Markets and trade

Guidance instruments that promote responsible agricultural investment

Against the backdrop of recurrent food price crises and a wave of large-scale land acquisitions in the late 2000s, the international community called for instruments that promote responsible agricultural investment. FAO and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) have taken a leading role in the development of international guidance instruments through multi-stakeholder consultations. They may be useful for governments to develop laws and policies, and for private corporate actors or civil society groups.

The CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems

The CFS-RAI were approved by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2014. They are the result of an inclusive consultation process. The Principles address all types of investment in agriculture and food systems and in the production and processing spheres. They provide a framework that all stakeholders can use. FAO is currently developing an Umbrella Programme to translate the principles into action.

OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains

The OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains was developed jointly by the OECD and FAO to help enterprises observe existing standards for responsible business conduct along agricultural supply chains. Launched in 2016, the Guidance introduces a 5-step framework to risk-based due diligence, helping companies understand how they can impact on society and the environment through upstream and downstream business in the agricultural sector. Importantly, while addressing risk, the Guidance illustrates how agricultural enterprises can encourage multi-stakeholder cooperation and drive better development outcomes by considering structural development challenges in producing countries, and sourcing communities.

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ECD-FAO Pilot Project on the Implementation of the OECD-FAO Guidance 

In 2018, the OECD and FAO led a global pilot project to review the practical application of the OECD-FAO Guidance and generate knowledge on how companies and stakeholders are implementing its key recommendations. Participants included enterprises operating upstream and downstream at different parts of the value chain, responsible for producing, transporting and transforming a wide range of agricultural food and non-food commodities such as bananas, beef, cocoa, cotton, dairy products, palm oil, soy, sugar, among others. A total of twenty-seven companies and seven industry initiatives volunteered their participation in the pilot project.

The project’s first milestone included a baseline report from companies and supply chain initiatives that evaluated the extent to which the recommendations of the OECD-FAO Guidance was addressed and implemented by participants.  The pilot project was completed with a final report that presented different company approaches to due diligence and key challenges that they faced in addressing impacts in their operations, while taking into account the OECD-FAO Guidance and challenges in developing economies. 


The FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT)

The VGGT were endorsed by the CFS in 2012. They aim to guarantee the protection of legitimate tenure rights and address all relevant issues about land tenure. The VGGT contain a chapter on investment which clarifies the responsibilities of various stakeholders.