Business backs Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge led by WBCSD and partners

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23 September, 2021




Geneva, 23 September 2021 – A total of 42 companies have now pledged a sum of more than USD $345 million in 34 countries to the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge. The Pledge, led by a coalition of partners including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), asks companies to invest in ending world hunger by 2030. Pledgers already include USD $100 million from PepsiCo, USD $35 million from Unilever and USD $11 million from BASF, all WBCSD members.  

Companies who commit must invest in at least one of 10 high-impact areas and in at least one priority country or region to combat hunger. These range from enabling participation in farmer organizations, to supporting adoption of climate resilient crops, to reducing post-harvest loss, and some of the highest priority countries include Madagascar and Somalia. Investment areas and priorities have been established using new research by Ceres2030, an international collective endeavor to end world hunger. 

In 2020, 811 million people (around 1 in 10 people) went hungry across the world, a situation made worse by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this challenge, the Pledge emerged from work in support of today’s UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) and out of recognition that governments cannot work alone to eradicate hunger; there is a need for more private sector investment. 

The Pledge, designed to mobilize private sector investment and funds toward achieving zero hunger, is led by a coalition of eight partners, including the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Grow Africa, Grow Asia, the World Benchmarking Alliance, the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, alongside WBCSD.  

Investment can come in the form of core business investments, as well as subsidized, cash, and in-kind contributions. As part of pledging, companies are also committed to upholding internationally accepted principles including the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems of the Committee on World Food Security, the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, the Principles of the UN Global Compact, and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. 

Pledging companies or investment funds must provide annual progress of their commitments and will be assessed by The World Benchmarking Alliance as part of the Food and Agriculture Benchmark

Increasing private sector investment towards small food producers in geographies with high burdens of hunger is essential to changing the lives of millions of people and making nations food secure. The Pledge enables food companies to provide a strong, united front with governments to make hunger a thing of the past by 2030. – Peter Bakker, President and CEO, WBCSD 

Today, one in ten people go to bed hungry and millions are right on the brink of starvation. This is happening in a world that has enough food to feed everyone, everywhere. It’s time to end this suffering. But to succeed, WFP and the entire community need the creative drive, energy, and commitment of the private sector. Through the Zero Hunger Pledge initiative, businesses around the world can join us and truly make a difference—giving food, hope, and a better future to those who need them most. – David Beasley, Executive Director, WFP 

What we are seeing with the Pledge is the private sector stepping up to be a bigger part of the solution. This is a game-changing approach to solving one of the most pressing yet oldest challenges humanity faces. – Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, GAIN 

About the Pledge 

The Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge is a multistakeholder platform of cooperation and action with a single objective of ending hunger for good. It involves businesses supported by civil society, member state governments, and international organizations. Each of the actors provides a commitment within the remit of its organization. The flexible and voluntary character of the Pledge is its strength as it creates a platform for cooperation for actors who wouldn’t have necessarily worked together in the past.  

If you would like to pledge or find out more, please contact Emeline Fellus

Original press release:  

WBCSD is leading the private sector engagement in preparing for the UNFSS to accelerate the transformation to equitable, net-zero and nature-positive food systems. Learn more  here.