First accountability report shows promising start to private sector investment to end hunger
The Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge has issued its first Accountability Report. The initiative, which emerged from the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, recognises the critical role of the private sector in eradicating hunger. It calls on companies, big and small, to align their investments with high-impact areas to end hunger.
Published just days before the start of COP28, the report demonstrates how the private sector can be held accountable to sustainability. It captures the concrete actions being undertaken by pledging companies towards the sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems.
The Accountability Report focuses on the 16 companies that had, by end 2022, pledged over USD 1 million towards achieving Zero Hunger, as articulated in the second UN Sustainable Development Goal. It shows that, during 2021-2022, 14 of these 16 companies have collectively invested USD 140 million in 103 projects spanning 46 priority countries.
Companies primarily invested in their core business areas - this highlights their recognition that interventions that reduce hunger are an integral part of their business operations.
Carin Smaller, Executive Director of the Shamba Centre for Food and Climate, Co-Coordinator of the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge and one of the Co-Directors of the Ceres2030 study, which provided the foundations for the Pledge, said: “We are thrilled that companies are converting their commitments into action, with over 100 projects already turned into concrete investments within the first two years. This new report not only holds companies to account for their pledges but also demonstrates the integrity of the Pledge. However, this is only a first step and achieving SDG 2 will require more action by the private sector.”
The Ceres2030 study identified ten intervention areas where investment is needed to achieve SDG 2. The Accountability Report found that 56% of investments aligned with three specific sustainability-related intervention areas. In addition to aggregate data from reporting companies, the report also offers several case studies and stories from pledges implemented in different parts of the world and of the value chain.
- 37% of investments consisted in agricultural interventions and innovation to support sustainable practices, such as East-West Seed’s support to the development of vegetable value chains in Uganda;
- 12% of investments aimed to reduce post-harvest loss by focusing beyond cereals to fruits and vegetables and other parts of the value chain, such as Arla Foods Ingredients’ Whey2Value project in Pakistan; and
- 7% of investments supported the adoption of climate-resilient crops, such as Morination Agricultural Products’ Million Moringa Movement in the Philippines.
The Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge officially launched its Accountability Report on 22 November during an online event that presented key results from the engagement process and analysis of data submitted by the reporting companies, as well as concrete examples from various Pledge partners.
The event was also an opportunity for the Pledge to reiterate its target of USD 1 billion of private sector pledges by 2024. So far, nearly USD 575 million has been pledged by 50 companies in 48 countries.
Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), one of the organisations leading the Pledge, said: “More investments need to be committed for the African continent. High priority countries like the DRC, Madagascar and Zambia require more impactful investment and can be a major opportunity for the private sector. We call on more companies to rethink how their normal business can have an impact on hunger and invite them to join the Pledge now.”