Ending world hunger: Danone wants to help achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals

Summary

In September 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 sustainable development goals to « end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all » by 2030. On September 19, 2016, during Climate Week, the Future of Spaceship Earth report exploring commitments made by large companies to help achieve those goals, was published. Danone CEO, Emmanuel Faber, was invited to talk about the second goal, « End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. » He took this opportunity to share the diet and sustainable development vision promoted by Danone.

23Sept.
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In 2015, Danone published its ‘Manifesto’, in which the group declared it wanted to revolutionize diet by going beyond just food and drink to take into account flavor, nutrition, preferences and also social and cultural aspects surrounding food. This prefaced Danone’s efforts to achieve the second sustainable development goal, acting as speaker to the United Nations Private Sector Forum (UNPSF).

When setting this goal, the United Nations also set a series of more specific ones to achieve by 2030: ensuring that nobody goes hungry, as well as ending malnutrition, doubling agricultural productivity and ensuring food production systems are viable. Danone, too, is focused on these topics, as Emmanuel Faber confirms: « In addition to other areas, we must tackle all types of malnutrition, ensure production cycles are sustainable and rebuild biodiversity. »

Fighting malnutrition

Among the initiatives launched by the group to combat malnutrition is one involving the development of targeted tools to identify eating habits of certain communities and evaluate specific nutritional needs at a local level.

Once complete, Danone’s teams can use the study results to develop or adapt their products. For example, Phosphatine cereals have been enriched to compensate for iron deficiencies recorded in children from Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. Danone has also launched educational programs to teach people the importance of a healthy diet, regular hydration and monitored physical activity. Examples include « Mum, Dad, I prefer water » in Poland and « Eat like a champ! » in the United Kingdom. These programs are structured according to the target community’s eating habits and therefore enjoy strong social and local support bases.

Preserving production cycles

Announced through an ambitious Climate Policy during the Cop21, Danone targets Zero Net carbon through solutions co-created with the local Ecosystems by 2050. Danone will work to reduce the carbon footprint of its entire production chain, from agriculture to the end of life of packaging. To achieve this, food must be produced with a focus on sustainable cycles. Therefore Danone, and others, must boost efforts to reduce packaging weight, source them in a sustainable way, recycle them and help develop plant-based materials.

Working with local communities

Lastly, food must be grown in a way that respects human ecosystems. That is why the company has progressively introduced social innovation platforms: danone.communities in 2007, which finances social businesses involved in nutrition and access to water; the Danone Ecosystem Fund in 2009, which partners NGOs and local Danone subsidiaries to create employment and support local ecosystems throughout the Danone value chain; and the Livelihoods Fund in 2011, which fights poverty, environmental damage and climate change by helping small-scale farmers improve their livelihoods in a sustainable way. At the heart of each of these funds’ approaches is the belief that we must build strong partnerships with NGOs and local communities to create sustainable solutions together.

For Emmanuel Faber, «The challenges of world hunger can be met only if we are able to develop radically different approaches, combining economic, environmental and social objectives.»

This holistic approach to diet supported by Danone will soon translate into new goals for the company, including the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals.“We are designing new goals for the company that will go further than just delivering growth and profit,” says Faber. “We are fully aware that we won’t be able to reach these company goals by ourselves and need to do it with friends and partners. We have a very powerful tool with our Manifesto that gathers all the Danone people around a global vision. This vision is open to anybody who is interested in joining us to build an alimentation revolution.”

Learn more about The Future of Spaceshift Earth report

Learn more about Danone’s actions toward « Zero hunger »