How can business harness the SDGs for greater impact in smallholder agricultural value chains?


(Samina Jain) #61

The final question is excellent and applies across sectors beyond businesses dealing with agricultural supply chains. As my most recent experience is in energy/extractives, we often use risk mitigation and building social license to operate as part of the business case. Does risk mitigation apply to food and beverage and agribusiness sectors?


(Uwe Gneiting) #62

Hi Samina,

Here are a couple of additional tactics that could be useful to build senior-level buy-in to the SDGs:

- Develop a sophisticated business case – i.e. not focused on short-term financial return but on the longer-term need to help building sustainable societies.

- Highlight existing initiatives by businesses in your industry (if there are) to highlight broader trends and competitive implications of not acting on the SDGs.

- Identify other internal allies who are likely to be more receptive to the need to engage on the SDGs and who can help to influence senior leadership.

-



Nicole Carta said:

Hi Samina,

I just posed a similar question above to Kate, as many of my partners in the private sector are struggling with similar issues in building the case to senior management. I believe that by focusing on the shared-value approach to business strategies and projects, which aim to bring business value to the company in a way that ensures value through the supply chain (so livable wages for workers/fair price points for SHs/environmentally safe working conditions), and presenting these strategies to senior leadership that can speak to their own business needs as well, you will get a lot more buy-in. You can then tie these approaches to the SDGs by linking to the relevant targets and indicators, and share with management that in fact, their projects will also support a global effort to combat poverty and inequality in the world (i.e. the SDGs). Starting with the business case up front can perhaps make the SDGs more approachable.

Samina Jain said:

Hi - my name is Samina Jain, a corporate responsibility and sustainable development professional with a deep interest in agricultural value chains, although my most recent experience has been in energy and water services.

I agree with the panelists' comments, but in my experience, senior managers with budgetary authority are not as aware of the SGDs, versus the subject matter experts within the company.

What advice do you have of linking the SGDs with the business case and raising awareness of the SGDs, beyond a one-off powerpoint explaining them to your senior executives?

Thank you.


(Simon Winter) #63

In response to Zahid's third question - one of the key things that needs to happen is to develop a more systematized and standardized way of both measuring and communicating progress against the SDGs - the SFL measurement framework is a great step forward on this - but is not comprehensive across all SDGs yet (Emily correct me if I am wrong).

Last year UNGC/Oxfam developed a framework to align use of poverty footprinting to the SDGs at light touch to deep levels depending on business appetite and resource availability etc.. In the process an extensive exercise was done on metrics and measurement. That can be adapted and used in a variety of ways that is broader than developing poverty footprinting exercises alone. It languishes at the moment as I understand it due to a lack of resources.

And then UNGC also has the SDG Compass and there are a number of other attempts at standardized ways of measuring.

The main challenge is how to get away from the urge to splurge on new systems every time a new organization sees this need but to create convergence - I welcome thoughts about that.


(Bianca Shead) #64

We have been working on a tool to help companies understand and communicate the way in which their operations connect to the SDGs - we're launching it on 19th Sept and we hope that lots of organisations will try it out. It aims to slightly reframe the targets in a business context and very quickly articulates which Goals are critical and where there might be gaps in an organisation's strategy - I'm really excited about sharing it more widely.

On measurement, it's the million dollar question! At this early stage, I think that it is incredibly useful for companies to share stories - of successes and failures. All the panellists have great examples of initiatives and interventions that have worked and we should be learning from and seeking to replicate these.

Building a more quantitative picture of impact is important in the long run and has already been discussed here to some extent, but I'd echo Kate's point that it absolutely has to be collaborative, so that we have the ability to understand the aggregated impact.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion. Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?


(Gianluca Nardi) #65

Dear Bello and Matti,

I believe that international development agencies could also have an important role in investing resources and making alliances with the private sector or brokering alliances between the public and private sector around the SDGs agenda in a way that it makes business sense for the private sector and it promotes more inclusive businesses around agriculture VCs. Pilot projects could demonstrate the benefits of this approach, if properly conducted and the impacts are properly measured, and bring additional resources from local or international investors.

Bello Oyedolapo said:

Thanks Matti, If I understand your opinion, it is that we try and create policies and atmosphere that favor SME and small farm holders.Should this be successful, businessess and investors would be drawn to invest.

Matti Kohonen said:

Dear Bello,

Maybe one way is to first create the policy environment for Smallholder agriculture in Nigeria with the support of SDG framework, and work on SME friendly policies in access to finance, business support and incubators to create an inclusive business policy environment - such a plan could be argued in terms of how it contributes to SDG 2 (poverty, hunger), as well as SDG 8 (decent work) to take an example of using the SDGs as a way to influence both the government and hte private sector to be more engaged in engaging with small-holder value chains. Some companies who support SME value chains will voluntarily already wish to source more from SME small-holders, and once you have a SME-friendly policy environment, larger companies will notice such initiatives and find it easier to invest in such value-chains.


Bello Oyedolapo said:

Dolapo from Male Centre of Excellence. Nigeria as an example is a developing country and with the SDG not really known to many people, it is virtually a difficult task to get businesses to invest in the agricultural sector much less to think in terms of sustainable development. Much agriculture done here is on the subsistence level. How can we get business to harness SDG to develop small farmholders in Nigeria bearing in mind that situations prevalent here are different from that in other countries?


(Samina Jain) #66

Thank you Uwe, I agree, and these are tactics we have used. However, the two most recent companies I worked with were not interested in being business leaders in this space, but were content to be in the middle of the pack because the competitive advantage of sustainable development was not compelling enough. I think measurement of impact (both short-term and long-term), along the lines of the third question, is important.

Uwe Gneiting said:

Hi Samina,

Here are a couple of additional tactics that could be useful to build senior-level buy-in to the SDGs:

- Develop a sophisticated business case – i.e. not focused on short-term financial return but on the longer-term need to help building sustainable societies.

- Highlight existing initiatives by businesses in your industry (if there are) to highlight broader trends and competitive implications of not acting on the SDGs.

- Identify other internal allies who are likely to be more receptive to the need to engage on the SDGs and who can help to influence senior leadership.

-



Nicole Carta said:

Hi Samina,

I just posed a similar question above to Kate, as many of my partners in the private sector are struggling with similar issues in building the case to senior management. I believe that by focusing on the shared-value approach to business strategies and projects, which aim to bring business value to the company in a way that ensures value through the supply chain (so livable wages for workers/fair price points for SHs/environmentally safe working conditions), and presenting these strategies to senior leadership that can speak to their own business needs as well, you will get a lot more buy-in. You can then tie these approaches to the SDGs by linking to the relevant targets and indicators, and share with management that in fact, their projects will also support a global effort to combat poverty and inequality in the world (i.e. the SDGs). Starting with the business case up front can perhaps make the SDGs more approachable.

Samina Jain said:

Hi - my name is Samina Jain, a corporate responsibility and sustainable development professional with a deep interest in agricultural value chains, although my most recent experience has been in energy and water services.

I agree with the panelists' comments, but in my experience, senior managers with budgetary authority are not as aware of the SGDs, versus the subject matter experts within the company.

What advice do you have of linking the SGDs with the business case and raising awareness of the SGDs, beyond a one-off powerpoint explaining them to your senior executives?

Thank you.


(Matti Kohonen) #67

Hi Zahid,

There is no single measure for SDG success for businesses but working towards making some level of ESG disclosure, carbon disclosure and tax transparent more common place is our aim in a broad way - as we have already with EU non-financial reporting, and public Country by Country tax reporting in certain sectors. So company reporting should try to align with SDGs and their financing.

Also in other SDG areas it would be best to align as much as possible with national SDG implementation plans in order to use similar measures as what governments are using in their statistical follow-up, or measures that somehow translate to governmental measures (e.g. lists of marginalised groups identified, themes for SDG measuring that are high-priority themes for government or global review). Also stakeholders are likely to monitor SDG success, e.g. health advocates, civil society, women’s organisations – and engaging with their priorities is a good idea of alignment. As civil society, we will measure SDG success based on government commitments made, e.g. correlating the expected need for more tax revenue mobilisation against targets to meet universal health that governments in Africa have agreed (Abuja targets on health financing being 15% of annual budget), or advocating a more equitable and effective tax collection under SDG 17.1.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion. Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?


(Kate Wylie) #68

I absolutely agree with you Simon. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could take lessons from the GHG Protocol where we now have an aligned global methodology for GHG measurement and apply this to the SDGs? Initiatives like the SFLab performance measurement workshops & COSA (which we continue to be a strong supporter of) are a great start on this. I think its also an opportunity to call upon each other to continue to drive for consistency, rather than create additional approaches.



Simon Winter said:

In response to Zahid's third question - one of the key things that needs to happen is to develop a more systematized and standardized way of both measuring and communicating progress against the SDGs - the SFL measurement framework is a great step forward on this - but is not comprehensive across all SDGs yet (Emily correct me if I am wrong).

Last year UNGC/Oxfam developed a framework to align use of poverty footprinting to the SDGs at light touch to deep levels depending on business appetite and resource availability etc.. In the process an extensive exercise was done on metrics and measurement. That can be adapted and used in a variety of ways that is broader than developing poverty footprinting exercises alone. It languishes at the moment as I understand it due to a lack of resources.

And then UNGC also has the SDG Compass and there are a number of other attempts at standardized ways of measuring.

The main challenge is how to get away from the urge to splurge on new systems every time a new organization sees this need but to create convergence - I welcome thoughts about that.


(Samina Jain) #69

Thank you Simon for the description of the various tools and I agree that convergence would be a good thing - with limited resources it is good not to duplicate. This is often an issue in the development industry!

Simon Winter said:

In response to Zahid's third question - one of the key things that needs to happen is to develop a more systematized and standardized way of both measuring and communicating progress against the SDGs - the SFL measurement framework is a great step forward on this - but is not comprehensive across all SDGs yet (Emily correct me if I am wrong).

Last year UNGC/Oxfam developed a framework to align use of poverty footprinting to the SDGs at light touch to deep levels depending on business appetite and resource availability etc.. In the process an extensive exercise was done on metrics and measurement. That can be adapted and used in a variety of ways that is broader than developing poverty footprinting exercises alone. It languishes at the moment as I understand it due to a lack of resources.

And then UNGC also has the SDG Compass and there are a number of other attempts at standardized ways of measuring.

The main challenge is how to get away from the urge to splurge on new systems every time a new organization sees this need but to create convergence - I welcome thoughts about that.


(Bello Oyedolapo) #70

One of the ways for a business to measure its contribution to the SDG in smallholder supply chain is to look for indicators that are telltales of impact on the smallholder supply chain. Such as how it has grown in size and profit

Gianluca Nardi said:

Thank you Zahid for your question,

Defining a smart set of indicators that feed into the SDGs targets will be a key determinant of successful projects. Ideally, the indicators should also be effectively used internally and externally to monitor the progress, to learn and to make managerial decisions following what was learned.

The indicators should also measure not only the numbers of the impacts but also the systemic changes that it is causing, the changes in the rules of the game, in the public policies and in the corporate behaviours.

Tracking the changes that are happening within the same companies would have a huge value in terms of tracking how companies are addressing issues at a deeper level that involves their business.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion. Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?


(Samina Jain) #71

Great, Bianca, I look forward to finding more about your tool! I agree that both qualitative and quantitative measures are important.

Bianca Shead said:

We have been working on a tool to help companies understand and communicate the way in which their operations connect to the SDGs - we're launching it on 19th Sept and we hope that lots of organisations will try it out. It aims to slightly reframe the targets in a business context and very quickly articulates which Goals are critical and where there might be gaps in an organisation's strategy - I'm really excited about sharing it more widely.

On measurement, it's the million dollar question! At this early stage, I think that it is incredibly useful for companies to share stories - of successes and failures. All the panellists have great examples of initiatives and interventions that have worked and we should be learning from and seeking to replicate these.

Building a more quantitative picture of impact is important in the long run and has already been discussed here to some extent, but I'd echo Kate's point that it absolutely has to be collaborative, so that we have the ability to understand the aggregated impact.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion. Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?


(Nicole Carta) #72

Great comment Gianluca, fully agree and would also underline the importance of working among sector peers to see how industries as a whole can coordinate to achieve greater results, faster. This is still new for many industries but there are certainly good models and examples of working among traditional competitors in a pre-competitive way to align efforts. A new launch will occur this month for agribusiness value chain actors - upstream -to mirror the consumer goods forum, called the Global Agri-Business alliance, co-launched by Olam and WBCSD.


Gianluca Nardi said:

Thank you Zahid for your question,

Defining a smart set of indicators that feed into the SDGs targets will be a key determinant of successful projects. Ideally, the indicators should also be effectively used internally and externally to monitor the progress, to learn and to make managerial decisions following what was learned.

The indicators should also measure not only the numbers of the impacts but also the systemic changes that it is causing, the changes in the rules of the game, in the public policies and in the corporate behaviours.

Tracking the changes that are happening within the same companies would have a huge value in terms of tracking how companies are addressing issues at a deeper level that involves their business.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion. Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?


(Simon Winter) #73

I think one of the tricky things for companies in aligning to national SDG plans is the potential diversity of ways that individual countries are going to measure their progress and the stress that can play on companies operating across many countries. This is where a UN level platform that engages with companies like UNGC has a critical role to play to get things more standardized and simpler. What business platform is best to engage there?


(Uwe Gneiting) #74

Two general points: First, I think the starting point to measure and communicate SDG contributions is to have a solid baseline assessment on what supply chain impact looks like and to be transparent about these findings (‘know and show’). We have seen more and more companies conducting impact assessments of their agricultural supply chains, which is a promising sign. However, the quality of these assessments has varied, highlighting the need to develop and disseminate robust tools and methodologies that allow for an SDG-adequate assessment of impacts.

Second, ideally these assessments should then form the basis to formulate clear goals and action plans including time-bound benchmarks. All assessments and progress reports should be made available publicly and regularly monitored in order to make progress transparent



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion. Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #75

We have come to the end of the live segment of this discussion. We'll keep the discussion open, so please continue to posts your insights!

Thank you so much to all our panellists, and to all of you for joining.

This discussion is part of our Challenge on Agriculture and the SDGs, supported by SABMiller, Mars and DFID and run in partnership with Sustainable Food Lab. For more information on the Challenge, visit: http://challenge134.businessfightspoverty.org/


(Gianluca Nardi) #76

Hi Bello,

I absolutely agree. Human interest stories can be great communication tools, but also systematizing / documenting the pilot experiences to communicate compelling evidence around the positive business impact of interventions around specific SDGs can have the effect of attracting additional investment.

Bello Oyedolapo said:

One of the ways for a business to measure its contribution to the SDG in smallholder supply chain is to look for indicators that are telltales of impact on the smallholder supply chain. Such as how it has grown in size and profit

Gianluca Nardi said:

Thank you Zahid for your question,

Defining a smart set of indicators that feed into the SDGs targets will be a key determinant of successful projects. Ideally, the indicators should also be effectively used internally and externally to monitor the progress, to learn and to make managerial decisions following what was learned.

The indicators should also measure not only the numbers of the impacts but also the systemic changes that it is causing, the changes in the rules of the game, in the public policies and in the corporate behaviours.

Tracking the changes that are happening within the same companies would have a huge value in terms of tracking how companies are addressing issues at a deeper level that involves their business.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thanks for the great discussion. Let's move on to our final question:

Q3: How can business best measure and communicate its contribution to the SDGs in the smallholder supply chain context?


(Matti Kohonen) #77

Hi Samina,

take for instance the commitment under the health SDGs, take target "3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all."

This will be one of the most costly SDGs to achieve in terms of government revenue and private sector investment, if every person is to have access to either government or private sector health insurance, that will mean additional revenue mobilisation (public and private) and new markets for health related products (medication, procurement for new hospitals), e.g. Ghana has a publicly committed aim of universal health coverage. They created a National Health Insurance Scheme in 2004 to realise this aim, and I expect many more developing countries to move into creating national health insurance systems as a way of driving up health expenditure as a result of there now being a SDG Goal 3, and target 3.8 against it.

I think some of the resources and real-world examples provided by the panelists will be useful tools.

Matti Kohonen said:


Hi Samina,

My advice is that making the business case is critical to senior management. SDGs provide signals of where governments are likely to focus in terms of their government spending, but also in terms of industrial policy as areas like climate change and decent work are SDG goals and targets. So there will be new business opportunities if you consieder that there is now a greater likelihood of some of these goals being met (and MDG period does show that the goals / targets do drive policy). Besides policy guidance, now the SDGs are supposed to provide a road map for the private sector as well - so expect other busineses to align with the SDG framework, and this creates new investable opportunities that you'd need to map in a number of countries.


Samina Jain said:

What advice do you have of linking the SGDs with the business case and raising awareness of the SGDs, beyond a one-off powerpoint explaining them to your senior executives?


(Emily Shipman) #78

That is right, Simon. The Shared Approaches Framework is not comprehensive across all SDGs. It is based on a generic theory of change for how business typically invests in smallholder farming systems. It would be a useful activity to map the SAF to the SDG targets/indicators.

Simon Winter said:

In response to Zahid's third question - one of the key things that needs to happen is to develop a more systematized and standardized way of both measuring and communicating progress against the SDGs - the SFL measurement framework is a great step forward on this - but is not comprehensive across all SDGs yet (Emily correct me if I am wrong).

Last year UNGC/Oxfam developed a framework to align use of poverty footprinting to the SDGs at light touch to deep levels depending on business appetite and resource availability etc.. In the process an extensive exercise was done on metrics and measurement. That can be adapted and used in a variety of ways that is broader than developing poverty footprinting exercises alone. It languishes at the moment as I understand it due to a lack of resources.

And then UNGC also has the SDG Compass and there are a number of other attempts at standardized ways of measuring.

The main challenge is how to get away from the urge to splurge on new systems every time a new organization sees this need but to create convergence - I welcome thoughts about that.


(Chloe Azria) #79

Hello all,

I work for the Rapino Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in Haiti . Unfortunately, I find that the private sector is unable to uphold the SDGs in a weak/failed state. I think the question should be how can SDGs be leveraged politically to instigate change in international and government policies. When the agricultural sector has no infrastructure/ high risk/ trade barriers these challenges need to be met at the state and international level.

Haiti is a prime example of an agrarian state that went awry due to its weakness in negotiating international trade policies. In 1994 the Clinton administration pressured Haiti to lower its tariffs on rice which slumped market prices with US subsidized rice causing thousands of Haitian rice farmers lose their livelihoods. How can we expect the private sector in agriculture to promote the SDG2 goal when it is powerless in such situations? Why would you invest in this sector when you can wake up this year and find out all your investments in the Haitian peanut sector have gone to waste because the USDA decides to send 500 metic tons of peanuts for free to Haiti?

SDGs need to be leveraged politically in order for us to realize targets 2.a, 2.b and 2.c. But whose job is it to do this?


(Samina Jain) #80

Thank you for your response, Matti. I agree, that is a big challenge. I know South Africa also recently launched a National Health Insurance scheme. I am not as familiar with the health care and pharmaceutical companies leading this space, but it will be interesting to see if they are using this SGD in their communication tools both internally and externally, and how they are measuring their impact (beyond number of people covered).

Matti Kohonen said:

Hi Samina,

take for instance the commitment under the health SDGs, take target "3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all."

This will be one of the most costly SDGs to achieve in terms of government revenue and private sector investment, if every person is to have access to either government or private sector health insurance, that will mean additional revenue mobilisation (public and private) and new markets for health related products (medication, procurement for new hospitals), e.g. Ghana has a publicly committed aim of universal health coverage. They created a National Health Insurance Scheme in 2004 to realise this aim, and I expect many more developing countries to move into creating national health insurance systems as a way of driving up health expenditure as a result of there now being a SDG Goal 3, and target 3.8 against it.

I think some of the resources and real-world examples provided by the panelists will be useful tools.

Matti Kohonen said:


Hi Samina,

My advice is that making the business case is critical to senior management. SDGs provide signals of where governments are likely to focus in terms of their government spending, but also in terms of industrial policy as areas like climate change and decent work are SDG goals and targets. So there will be new business opportunities if you consieder that there is now a greater likelihood of some of these goals being met (and MDG period does show that the goals / targets do drive policy). Besides policy guidance, now the SDGs are supposed to provide a road map for the private sector as well - so expect other busineses to align with the SDG framework, and this creates new investable opportunities that you'd need to map in a number of countries.


Samina Jain said:

What advice do you have of linking the SGDs with the business case and raising awareness of the SGDs, beyond a one-off powerpoint explaining them to your senior executives?