How can business harness the SDGs for greater impact in smallholder agricultural value chains?

Since September 2015, when nearly 200 United Nations member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many companies have been analysing their sustainability targets and strategies to better understand how they can contribute to the delivery of shared global development priorities. 

 

Through agricultural value chains and smallholder sourcing programmes, the private sector has an opportunity to contribute to a number of SDGs and targets, including those aimed at reducing poverty, doubling agricultural productivity, creating decent work, and promoting women’s empowerment. As a start point, many companies operating in this area have undertaken extensive mapping exercises to clarify how their existing strategies and programmes align with relevant SDGs—primarily to inform internal engagement and dialogue with external stakeholders.

 

Whilst this foundational work is important, a growing number of companies are now asking themselves and their partners how they can harness the SDGs to spur even greater impact for the business and for smallholders. To provide answers to this challenge, Business Fights Poverty has teamed up with the Sustainable Food Lab, Mars, SABMiller and DFID to develop guidance for businesses with smallholder sourcing strategies on how to harness the SDGs for greater impact. This online discussion aims to inform the development of this guidance by exploring the following questions:   

 

  • What role can the SDGs play in helping a business think about its impacts on agricultural value chains and smallholder farmers?  Practically speaking, how can a business use the SDGs to spur more development impact for smallholders in agricultural value chains?

 

  • What are the most relevant SDGs in a smallholder sourcing context and how should businesses prioritise their engagement?

 

  • How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?

Editor's Note:

Welcome to this online written discussion. To post comments you will need to sign in / sign up to Business Fights Poverty. A list of recent comments is shown in the right-hand side bar and will refresh every 5 minutes. To refresh more often, please click on the refresh icon in your browser or on the link below.

Views: 2395

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Two general points: First, I think the starting point to measure and communicate SDG contributions is to have a solid baseline assessment on what supply chain impact looks like and to be transparent about these findings (‘know and show’). We have seen more and more companies conducting impact assessments of their agricultural supply chains, which is a promising sign. However, the quality of these assessments has varied, highlighting the need to develop and disseminate robust tools and methodologies that allow for an SDG-adequate assessment of impacts. 

Second, ideally these assessments should then form the basis to formulate clear goals and action plans including time-bound benchmarks. All assessments and progress reports should be made available publicly and regularly monitored in order to make progress transparent 



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion.  Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?

We have come to the end of the live segment of this discussion.  We'll keep the discussion open, so please continue to posts your insights!

Thank you so much to all our panellists, and to all of you for joining.

This discussion is part of our Challenge on Agriculture and the SDGs, supported by SABMiller, Mars and DFID and run in partnership with Sustainable Food Lab.  For more information on the Challenge, visit: http://challenge134.businessfightspoverty.org/

Hi Bello,

I absolutely agree. Human interest stories can be great communication tools, but also systematizing / documenting the pilot experiences to communicate compelling evidence around the positive business impact of interventions around specific SDGs can have the effect of attracting additional investment.

Bello Oyedolapo said:

One of the ways for a business to measure its contribution to the SDG in smallholder supply chain is to look for indicators that are telltales of impact on the smallholder supply chain. Such as how it has grown in size and profit

Gianluca Nardi said:

Thank you Zahid for your question,

Defining a smart set of indicators that feed into the SDGs targets will be a key determinant of successful projects. Ideally, the indicators should also be effectively used internally and externally to monitor the progress, to learn and to make managerial decisions following what was learned.  

The indicators should also measure not only the numbers of the impacts but also the systemic changes that it is causing, the changes in the rules of the game, in the public policies and in the corporate behaviours.

Tracking the changes that are happening within the same companies would have a huge value in terms of tracking how companies are addressing issues at a deeper level that involves their business.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion.  Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?

Hi Samina,

take for instance the commitment under the health SDGs, take target "3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all." 

This will be one of the most costly SDGs to achieve in terms of government revenue and private sector investment, if every person is to have access to either government or private sector health insurance, that will mean additional revenue mobilisation (public and private) and new markets for health related products (medication, procurement for new hospitals), e.g. Ghana has a publicly committed aim of universal health coverage.  They created a National Health Insurance Scheme in 2004 to realise this aim, and I expect many more developing countries to move into creating national health insurance systems as a way of driving up health expenditure as a result of there now being a SDG Goal 3, and target 3.8 against it.

I think some of the resources and real-world examples provided by the panelists will be useful tools.

Matti Kohonen said:


Hi Samina,

My advice is that making the business case is critical to senior management.  SDGs provide signals of where governments are likely to focus in terms of their government spending, but also in terms of industrial policy as areas like climate change and decent work are SDG goals and targets. So there will be new business opportunities if you consieder that there is now a greater likelihood of some of these goals being met (and MDG period does show that the goals / targets do drive policy).   Besides policy guidance, now the SDGs are supposed to provide a road map for the private sector as well - so expect other busineses to align with the SDG framework, and this creates new investable opportunities that you'd need to map in a number of countries.  


Samina Jain said:

What advice do you have of linking the SGDs with the business case and raising awareness of the SGDs, beyond a one-off powerpoint explaining them to your senior executives?

That is right, Simon. The Shared Approaches Framework is not comprehensive across all SDGs. It is based on a generic theory of change for how business typically invests in smallholder farming systems. It would be a useful activity to map the SAF to the SDG targets/indicators.

Simon Winter said:

In response to Zahid's third question - one of the key things that needs to happen is to develop a more systematized and standardized way of both measuring and communicating progress against the SDGs - the SFL measurement framework is a great step forward on this - but is not comprehensive across all SDGs yet (Emily correct me if I am wrong).

Last year UNGC/Oxfam developed a framework to align use of poverty footprinting to the SDGs at light touch to deep levels depending on business appetite and resource availability etc..  In the process an extensive exercise was done on metrics and measurement.  That can be adapted and used in a variety of ways that is broader than developing poverty footprinting exercises alone.  It languishes at the moment as I understand it due to a lack of resources.

And then UNGC also has the SDG Compass and there are a number of other attempts at standardized ways of measuring.  

The main challenge is how to get away from the urge to splurge on new systems every time a new organization sees this need but to create convergence - I welcome thoughts about that.

 

Hello all, 

I work for the Rapino Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in Haiti . Unfortunately, I find that the private sector is unable to uphold the SDGs in a weak/failed state. I think the question should be how can SDGs be leveraged politically to instigate change in international and government policies. When the agricultural sector has no infrastructure/ high risk/ trade barriers these challenges need to be met at the state and international level.

Haiti is a prime example of an agrarian state that went awry due to its weakness in negotiating international trade policies. In 1994 the Clinton administration pressured Haiti to lower its tariffs on rice which slumped market prices with US subsidized rice causing thousands of Haitian rice farmers lose their livelihoods. How can we expect the private sector in agriculture to promote the SDG2 goal when it is powerless in such situations? Why would you invest in this sector when you can wake up this year and find out all your investments in the Haitian peanut sector have gone to waste because the USDA decides to send 500 metic tons of peanuts for free to Haiti?

SDGs need to be leveraged politically in order for us to realize targets 2.a, 2.b and 2.c. But whose job is it to do this? 

Thank you for your response, Matti. I agree, that is a big challenge. I know South Africa also recently launched a National Health Insurance scheme. I am not as familiar with the health care and pharmaceutical companies leading this space, but it will be interesting to see if they are using this SGD in their communication tools both internally and externally, and how they are measuring their impact (beyond number of people covered).

Matti Kohonen said:

Hi Samina,

take for instance the commitment under the health SDGs, take target "3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all." 

This will be one of the most costly SDGs to achieve in terms of government revenue and private sector investment, if every person is to have access to either government or private sector health insurance, that will mean additional revenue mobilisation (public and private) and new markets for health related products (medication, procurement for new hospitals), e.g. Ghana has a publicly committed aim of universal health coverage.  They created a National Health Insurance Scheme in 2004 to realise this aim, and I expect many more developing countries to move into creating national health insurance systems as a way of driving up health expenditure as a result of there now being a SDG Goal 3, and target 3.8 against it.

I think some of the resources and real-world examples provided by the panelists will be useful tools.

Matti Kohonen said:


Hi Samina,

My advice is that making the business case is critical to senior management.  SDGs provide signals of where governments are likely to focus in terms of their government spending, but also in terms of industrial policy as areas like climate change and decent work are SDG goals and targets. So there will be new business opportunities if you consieder that there is now a greater likelihood of some of these goals being met (and MDG period does show that the goals / targets do drive policy).   Besides policy guidance, now the SDGs are supposed to provide a road map for the private sector as well - so expect other busineses to align with the SDG framework, and this creates new investable opportunities that you'd need to map in a number of countries.  


Samina Jain said:

What advice do you have of linking the SGDs with the business case and raising awareness of the SGDs, beyond a one-off powerpoint explaining them to your senior executives?

Hi Nicole, this is fantastic! I'd love to know more about the initiative that you are mentioning. CARE has been involved in pre-competitive initiatives in the past, and my specific experience has been around the Cocoa Action Plan of the WCF at international level but also some great coordination forum at national level like in Cote d'Ivoire with the CCC (Conseil du Café et Cacao). These spaces are not aligned yet to the SDGs agenda and pushing it could be a worthwhile effort.

Nicole Carta said:

Great comment Gianluca, fully agree and would also underline the importance of working among sector peers to see how industries as a whole can coordinate to achieve greater results, faster. This is still new for many industries but there are certainly good models and examples of working among traditional competitors in a pre-competitive way to align efforts.  A new launch will occur  this month for agribusiness value chain actors - upstream -to mirror the consumer goods forum, called the Global Agri-Business alliance, co-launched by Olam and WBCSD.
 

 


Gianluca Nardi said:

Thank you Zahid for your question,

Defining a smart set of indicators that feed into the SDGs targets will be a key determinant of successful projects. Ideally, the indicators should also be effectively used internally and externally to monitor the progress, to learn and to make managerial decisions following what was learned.  

The indicators should also measure not only the numbers of the impacts but also the systemic changes that it is causing, the changes in the rules of the game, in the public policies and in the corporate behaviours.

Tracking the changes that are happening within the same companies would have a huge value in terms of tracking how companies are addressing issues at a deeper level that involves their business.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion.  Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?

Great points, Chloe - a very strong challenge for small-holder farmers and one of the unintended consequences of international aid, that has happened around the world. All the best in your work.

Chloe Azria said:

Hello all, 

I work for the Rapino Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in Haiti . Unfortunately, I find that the private sector is unable to uphold the SDGs in a weak/failed state. I think the question should be how can SDGs be leveraged politically to instigate change in international and government policies. When the agricultural sector has no infrastructure/ high risk/ trade barriers these challenges need to be met at the state and international level.

Haiti is a prime example of an agrarian state that went awry due to its weakness in negotiating international trade policies. In 1994 the Clinton administration pressured Haiti to lower its tariffs on rice which slumped market prices with US subsidized rice causing thousands of Haitian rice farmers lose their livelihoods. How can we expect the private sector in agriculture to promote the SDG2 goal when it is powerless in such situations? Why would you invest in this sector when you can wake up this year and find out all your investments in the Haitian peanut sector have gone to waste because the USDA decides to send 500 metic tons of peanuts for free to Haiti?

SDGs need to be leveraged politically in order for us to realize targets 2.a, 2.b and 2.c. But whose job is it to do this? 

Thank you very much to all the participants and panelists. This was a great discussion and I learned about many tools that I can use in my work.

Hi Gianluca - the two are co-hosting the launch in Singapore on 14 Sept, doesn't appear to be much on line, I have only some initial materials shared with our leadership. I would imagine that WBCSD might have more posted publically, and certainly after the launch later this month.  We are watching closely as well as this segment of the food and ag industry is certainly a key player for improving inclusive models with smallholders.  Look forward to keeping in touch.


 Gianluca Nardi said:

Hi Nicole, this is fantastic! I'd love to know more about the initiative that you are mentioning. CARE has been involved in pre-competitive initiatives in the past, and my specific experience has been around the Cocoa Action Plan of the WCF at international level but also some great coordination forum at national level like in Cote d'Ivoire with the CCC (Conseil du Café et Cacao). These spaces are not aligned yet to the SDGs agenda and pushing it could be a worthwhile effort.

Nicole Carta said:

Great comment Gianluca, fully agree and would also underline the importance of working among sector peers to see how industries as a whole can coordinate to achieve greater results, faster. This is still new for many industries but there are certainly good models and examples of working among traditional competitors in a pre-competitive way to align efforts.  A new launch will occur  this month for agribusiness value chain actors - upstream -to mirror the consumer goods forum, called the Global Agri-Business alliance, co-launched by Olam and WBCSD.
 

 


Gianluca Nardi said:

Thank you Zahid for your question,

Defining a smart set of indicators that feed into the SDGs targets will be a key determinant of successful projects. Ideally, the indicators should also be effectively used internally and externally to monitor the progress, to learn and to make managerial decisions following what was learned.  

The indicators should also measure not only the numbers of the impacts but also the systemic changes that it is causing, the changes in the rules of the game, in the public policies and in the corporate behaviours.

Tracking the changes that are happening within the same companies would have a huge value in terms of tracking how companies are addressing issues at a deeper level that involves their business.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion.  Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?

It is important that expectations from the private sector in relation to SDGs are not subject to more scrutiny than the responsibilities, commitments and performance of the role of the public sector. As has been mentioned in earlier posts there is a need for collaboration but we always tend to overlook the failure of producer country governments to support public goods and services in rural ag communities despite when there exists a formal monitoring of gaps within for example the District Assembly systems or Departements, Prefecture, Sous Prefecture. There are extensive reports on compliance within communities but these reports are not utilised to challenge why central governments are not funding programmes to reduce those gaps. I have seen the problem first hand under the MDG reporting system.

The bottom line is that communities and their leaders are resigned to continuing to have low expectations from their own governments as to how their communities can be improved. Against this back drop it is important not to try and pass on the burden to the private sector. Taxation in many forms also plays a part in the answer to how we can proceed.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Latest Activity

Profile IconLisa Resnick and Clemence Amar joined Business Fights Poverty
yesterday
Profile IconArlene Wills Allen, Meei Child and Ida Yamaswari joined Business Fights Poverty
Tuesday
Profile IconJulius Gisi, Prafulla Mishra, Kate Jackson and 1 more joined Business Fights Poverty
Jul 21
Mark Ritchie is now a member of Business Fights Poverty
Jul 18

© 2017   Inspiris. Business Fights Poverty was created and is managed by Inspiris, a Certified B Corp.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

Google+