment (UN Global Compact Principles 7, 8, 9)

The global food and agriculture system both contributes to, and is threatened by, environmental issues such as climate change and the degradation of natural resources.

Anti-Corruption (UN Global Compact Principle 10)

Corruption is a key obstacle to sustainable development, and can impact on food security in a number of ways. It can undermine rights to land and natural resources, the enforcement of responsible natural resource management and divert food from those who need it most.

1 World Bank (2015),

2 Oxfam International (2017),

3 Food and Agriculture Organization (2017),

4 Food and Agriculture Organization (2015),

5 Foodbank Australia (2017),

6 Peter J Batt (2015),

7 UN Global Compact (2016),


By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round

By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons

By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment

By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality

By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed

Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries

Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round

Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility



Food and Agriculture Business Principles (UN Global Compact) are a set of voluntary principles which can provide a framework for principles-based collaboration between business, governments, civil society, the UN and other stakeholders, and support food and agriculture connected businesses to align with the SDGs.

Principles for Sustainable Soil Management (UN Global Compact) are a set of voluntary principles which can help to advance the positive contribution business can make to soil health.

Food Sustainability – A Guide to Private Sector Action (UN Global Compact) is a guide featuring 37 examples of good practices in seven areas relating to food sustainability, with suggestions on how businesses and governments can contribute.

Scaling up Global Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture (UN Global Compact) report presents the most salient and urgent issues facing the private sector and showcases best emerging practices.

Food Sustainability – A guide to Private Sector Action (UN Global Compact) includes practical ideas and examples of how business can contribute.

In Australia, The Hunger Project, Foodbank and SecondBite provide business the opportunity to engage with the issues of food relief and food insecurity.

Danone’s practical guidelines on change management and the development of more sustainable agriculture.

The Impact Measurement Framework (Initiative for Global Development) provides a practical, business-oriented approach to impact measurement. Designed with direct input from businesses, sector-specific measurement frameworks help companies map potential (or actual) impacts to key business drivers and performance metrics.

The Impact Reporting & Investment Standards (IRIS) (Global Impact Investing Network) is a free catalogue of generally-accepted performance metrics used by leading impact investors to measure social, environmental, and financial success, evaluate deals and grow credibility.

For more goal-related tools, go to the Inventory of Business Tools webpage on the SDG Compass website. Businesses can explore and find commonly used tools when assessing their impact on SDGs.