Fairfood and the SDG’s: an end to hunger

Need a refresher? Read here what exactly the SDG’s mean. Did you know that the number of people starving worldwide has increased for the first time in seventeen years? After this number has steadily declined over the years, we are suddenly seeing a peak in 2016: last year 815 million people were hungry. That is 38 million more than the year before. This increase is mainly caused by crises and the climate, five United Nations organizations write in a recent report. An end to hunger is far from close.

That is a significant step backwards. Especially considering that this increase coincided with the release of the UN’s 2016 SDG goals. This included SDG 2, which aims to end hunger by 2030.

SDG 2 has, like the other 16 SDG’s, a number of sub-goals. These sub-goals make attaining the overarching SDG more achievable. Fairfood deals with three of the sub-goals of SDG 2, namely:

2.1: “By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.”

2.3: “By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.”

2.c: “Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves in order to help limit extreme food price volatility.”

Fairfood is there for the people who sow, grow and harvest our food. For the people who produce our food, but go to bed hungry themselves; because that work doesn’t yield enough income for them. We want these people to receive a fair share of the money earned from the products they grow. According to us, a fair share is at least a living wage (when these people are engaged in paid employment) or a fair income (if they are self-employed). They can provide for the basic necessities of life, so they won’t have to go hungry any longer.

What we do against hunger
To achieve this, we carry out campaign after campaign. With our campaigns we want to make the consumer aware of his or her choices, and then put pressure on the big industry players. The more people recognize the problems, the more pressure the industry feels to start paying fair prices. An important element of our campaigns therefore is the conversations we have with these players. For example, in the past we have sat around the table with Nestlé, Ahold, Starbucks, Unilever and Bacardi, among others.

Sometimes the conversations quickly lead to concrete actions. As in 2015, when it turned out that much of Lidl’s shrimp was exploited. Fairfood filed a petition and collected 115,000 signatures. Lidl then announced in the British magazine The Grocer that they would focus on guaranteeing fair wages in their shrimp chains. The supermarket chain stated: “Lidl ensures that all employees in our product chains receive a fair wage or income. We have already contacted Fairfood regarding this important topic.”

Sometimes a longer breath is needed to achieve our goals. That seems to be the case with our coconut campaign. We have recently held discussions with key players, but the results are still not very satisfactory. The coconut product chains appear very opaque due to the many different products that are made from coconuts. Something that we also often hear is that the processors here in the Netherlands have little or no influence over the income of farmers in, for example, Indonesia or the Philippines. They say they have no insight into the beginning of the product chain. Additionally, we often hear that the real urgency currently lies with products such as palm oil.

I don’t think that arguments such as these are valid, and therefore we will continue to press these issues. Everyone is entitled to a living wage or income, not just the people behind products that happen to be hot topics, such as palm oil. Additionally, the lack of transparency in 2017 can be eliminated with applications such as blockchain—companies such as Walmart and Moyee are setting a good example of this.

Read here how we want to contribute to SDG 1: an end to poverty.

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