The UN Global Compact – Long-Term Business Principles – Debated by European Companies

Written by | Monday, February 17th, 2014

The publication of a set of principles to foster corporate responsibility in the agricultural sector is currently being prepared by the UN. It is based on the theory that long-term food security depends on businesses taking more seriously their role in the global food system. To that end, Brussels’ political debates since the 2007-2008 world food price crisis have increasingly focused on the sustainability of global food systems. Moreover, the world has to deal with the challenge of feeding a global population that is expected to rise to a projected 7-9 billion people by 2050. These challenges, coupled with rising food waste and high obesity levels in Europe, have led UN and EU officials to seek a change in global agriculture systems.
Many European companies have joined the global compact, because they seem to understand that social responsibility ensures their survival over the long-term. For example, Yara, a Norwegian agri-business, sees the interest of the private sector in the processes and exercises which have been developed by the Global Compact as their willingness to contribute to the challenge of feeding the mankind by 2050, with the right means to guarantee food supplies of high quality.
The UN Global Compact, the international organisation’s business initiative, has drafted six food and agriculture principles following a series of consultations in 2013 with businesses and other food security ‘stakeholders’, such as academics, civil society, and policymakers. The main objective of the draft Food and Agriculture Business Principles (FABs) is to provide a ‘holistic’ solution to these challenges, while facilitating the adoption of more sustainable food systems in the developing world. Commenting on the significance of the UN Global Compact, Gerda Verburg, the chair of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security, pointed out that “if we look to sustainability, we have to be aware that it has something to do with climate and environment and social responsibility. Sometimes one of two is forgotten.”

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