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FAO and OECD work with enterprises to road test the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains

pdf Baseline report: Pilot project on the implementation of the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains 

FAO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), are currently operating a pilot project to road test the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains with a group of selected enterprises and industry initiatives. Participants include global consumer brands, retailers, producers, financial enterprises investing in land and agricultural projects, as well as industry programmes, associations, and cooperatives seeking to support their membership base in strengthening their responsible business practices.

Enterprises involved in the agricultural sector are critical for the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals by, for example, generating investment, decent employment and developing productivity and supply chains that benefit producers and consumers. At the same time, business activities in this sector can undermine this potential if their operations have negative social, environmental or economic impacts.

The OECD and FAO have jointly developed the Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains to meet sustainability challenges and adhere to internationally-agreed standards such as the CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems.  The Guidance covers a broad range of issues including human rights, labour rights, health and safety, food security and nutrition, tenure rights, animal welfare, governance, natural resources and technology and innovation. The pilot project provides a forum to improve the understanding of the benefits and practical implications of applying the Guidance. It constitutes an important component of FAO’s Umbrella Programme supporting responsible agricultural investment.

Participation in the pilot project is a voluntary and collective exercise. A baseline survey based on responses of the group of participating enterprises has been carried out to help the group assess the collective status of its current responsible business conduct practices. The survey was structured around a five-step framework outlined in the OECD-FAO Guidance for conducting risk-based due diligence in agricultural supply chains.

The initial findings of the baseline survey show that participating enterprises have all adopted processes for carrying out due diligence in their supply chains. They have made commitments to responsible business conduct and have taken steps to implement such commitments. Even though they operate in complex supply chains, most enterprises reported having a process for identifying, assessing and managing adverse impacts.

Gaps and opportunities to strengthen due diligence practices have also been identified. There is scope to address gaps between corporate commitments and actions to implement such commitments. Engagement with stakeholders can be strengthened to define expectations around supply chain mapping and traceability. More cooperation with third parties can further strengthen the due diligence process. The sustainability issues on which stakeholders are expected to report on can also be expanded.