The United Nations has called for a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land to drive progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Barilla Foundation, led by Chairman Guido Barilla, outlined what the food industry is already doing, and what steps leaders must take to accelerate progress and achieve sustainable food, land, water, and oceans. 

“Food industry leaders have already taken steps to align with the SDGs and have endorsed sustainable development as a core business concept. But to achieve the SDGs by 2030, we need business actions. The Barilla Foundation and our partners recognize the need for concrete practices, metrics, monitoring, and public education to support the transformation to sustainability. Only by working together can we achieve the SDGs,” said Guido Barilla, Chairman of the Barilla Foundation.

Land use and food systems contribute to widespread hunger, malnutrition and obesity. Food systems account for around one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, over 90 percent of scarcity-weighted water use, most losses of biodiversity, overexploitation of fisheries, nutrient overload in the water, and considerable pollution of water and air. At the same time, food systems are highly vulnerable to climate change and land degradation. It is time for food industry CEOs to step up and address these issues, and the report presented by the Barilla Foundation provides a blueprint to do so.

“As leaders of the food industry work on aligning with the timebound targets of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement, a report providing concrete approaches is crucial. To achieve the SDGs, business leaders need to align their company’s performance, reporting, and monitoring with the SDGs, and to do so along their entire supply chains. The companies should also make efforts to expand the public’s awareness of sustainable and healthy lifestyles,” explained Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The Barilla Foundation – in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), and the Santa Chiara Lab of the University of Siena – has conducted an immersive and incisive look at how the food industry currently operates, and how it needs to adapt to the challenges the planet faces, including from climate change, urbanization, ocean pollution, and population growth.

The report “Fixing the Business of Food – The Food Industry and the SDG Challenge,” showcases best practices and recommendations in four areas:

1. Products that contribute to healthy and sustainable dietary patterns;

2. Sustainable production practices;

3. Sustainable global supply chains;

4. Good corporate citizenship

“To support the transformation to sustainable food systems, a change in business practices and more harmonized and comparable monitoring and reporting standards are needed. Such comparability will support the efforts by companies to set more ambitious targets in terms of the four dimensions of our framework,” said Angelo Riccaboni, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Siena and Chair of the Prima Foundation.

“Rethinking food production and consumption patterns starting from traditional knowledge translates into high social and cultural food values, which can boost the productivity of smallholder farmers, help reduce food loss and food waste and improve access of local productions to wider markets. In Italy, we have been working for years with the private sector which has taken important steps in the area of food reformulation, packaging waste reduction and sourcing quality ingredients,” said Emanuela C. Del Re, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy.

The report launch marks the first phase of a two-year project to raise awareness of the main challenges and opportunities for the food sector and identify effective sustainability pathways towards the achievement of the SDGs. The second phase will engage industry leaders to support the systematizing and upgrading the practice, reporting, monitoring, and public education efforts of the companies on SDG alignment. Additional recommendations are expected to be made available to the public and industry at the occasion of the UN General Assembly in 2020.

About the Barilla Foundation 

The Barilla Foundation is a multi-disciplinary research Center which studies the causes and effects on food created by economic, science, society and environmental factors. It produces science-based content that can be used to inform people and help them make responsible choices about food, nutrition, health and sustainability. All the Foundation’s work is monitored by its Advisory Board. For further information:

“Fixing the Business of Food – The Food Industry and the SDG Challenge” was written by the Barilla Foundation, in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) and the Santa Chiara Lab – University of Siena.

Download the report (pdf)