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Welcoming private-sector engagement

The private sector – big or small, local or global – is a key ally in the global fight against food insecurity, malnutrition and rural poverty. The ambitious 2030 Agenda requires all forms of partnership and resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the benefit of this generation and generations to come.

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While FAO has a long history of  partnering with the private sector, we are now scaling up our  engagement, formal and informal, recognizing the important catalytic role that the private sector plays in bringing about transformative change and finding innovative solutions to today's and tomorrow's development challenges. FAO has recently developed and launched a new Strategy for Private Sector Engagement (2021–2025), which lays out the Organization’s continued and enhanced commitment to joining forces for development progress.

The private sector – a broad definition:

  • Farmers and farmers’ organizations
  • Producers’ organizations and cooperatives
  • Micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)
  • Large firms (national and multinational companies, including state-owned enterprises)
  • Financial institutions
  • Industry, trade associations and private-sector consortia
  • Philanthropic foundations

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©UN/Aleksandar Dimishkovski

Guidance on core indicators for agri-food systems: Measuring the private sector’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The achievement of the SDGs is a collective, multi-stakeholder endeavour. One of the key gaps in country monitoring and reporting on progress towards the SDGs is capturing the significant contribution of the private sector in the agri-food system transformation pathway to the SDGs.

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While many agri-food private sector organisations – both large and small – are now collecting a significant amount of data related to their environmental, social and governance impact; this data is i) often not in a form easily merged with government data; or ii) not aligned specifically with the SDG agenda; or iii) not collected by or communicated to the relevant national authorities. This means that countries are not able to report on the full picture of progress, and private companies are not given the credit they deserve for their contribution to the SDGs.

FAO set out to address these gaps through the development of a set of indicators which can be used by the private sector and feed into national level reporting on the SDGs:

How to engage? The objective of the guidance on core indicators for agri-food systems is to provide practical information on how food and agriculture companies’ contribution to the SDGs can be measured in a consistent manner and in alignment with countries’ needs relating to monitoring the attainment of Agenda 2030. The indicators are further intended to serve as a tool to assist governments in:

  1. Improving the private sector’s accountability mechanisms and assessing their contribution to SDG implementation, in particular on key transformative actions needed to achieve the SDGs.
  2. Setting standards and policies for corporate sustainability reporting, establishing national private sector reporting mechanisms and enabling the reporting on SDG Indicator 12.6.1 (Number of companies publishing sustainability reports)
  3. Potentially reusing the data reported by private entities to improve SDG monitoring at the national level.

The guidance provides additional information of how to measure the 32 core indicators identified in UNCTAD’s sector-agnostic framework and proposes 25 new core indicators addressing additional economic, environmental, social and institutional material issues for private actors engaged in the agri-food sector.

>> Download the guidance.

Key facts

In focus

  • FAO and partners reach out to business world with "Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge"
  • AMR Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Platform - Creating a movement for change through engaging multiple actors and voices
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UN Food Systems Summit 2021

September 23


The UN Food Systems Summit will serve as a historic opportunity to empower all people to leverage the power of food systems to drive our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and get us back on track to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

FAO ready to follow up on the UN Food System Summit and transform Agri-Food Systems Together