Home / Issues / Environment / Food and Agriculture Business Principles

Food and Agriculture Business Principles

The FAB Principles establish the attributes of well-functioning and sustainable global food and agriculture systems, and articulate a common understanding of the resources, ecosystem services and socio-economic impacts needed to build resilience into these systems and the markets that they serve. The FAB Principles are the first set of global voluntary business principles for the food and agriculture sector.

The six principles are designed to complement existing initiatives that advance sustainability in food and agriculture, and serve as an umbrella over voluntary standards and technical compliance platforms. They provide agreed global language on what constitutes sustainability in food and agriculture on critical issues ranging from food security, health and nutrition, to human rights, good governance, and environmental stewardship, as well as ensuring economic viability across the entire value chain. Download FAB Principles Flyer (pdf).


See an overview of the FAB Principles launch on 22 September 2014 at the United Nations in New York. The video features insights from business, civil society and UN leaders and expert views expressed on the occasion of the launch event.

Principle 1: Aim for Food Security, Health and Nutrition

Businesses should support food and agriculture systems that optimize production and minimize wastage, to provide nutrition and promote health for every person on the planet.

Principle 2: Be Environmentally Responsible

Businesses should support sustainable intensification of food systems to meet global needs by managing agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry responsibly. They should protect and enhance the environment and use natural resources efficiently and optimally.

Principle 3: Ensure Economic Viability and Share Value

Businesses should create, deliver and share value across the entire food and agriculture chain from farmers to consumers.

Principle 4: Respect Human Rights, Create Decent Work and Help Communities To Thrive

Businesses should respect the rights of farmers, workers and consumers. They should improve livelihoods, promote and provide equal opportunities, so communities are attractive to live, work and invest in.

Principle 5: Encourage Good Governance and Accountability

Businesses should behave legally and responsibly by respecting land and natural resource rights, avoiding corruption, being transparent about activities and recognizing their impacts.

Principle 6: Promote Access and Transfer of Knowledge, Skills and Technology

Businesses should promote access to information, knowledge and skills for more sustainable food and agricultural systems. They should invest in developing capacities of smallholders and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as more effective practices and new technologies.

As the world’s population grows to nine billion by 2050 and demand on global food systems intensifies, business will be a critical partner for Governments and other stakeholders to design and deliver effective, scalable and practical solutions for secure food systems and sustainable agriculture. With farming and food occupying a pivotal position in sustainable development, the FAB Principles provide a holistic framework for companies to collaborate with the UN, Governments, civil society and other stakeholders to meet this challenge.

The FAB Principles aim to help realize the goal of sustainable development as described in the Rio+20 outcome document (The Future We Want), and to empower businesses to make a positive contribution to the post-2015 development agenda.

Reporting and the FAB Principles

The FAB Principles provide a common basis for substantive sustainability reports to be developed and compared between organizations operating in the food, nutrition and agricultural sectors. Global Compact corporate participants from the food and agriculture sector can use the Principles to disclose their sustainability policies and practices in their required annual Communication on Progress (COP).

Reporting through the COP will demonstrate how an organization’s activities are aligned with the FAB Principles, as well as achievements that contribute to meeting the global challenges of food security and sustainable agriculture.

Development of the FAB Principles

The UN Global Compact facilitated development of the FAB Principles through a nearly two-year broad and inclusive multi-stakeholder process. Over 20 consultations have been conducted globally, including more than 1,000 businesses, UN agencies and civil society organizations involved in agriculture, nutrition and food systems. Key milestones of the development process are outlined below. 

Key Milestones

Following outlines the milestones and material developed during the process to establish the Food and Agriculture and Business Principles. Click here to read the comprehensive programme plan

Year Phase Key Activities and Outputs Relevant Material
2012 Preparatory
  • Background paper released by Earth Security Initiative that outlines the opportunities found in addressing resource scarcity and food security
  • Identification of programme design, management structure and programme schedule
  • Constitution of the FAB Principles Steering Group (SG) and Core Advisory Group (CAG) developed
  • Reference materials from CAG gathered


2013 Drafting the White Paper
  • Three in-person meetings of the CAG
  • Involvement and coordination with UN Agencies that have a focus on food and agriculture
  • Development of White Paper identifying key factors and outcomes. The white paper served as the basis for input to the Consultation process

White Paper: 中文 | English

2013 Consultation on White Paper
  • Feedback to White Paper collected via online questionnaire
  • Global Compact Local Network-led country-level consultations
  • Expected outcomes include a revised White Paper incorporating stakeholder input and recommendations on the draft FAB Principles

Consultation synthesis report, prepared by Wageningen University & Research Centre, Centre for Development Innovation

Local Consultation Reports

2013 First Draft of FAB Principles
2014 Consultation on Draft FAB Principles
  • Second online questionnaire estalibshed for gathering feedback to draft FAB Principles
  • Regional consultations in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe & North America
  • Local Network-led Country-level consultations
  • Expected outcome: Revised FAB Principles based on stakeholder input, and recommendations on final FAB Principles
2014 Final Draft of FAB Principles
  • CAG will meet to finalize the FAB Principles based on input from online and in-person consultations
  • Expected outcome: Final FAB Principles
2014 Launch of FAB Principles
  • Pre-General Assembly launch of FAB Principles
  • Emphasis placed on the respective roles of small farmers, Governments and the UN.
  • Challenges and conditions to drive implementation of the FAB Principles discussed.
2014 Post Launch
  • Convened design workshop for a 'universal sustainability protocol', to facilitate a harmonization process for agricultural sustainability standards
  • Need of existing standards and codes to be simplified and benefit all stakeholders including smaller farmers, MNCs, and governments was recognized
  • Workshop convened through a collaboration between the Global Compact and the International Trade Centre



General Inquiries: sustainable.agriculture (at) unglobalcompact.org

Puvan Selvanathan
Head, Food and Agriculture
UN Global Compact
puvan (at) unglobalcompact.org

Adrienne Gardaz
Policy Adviser & Programme Manager
UN Global Compact
gardaz (at) un.org