New Principles for Responsible Investment Agriculture and Food Systems Published
12/30/2014

The Committee on World Food Safety (CFS) has published, following consultation, its Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems.

Online PR News – 30-December-2014 – Geneva – Investment in agriculture and food systems supports not only this industry, but also extends the benefits of increased business to the service sector, manufacturers and processors. Responsible investment, as defined by the CFS Principles, goes further and sets out 10 Principles that, if implemented, will help to support initiatives that contribute to creating sustainable development. This includes, delivering sustainable livelihoods, creating good quality jobs for agricultural and food workers, eliminating child labour and promoting social wellbeing, thereby increasing economic growth.

10 PRINCIPLES FOR RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SYSTEMS

Principle 1: Contribute to food security and nutrition
Principle 2: Contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic development and the eradication of poverty
Principle 3: Foster gender equality and women’s empowerment
Principle 4: Engage and empower youth
Principle 5: Respect tenure of land, fisheries, forests and access to water
Principle 6: Conserve and sustainably manage natural resources, increase resilience, and reduce disaster risks
Principle 7: Respect cultural heritage and traditional knowledge, and support diversity and innovation
Principle 8: Promote safe and healthy agriculture and food systems
Principle 9: Incorporate inclusive and transparent governance structures, processes, and grievance mechanisms
Principle 10: Assess and address impacts and promote accountability
Food producers, processors and manufacturers, have a vital role to play in the successful implementation of the CFS RAI Principles. At the entry point to the food supply chain, the scheme introduces protection for small holders and farmers, the backbone of food production in developing markets, and empowers them to become actors in their own development.

Further up the food supply chain, food businesses seeking to invest, or to attract external investment in their projects will need to be able to demonstrate adherence to the RAI Principles. Food businesses need to apply the Principles with a focus on mitigating and managing risks to maximise the positive effect on production, as well as sustainability.

Increased food production, funded by responsible investment, should be synonymous with a clear focus on empowerment and equality for workers, respect for land tenure, conservation, safety and governance, as well as improved accountability.

The CFS RAI Principles put the onus on the industry to attract investment, from within, as well as external sources, by casting off some of the worst aspects of its reputation. For example, low wages, poor terms and conditions, and in the worst cases land grabs.

METHODOLOGY

These Principles were developed by a CFS Open Ended Working Group and are based on an inclusive process of consultations that took place from November 2013 to March 2014. The global scope of the project has been reflected in the regional consultations and workshops held in Africa, Europe and Central Asia, North America, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Near East. In addition, the working group has also received feedback through an electronic consultation. Consultations included governments, UN agencies, civil society and nongovernmental organisations, international agricultural research institutions, private sector associations and private philanthropic foundations, as well as international and regional financial institutions.

IMPLEMENTATION

Applicable to all sectors and all stages of agriculture and food systems the Principles are complementary but not every Principle may be relevant for every investment, the full details of which can be obtained by reading the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems in full.

Investors, shareholders and authorities will want to know whether the principles are respected, and effectively implemented. The food industry will need to prepare for final buyers not only insisting that production comes from investments that respect these Principles, but also that adherence can be proven.