This report summarizes the joint effort of four organizations to support the food industry in aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals: The Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), and the Santa Chiara Lab of the University of Siena (SCL). The first stage of our Project on Sustainability in the Food Sector preliminarily assesses the industry’s progress to date in aligning with the SDGs. In the next phase, we will work with industry leaders, in cooperation with other stakeholders, to recommend SDG-based operating principles and metrics for the future.

Sustainable Development is the globally agreed holistic framework for addressing the world’s economic, social, and environmental challenges. All 193 UN member states signed Agenda 2030 with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement that calls on all nations to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 ̊ C. The obligations are society-wide, including citizens, businesses, and civil-society organizations. They will shape markets and the behavior of businesses, government, and civil society in the years to come. A prerequisite is good corporate citizenship, including honesty in business practices, fair play with stakeholders, and business practices that do not impose harms on others or the environment. 

The Food Industry is increasingly aligning its practices with the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement in order to promote its financial, social, environmental, and legal sustainability. (For purposes of brevity, we will use the phrase SDG alignment to include the Paris Climate Agreement, which is incorporated in SDG 13). Our basic conclusion in this first report is that many industry leaders have already taken important steps towards alignment with the SDGs but that much more work is needed in terms of business action towards sustainable development, as well as to make sustainability reporting more systematic, detailed, and useful for all parties: the companies, the investors, civil society organizations, and the public.
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