(Sao Paulo, 18 March 2014) – From the field to the consumer’s table, the agriculture industry can play a key role in ensuring sustainable development and food security. In an effort to secure commitment and input from key stakeholders in this sector, the Global Compact Network Brazil held a public consultation in Sao Paulo on the UN Global Compact Food and Agriculture Business Principles (FAB Principles) currently in development. Over 60 representatives from business, trade unions and civil society participated in the country consultation.
Participants were asked to make suggestions to the preliminary draft of the FAB Principles, which presented six guidelines to promote sustainable agricultural production: (1) Aim for Food Security, Health and Nutrition; (2) Be Environmentally Responsible; (3) Ensure Economic Viability and Share Value; (4) Respect Human Rights, Create Decent Work and Help Rural Communities to Thrive; (5) Encourage Good Governance and Accountability; (6) Promote Access and Transfer of Knowledge, Skills and Technology.
Network Representative Jorge Soto noted that food security was identified by companies in the 2012 Global Compact Annual Implementation Survey – conducted with more than 1,700 companies in 100 countries – as one of the most urgent sustainability challanges. "For the representatives of the agribusiness sector in Brazil, we need to mobilize Brazilian companies to act responsibly and play our part in promoting a less aggressive logic in food production and to be more inclusive in consumption," said Soto.
Renata Seabra, Executive Secretary for the Brazilian Committee of the UN Global Compact, reinforced the importance of the issue to the nearly 600 signatories in Brazil today. "This year we created the Thematic Group for Sustainable Agriculture... Besides acting in the dissemination and implementation of the Food and Agriculture Business Principles, the Group will develop projects and partnerships in the area, combining the UN international platform actions with the local level, " Seabra said.
Former Minister Roberto Rodrigues, member of the Superior Council of Agribusiness held on the Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo (Fiesp), suggested more clarity with regard to the small farmer in all six FAB Principles guidelines. "Who is the small producer? What is the concept that we have universally on small farmers," he asked. While recognizing the importance of the issue, Isabella Vitalli of Proforest in Latin America, made the point that it is difficult to standardize this concept globally.
The Director of the Department of Environment at Fiesp, Nelson Pereira dos Reis, also participated in the consultation and said that the event offered an opportunity to assess all the implications of agriculture in the economy and society. Finally, the Head of Social Responsibility at Rabobank, Luiz Fernando do Amaral, suggested an updated approach to the subject and a simplification of the language. Amaral also proposed that the Principles be embedded in the mission and values of companies. "This is something that people overlook," he warned. “It is very important to align our expectations. A report, to be innovative, should be simple enough and systematized for different types of queries", Amaral suggested.
This is the second and final round of consultations by Global Compact Local Networks, with the final document to be officially launched in September 2014. To date, nine countries have taken part in the consultation since the process began in September 2013. Further consultations will be conducted in the United States, Turkey and United Kingdom.
Global Compact Network Brazil