Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Willem-Jan Laan Unilever, Netherlands

Considering the large number of reports which have been written over the past number of years on food and nutrition security, I will focus on a number of specific recommendations which were included in initiatives with Unilever contribution.


- Recently our CEO Paul Polman argued in the Financial Times: “Now is the time for action to achieve global supply security”. He specifically provided 3 recommendations:


* We need increased investment in agricultural production and productivity, especially in Africa and Latin America. Governments and businesses need to direct investment towards strengthening whole value chains and support for smallholder farmers, particularly women.

* We need active policy programmes for food & nutrition security in individual developing countries, based on partnerships with the private sector, donors and civil society. Investments in fighting malnutrition would benefit people more than any other type of investment with a return of $30 for every $1 invested. Investment in nutrition can translate to a 2-3 per cent increase in a nation’s GDP each year, breaking the cycle of poverty that traps families and nations.

* We should eliminate the use of unsustainable biofuels. Most first generation biofuels are neither environmentally efficient nor cost effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the demand they place on land is destabilising world food supply and increasing prices.

- In 2012 several private sector actors did work together in the so-called B20 Task Force on Food Security. This Task Force, co-chaired by our CEO Paul Polman, provided recommendations for the G20 in Mexico in June last year (B20 report attached).


Recommendations with regard to Strengthening land rights were included:


Recommended industry commitments:


* Follow the Voluntary Guidelines for the Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests agreed through the Committee on Food Security (CFS).

* Ensure that agricultural investments are transparent, responsible and compatible with the Voluntary Guidelines as implemented by national authorities. Industry to respect special regulations on large-scale land acquisitions where such policies or guidelines are not in place.

* Develop robust investment standards through the Committee on Food Security.

Recommended public-sector commitments:

* Promote and adopt the Voluntary Guidelines for the Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests agreed through the Committee on Food Security.

* Establish adequate legal frameworks and enforcement measures to formalize and ensure land rights, and recognize informal and customary tenure, with specific safeguards for smallholders.

* Commit to contract transparency and appropriate dispute settlement procedures.

* Provide appropriate temporary measures, including special regulations on large-scale land acquisitions, as long as adequate legal frameworks are not implemented.

* Develop robust investment standards through the Committee on Food Security.

- Recently we have contributed to the UN Global Compact Key Pillars on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. This report contains an extensive list of good practices by private sector entities, working together with governments and civil society. This UN Global Compact report also refers to adequate principles for responsible investment in farmland and the activities of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI-platform):


The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform is an industry initiative comprised of some of the world’s largest food companies who seek to support the development of sustainable agriculture worldwide. Created in 2002 by Nestlé, Unilever and Danone, SAI recognizes that food companies are the biggest purchasers of agricultural raw materials in the world and that by working together they bring scale, resources and expertise to the challenge of creating more sustainable food systems.


Today, the SAI Platform counts over 30 members, including Coca Cola, Kraft Foods, Heineken and McDonalds, who all agree that sustainable agriculture is “a productive, competitive and efficient way to produce agricultural products, while at the same time protecting and improving the natural environment and social/economic conditions of local communities”.

- We welcome current initiatives including the Zero Hunger Challenge and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition. We support the UN Secretary General in setting objectives, targets and indicators for the Post-2015 Global Development Framework. We believe that eliminating hunger and malnutrition should be embedded in national food & nutrition programmes. These programmes should be time-bound and monitored annually at local level.


Global institutions, including the FAO, have an important role to play. Key tasks include:


* Monitoring progress at global level with annual scorecards.

* Sharing best practice in the areas of agricultural production, food security and nutrition.

* Supporting developing countries with their food & nutrition security programmes while sharing expertise with the private sector.

* Produce support for the implementation of national programmes by bringing together local stakeholders.


- We welcome the Action Plan included in the FAO Strategic Framework for 2014-2017. We have noted the commitment from Member Countries together with their development partners to adopt evidence-based and inclusive governance mechanisms for eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. We particularly welcome the agreed actions which include “the promotion of governance systems which ensure the implementation of agreements such as the Voluntary guidelines on the Right to Food, and on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security; and on Responsible Investment in Agriculture.”


- In accordance with the conclusions of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), we are prepared to contribute to the stakeholder consultations on the principles for responsible agricultural investments in the coming year.


We look forward to the High Level consultation which will be hosted by the Government of Spain (March 2013) in order to provide concrete actions and positive outcomes at local level. Now is the time for action!


Willem-Jan Laan

Director Global External Affairs


10 January 2013