FAO and partners reach out to business world with "Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge"

Pledges from 42 companies total $345 million so far

21 September 2021, Rome - The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), QU Dongyu, today attended the launch of the "Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge," a call on the business world to help the United Nations achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"Without more active engagement from the private sector, we will not achieve the SDGs. For this reason, FAO welcomes the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge," Qu said.

According to FAO data, more than 810 million people went to bed hungry and nearly 2.4 billion did not have access to adequate and nutritious food in 2020. Those numbers are now expected to have worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Achieving the 17 SDGs by 2030 -- including those related to ending extreme poverty (SDG1), zero hunger (SDG2) and reducing inequalities (SDG10) -- will require an estimated $3.5 trillion per year.

"The Pledge recognises that governments cannot eradicate hunger alone," Qu said.

More than 40 private companies from 34 countries have already responded to the Pledge, for a total of almost $350 million. More details can be found here.

In addition to FAO, the initiative is being supported by a network of 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 (IISD), and Cornell University.

A new engagement strategy with the private sector

FAO approved a new Strategy for Private Sector Engagement in December 2020, guided by the realisation that the SDGs could benefit from a more proactive and agile engagement with the private sector, from local family-owned businesses to international conglomerates.

The Strategy expands means of engagement to include innovation, encourages data sharing and dissemination and increases SDG-aligned investments in agri-food sectors.

The Pledge, which comes on the same day as the World Economic Forum (WEF) Stewardship Board for Food Systems and ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit in New York on 23 September, also complements FAO's Hand-in-Hand Initiative, an evidence-based, country-led and country-owned initiative to help accelerate agri-food systems transformation.

"I look forward to others joining and making commitments to ensure that no one is left behind on the road to Zero Hunger by 2030," Qu said.    

Photo: ©FAO/
Virtual Launch of the Zero Hunger, Nourish the Future Pledge for the private sector (Composite picture from Left): FAO Director-General QU Dongyu; Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy; Valerie Guarnieri, Assistant Executive Director World Food Programme (WFP); Desire M'zinga Birihanze, Minister of Agriculture of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Peter Bakker, President/CEO, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).