How to pledge
This FAQ and guidance answers questions for companies about the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge (the Pledge) and is designed to assist companies and investment funds to fill in and understand the commitments to be made in the pledge. It should be read alongside the sample pledge. The Pledge commits companies to “align their investments with new evidence and commitments by donors, governments and global institutions, to end hunger and nourish the future.
Deciding whether to pledge
What are companies asked to do?
Companies are invited to make a financial commitment in at least one of the 10 high-impact intervention areas based on the new evidence1 and in at least one of the priority countries or regions. The company also has to name the partners it will work with to achieve the action: these could include one of the implementing organisations2 , or another international or regional organization, or the local, regional, or national government, or another civil society organization (CSO) . Finally, the pledge requires companies to comply with host state laws and regulations, and commit to internationally accepted principles, including but not limited to the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS-RAI), the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, the Principles of the UN Global Compact, and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. See “Who can sign the pledge?” for further information.
A company pledge is a non-binding statement of the company’s proposed investments plans, as detailed in the online form (available here). It is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights or obligations of the company or its affiliates. The signing of this pledge shall not be deemed to establish either party as the agent of the other party or create a legal partnership or joint venture between the parties.
The signing of this pledge and pledge approval does not guarantee partnership with the selected implementing organization and does not constitute any form of endorsement or due diligence clearance by the partner organizations.3 The partnership is activated – and can possibly be promoted if agreed by both parties – only once a formal binding partnership agreement is signed and in accordance with that partnership agreement.
1 The evidence comes from a series of new reports, including: Center for Development Research (ZEF)–FAO– IISD–International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)–Cornell (2020), State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) (2021), Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI) (2020), and Ceres2030 (2020). In the simplest terms, evidence refers to science-based information about what works and what does not work.
2 Implementing organisations are: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (Hand-in-Hand initiative); Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Grow Africa; Grow Asia; International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD); One Acre Fund; World Economic Forum (WEF) (Food Action Alliance); and the World Food Programme (WFP).
3 The partner organisations are FAO, GAIN, Grow Africa, Grow Asia, IISD, WBA, WBCSD, WFP
What does “align their investments” mean?
Aligning a company’s or investment fund’s investments with new evidence and commitments requires them to either change existing investments, practices, or operations or make new financial investments in a portfolio of interventions.
The table below shows the area for investment, types of investment needed, and examples of company actions that would be considered “aligned investments.” Investments work better using a portfolio of interventions that interact dynamically and achieve multiple objectives rather than looking for a single intervention.
The process to define the list of aligned investments is iterative. The company or investment fund can propose other examples, but they must be aligned to at least one of the three areas for investment, the 10 types of investments needed, and the principle of investing in a portfolio of interventions to achieve multiple outcomes.
|Ceres2030 Areas for Investment||Types of Investment Needed||Examples of Aligned Company Investment|
|Empower the Excluded||Enable participation in farmers organisations||Contract with farmers organisations|
|Investment in vocational programs for rural youth offering integrated training in multiple skills||Establish young or female farmer programmes that train them on a wide range of skills|
|Scale up social protection programmes||Encourage innovative contract farming that provides multiple services to farmers, and enables them to provide affordable nutritious food to social protection public procurement|
|On the Farm||Investment in extension services, especially for women, to accompany R&D spending||Support female farmer leadership programs within their value chains|
|Agricultural interventions to support sustainable practices that are economically viable for farmers||Provide support to small producers to develop stronger business models for regenerative farming|
|Support adoption of climate resilient crops||Provide access to climate resilient crops at lower prices through PPPs|
|Scale up farm level interventions in water scarce regions||Support SMEs with innovation services to supply clean irrigation|
|Improve quality and quantity of livestock feed for small and medium scale commercial farms||Support responsible sourcing and testing of livestock feed|
|Food on the Move||Reduce post-harvest loss by focusing beyond cereals to fruits & vegetables, and other parts of the value chain||Provide a package of technologies and services, such as multi-use, circular, aggregation cool storage units that can be purchased by farmer organisations/communities, improved access to testing facilities (e.g., aflatoxin), transparent contracts and price premiums for quality produce|
|Invest in infrastructure, regulations, technical assistance (TA) and services to support SMEs in the value chain||Provide innovation support to SMEs in the value chain and workforce nutrition programmes|
What types of financial commitments can be included?
There are four types of financial commitments: (1) core business investments, (2) subsidized contributions, (3) cash contributions, and (4) in-kind contributions.
Core business investments. This is where the greatest quantity of investment is expected to come from. It can take multiple forms and involves direct investments in operations and projects that are aligned to at least one of the 10 investment areas and in at least one or more of the priority countries. For example, spending USD 50 million to build a factory to produce complementary foods in one of the priority countries could be counted toward the pledge.
Subsidized contributions. They can take the form of a sale of goods or services to the targeted beneficiaries at a subsidized rate, for example, selling drip irrigation systems or solar panels at a subsidized rate lower than the company’s standard market price. It can also take the form of higher purchasing prices or better packages for smallholders, for example a contract farming scheme that also offers health care coverage or pays a 20% price premium.
Cash contributions. They can take place through the company’s charitable activities, and/or environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities, and can be transferred to a third party or a fund.
In-kind contributions. They can occur through hiring/assigning employees to implement the intervention (or the provision of goods and services produced by the companies) and are not limited to food companies. All companies in the world contribute to food systems, from airlines to IT services, and are thus eligible to make a pledge. These contributions can also take the form of granting access to knowledge and financial capital. Companies can provide access to patents, IP rights, or databases, and financial firms can provide access to credit, finance, or insurance.
Where are the priority countries?
With whom can my company partner, or work with to implement my pledge?
The company must specify which organization they wish to work with to implement their pledge and is free to choose their own implementing organization.
Any contribution to or cooperation with our implementing organizations shall require signature of a written binding agreement. The signing of such an agreement shall be conditional upon the formalization of all relevant conditions and the successful completion by the company of any due diligence requirements.
Implementing organizations reserve the right to decide not to partner with a company at any point, including if the company fails to comply with the governing principles of the pledge. The company shall maintain the confidentiality of any information it receives from an implementing organization that has been designated as confidential and it shall use information received in respect of this pledge only for purposes of the pledge and not for any private or commercial gain.
Companies that do not select one of our recommended implementing organizations or partners must ensure that their implementing partners are working closely with the government or one of our organizations to ensure country ownership and alignment with national priorities.
What are the conditions for signing the pledge?
They conditions for the pledge are the following:
- The company must make a financial commitment, including a monetary value, in at least one of the 10 high-impact intervention areas based on the new evidence4. Companies should be committed to align their investments and business operations more clearly and strongly with SDG2 Zero Hunger and contribute to efforts to end hunger by 2030.
- The company must make the investment in at least one of the priority countries or regions or a financial commitment for global research and development (R&D) (See list of priority countries above).
- The company must name the partners it will work with to achieve the action: these could include one of the implementing organisations5, or another international or regional organization, or the local, regional, or national government, or another civil society organization (CSO). Companies should be committed to fulfil their pledge by partnering with governments, donors and global institutions to make evidence-based investments that contribute to food systems transformation in that country through tangible contributions to specific projects.
- The company that signs the Zero hunger Private Sector Pledge agrees, through the signing of the pledge document, to comply with applicable laws, rules and regulations, including those applicable in the country(ies) they pledge to support and all other countries where they are based and operating, if any.
- The company agrees, through the signing of the pledge document, to commit to uphold internationally accepted principles, including but not limited to the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS-RAI), the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, the Principles of the UN Global Compact, and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
- They should be able to report on resources allocation, progress, impact and challenges in the context of the agreed collaboration.
4 The evidence comes from a series of new reports, including: Center for Development Research (ZEF)–FAO–IISD–International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)–Cornell (2020), State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) (2021), Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI) (2020), and Ceres2030 (2020). In the simplest terms, evidence refers to science-based information about what works and what does not work.
5 Implementing organisations are: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (Hand-in-Hand initiative); Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Grow Africa; Grow Asia; International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD); One Acre Fund; World Economic Forum (WEF) (Food Action Alliance); and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Who can sign the pledge?
Any company can sign the pledge provided they accept the conditions and guiding principles of the pledge (see above).
How does the pledge support country ownership and alignment to national priorities?
Country ownership and links to national priorities and needs represent the recipe for success of the pledge. The main mechanism for ensuring this is through implementation with the identified organization or partner and in collaboration with existing platforms, coalitions, and initiatives. Further work will be done on the mechanisms for delivery that can facilitate and support better public–private alignment to achieve impact. This will include effective coordination with international organizations (African Development Bank [AfDB], African Union Commission [AUC], FAO, IFAD, International Monetary Fund [IMF], World Bank, and WFP) as well as country-level consultation and implementation which is fundamental to delivery. This will be tailored to national circumstances, led by governments.
How do I fill in my company’s pledge?
We have prepared a table in the sample pledge to help companies fill in their different projects and calculate their contributions. Below are some examples of in-kind and cash projects that would be applicable for the pledge.
|Ceres2030 area for investment||Types of investment needed (evidence drawn from scientific reviews published in Nature & CGE modelling)||Aligned company investments (examples)||Financial contribution (USD/EUR/other)|
|Empower the Excluded||Enable participation in farmers organizations|
|Investment in education, training, and vocational programs for rural youth|
|Scale up social protection programs|
|On the Farm||Investment in extension services and research and development (R&D), especially for women||The Realigning Agriculture to Nutrition (RAIN) Programme||EUR XXX|
|Agricultural interventions and innovation to support sustainable practices|
|Support adoption of climate-resilient crops|
|Scale up farm-level interventions in water-scarce regions|
|Improve quality and quantity of livestock feed for small and medium scale commercial farms|
|Food on the Move||Reduce post-harvest loss by focusing beyond cereals to fruits & vegetables, and other parts of the value chain|
|Invest in infrastructure, regulations, technical assistance (TA) and services to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the value chain|
|TOTAL (USD/EUR/other)||EUR XXX|
|TOTAL (USD Equivalent)||USD XXX|
How long can a company pledge for? 1 year, 5 years or 10 years …
Companies are free to decide the length of their pledge.
Do investments need to be new?
Yes. The pledge must include future spending but can include past commitments that have not yet been spent. For example, they cannot count spending that took place prior to their pledge, but if the company made a past commitment but only plans to spend the money after the date of their pledge, then they can include the future spending.
Can you recommend projects that my company can invest in?
Yes. Our recommended implementing organizations are available to work with companies to identify opportunities for investment. A database of eligible projects is available on request for companies seeking opportunities to pledge toward existing initiatives. This database will be made publicly available on the pledge website after the summit.
Does it count if my company is part of another initiative like the UNFSS Business Declaration, G7 commitment, FAO’s Hand-in-Hand, WEF’s Food Action Alliance, etc.?
A pledge participant must fill in and sign the pledge document to be part of the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge. The pledge works closely in partnership with these other private sector initiatives, and we strongly encourage companies to be part of these initiatives as a way to implement their pledge commitments.
The UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) Business Declaration is the overarching commitment made by companies as part of their engagement in the summit. The pledge documents will be added as an addendum to the Business Declaration.
Companies from G7 countries that sign the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge will automatically meet the commitment needed for the G7 initiative, based on the role that the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) will play in benchmarking and reporting progress.
Who do I send my pledge document to?
What happens after I sign the pledge?
If your pledge is approved, your company will be contacted to further discuss, detail and formalize the terms of your proposed investment plan with the selected implementing organizations. This shall provide you with the opportunity to further define the supported project aligned with national priorities, and agree on the exact collaboration mechanism, reporting modalities and communication plan. The parties will then be able to agree on a formal binding agreement subject to the implementing organization’s due diligence and other requirements.
What is the media plan?
Media engagement is intended to increase awareness of the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge as a corporate commitment to end hunger. It is delivered through a collaborative effort of participating organizations supported by GAIN and the International Institute For Sustainable Development (IISD). The launch of communications work done in the lead up to and around UNFSS in September, 2021 generated high levels of coverage for the Pledge. The next steps will include scaling up the number of pledges and deepening our acquisition strategy by a) targeting a broader spectrum of sectors through the creation of new assets based on the feedback from current pledgers; maybe encouraging pledgers to draft an open letter, b) sustaining visibility in the news through newsworthy announcements and translating pledges into action notably through feedback loops and storytelling from existing pledgers. Media strategy is executed with a hub-and-spoke approach. This involves the development of the assets and toolkits centrally with a strong central media push supported by each organization’s own engagement. The following assets were produced so far : video material, social media cards, narrative document, press release, template text for newsletters, and key speaking points. Communications group gathering participating organizations will ensure alignment and impact of the activities. Key moments of engagement this year are currently being identified and will include, for example, COP 28, the UNGA. A media monitoring will be performed and pay attention to the companies and member states and partners are considering a big launch event this year.
Can I promote my intended collaboration with specific organization(s)?
Because the pledge does not constitute a binding commitment nor a guaranteed partnership with any organization, companies signing the pledge cannot communicate or make any public statement, including on social media, about their plan to partner with or support a specific organization unless they have received express received consent from such organization. In case a company and organization agree to communicate about their planned collaboration, the company should not use the logo, name or any agreed abbreviation of any other implementing organization associated with the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge, nor establish any linkage, direct or indirect, to such organizations in external communications and public statements. Communication on the intended collaboration is to be agreed at a later stage with the implementing organization, after the exact collaboration modalities and a communication plan have been agreed by all relevant parties and upon required due diligence clearance and signature of a formal binding agreement with the implementing organization(s).
Institutional & Governance Issues
Whose idea was the pledge?
The Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge is a game-changing solution that emerged from the UNFSS Action Tracks and is supported by Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy for the UNFSS and by Professor Joachim Von Braun, Chair of the Science Group. The founding partner organisations are FAO, GAIN, Grow Africa, Grow Asia, IISD, WBA, WBCSD, and WFP.
Who is coordinating the pledge?
The pledge is supported by: AUDA-NEPAD, FAO, GAIN, Grow Asia, IFAD, IISD, the Shamba Centre for Food & Climate, WBA, WBCSD, and WFP. The Shamba Centre for Food & Climate is currently acting as coordinator for the Pledge.
What happens after the pledge is signed?
The pledge is a non-binding statement of the companies’ proposed investment plans. It is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights or obligations on the company or its affiliates. After the pledge is signed, the company will work with implementing organization to convert the pledge into specified terms for the proposed project and investment plans and ultimately into a binding agreement, subject to the company undergoing applicable due diligence process and any other organizational requirements. The Term Sheet Template is available below in Annex 1.
What are the reporting and accountability requirements?
The full reporting framework of the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge is available here. It was developed by independent consultants (Walk the Talk), under the supervision and guidance of the Pledge Coordinator, the Shamba Centre for Food & Climate.
The reporting framework contributes to the reporting exercise, which aims to publish a report with aggregated data on all pledges of over USD 1 million. For the 2023 reporting report, the ambition is to verify the following information:
Establish that the pledged investment took place
Confirm the country/region in which it was spent
Confirm the amount that was spent
Any pledges under USD 1 million will not be subject to the same reporting and accountability standards as pledges over USD 1 million. These pledges will still be included in the reporting but through stories and case studies.
WBA will also monitor progress against the company's investment area as part of the broader benchmarking assessment of the Food and Agriculture Benchmark.
What is the governance structure?
The proposed governance structure is as follows:
|Leadership Group||Principals or senior representatives of partner organisations||Meets every 6 months|
|Management Committee||Representatives of partner agencies|
Reports to Leadership Group
|Coordination||Coordinator + comms officer + administrative support officer|
Operating under one partner organisation acting as the accounting officer for the Coordinator
Reports to Management Committee & Leadership Group
|Validation/audit||WBA||Reports independently to Leadership Group|
Download the FAQ and Guidance Document as PDF:
Join the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge and be a part of the global movement to end hunger.