Global supply chains and the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals

Next week, government, civil society and business leaders will gather in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). UNGA week is an excellent opportunity to connect with others at the intersections of geopolitics, business and the common good. As a company focused on nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way, Cargill will be engaged in discussions on how our global supply chains can impact local economies and communities for the better.

There are direct connections between our efforts to nourish the world and the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted in 2015, the Global Goals, lay out an ambitious agenda to “mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, reduce inequality and tackle climate change” by 2030.

There has been measured progress, but the Global Goals are ambitious. If we are to achieve them in the next 13 years, it’s clear that more needs to be done. Specifically, we’ll have to find new ways of working together and combine our creative forces to build “a decent life for all on a sustainable planet,” which is this year’s General Assembly theme.

Cargill is committed to doing our part to help push the Global Goals forward. We can achieve that by conducting our business the right way. Our main focus is on sourcing, making, and moving food around the world, and developing innovative ways to nourish people and the planet. We make connections across the global food system. As we do, we build and strengthen global and local food economies that have a profound impact on people – farmers, customers, consumers, and our employees.

The Global Goals give us a framework for how these food and agriculture economies can be a force for good.

· End hunger: We pride ourselves on making safe, nutritious and affordable food and getting it from areas of surplus to where they are needed most.

· Promote productive employment: We have an unyielding commitment to safety for all 150,000 Cargill employees and our contactors. We aim to send every single person home safely every day and we are committed to global inclusion and diversity.

· Invest in innovation and infrastructure: We’ve built infrastructure ranging from port terminals and roads to schools and water pipes in the communities where we work.

· Take steps on climate action and ending deforestation: We are working to eliminate deforestation from our supply chains and are steadily reducing our greenhouse gas emissions across our operations.

· Strengthen global partnerships: We build strong local, regional and global partnerships and advance functioning markets and responsible trade as a way to nourish the world and protect the planet.

As we work across national boundaries, there’s only so much we can accomplish by ourselves. To maximize our impact we have to work with partners who complement our strengths. Individually, each of us has an impact, but together, we can create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

That’s why, for years, we have been working with partners to enrich the communities where we operate and help the millions of farmers we do business with around the world build prosperous, sustainable livelihoods.

One such example is our work with CARE in Central America. CARE, one of Cargill’s global partners, is at the forefront of fighting poverty worldwide. Our partnership started in 1959 and has grown to this day. Together, we have improved the lives of more than 300,000 people in Africa, Asia and Latin America since 2013.

In Central America, we focused on 66 communities in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, reaching almost 30,000 people. Using Cargill’s knowledge of supply chains and best farming practices, and CARE’s expertise in community building and gender issues, we focused on training farmers, connecting them to markets and credit, and building awareness in their communities about food security and nutrition, all with a focus on women.

As a result, we ended up with more resilient local communities and more prosperous, healthier households. Farm yields went up across the board. Most notably, yellow maize production in Honduras increased more than five-fold. Household incomes followed, more than doubling in Guatemala and Honduras. Female micro-entrepreneurs in Honduras saw their access to credit shoot up by almost 40 percent.

This is just one example of a successful partnership to help build one piece of a more equitable global society that doesn’t put undue burdens on the planet. Imagine what we could do if we really set our minds to thinking creatively about how the private sector can continue to connect its core business to advance the Global Goals.

I am optimistic that next week’s UNGA meetings will yield tangible outcomes and new creative ways that our global supply chains, connected with the insights and capabilities of our partners, will be a catalyst for faster, and even more meaningful progress.

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