Balancing Ethical Practices In Sustainable Food Production And Agriculture – Returning to stability is the start of an exciting journey. We want to restore sustainability to the millions of farmers, small-scale miners and workers who are still facing poverty, facing growing inequality and struggling to cope with the effects of climate change.
We need a new economy. An economy that works for all, with a good balance between local economic development and globalization. This fine balance – which we call glocalization – will require farmers and workers to increase and renew ownership of sustainable development.
Balancing Ethical Practices In Sustainable Food Production And Agriculture
Many farmers and workers are connected to the global value chain. Through buyers and wholesalers, their products enter large global markets. This is especially true for products such as coffee, cocoa, tea, sugar, palm oil and soy.
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The main problem in these large global supply chains is inequality: the powerful players in the supply chain are getting richer, while the producers are not benefiting from the price increase in the commodity chain.
A key objective of the Regional Transformation Pathway is to reduce inequalities in supply chains and ensure that farmers and workers earn a decent living income.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of localized, robust and resilient food systems that can work in any situation and ensure that nearby farmers provide adequate and affordable food to citizens. Soon, more than 80% of the world’s food will be consumed in cities. Much of the food consumed in these cities is now highly processed industrial products containing high amounts of fat, sugar and salt, bought from global vendors. If more people in these cities were able to consume locally grown and processed food and adopt sustainable and healthy diets (such as planet-healthy diets), this could bring significant benefits:
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Schools are ideal environments for activating these local food systems and promoting planet-healthy eating. Teaching healthy eating at an early age has a long-term impact as students take their new behaviors back to their local communities. In many countries, students eat at least one main meal a day at school, making it an interesting market for local food. Other public institutions such as hospitals and governments can also be interesting partners in stimulating demand for local products. The total market for social food services in low- and middle-income countries is estimated to be substantial at €50 billion per year.
A third approach is dedicated to improving labor conditions for workers. This pathway is particularly important in industrial goods sectors such as mining and textiles, as well as large-scale processing industries.
Our current economic system has prioritized capital over labor. It is detrimental to community well-being. As half the world of work is in vulnerable and disadvantaged jobs, the need for decent work is minimized as a matter of good practice. On top of this, many workers in agriculture, mining and industry are at risk of losing their jobs as a result of modernization. Capital-intensive technologies often lead to automation, mechanization and urbanization, which in turn lead to increased unemployment. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is fast approaching and jobs are at risk. Unity will encourage producers (farmers, factories, mine owners and companies) to provide decent employment, safe working conditions and a real living wage to all workers, with special attention to meet the specific conditions and needs of women and youth.
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As sustainability becomes mainstream, more and more companies are keen to demonstrate their credentials by adopting a variety of certifications, labels and ethical commitments. Analyzing emerging initiatives, we see an erosion of credibility. So we need to withdraw this concept. Sustainable development means prosperity, inclusiveness and production in balance with nature. For Solidaridad, the triple bottom line is: farmers first.
After 50 years of working with various players in supply chains as diverse as textiles, soy, cattle, gold, sugar and palm oil, we have learned a lot. We have learned that voluntary standards are not enough. Remember the Fairtrade Mark? It was a good start, but it didn’t bring about enough change.
Most small farmers, laborers and miners still live below the subsistence income level. So while Fairtrade is successful and we continue to work to increase consumer demand for sustainably produced products, more needs to be done to achieve real change. In our 2016-2020 strategy, we have gone beyond certification to develop national sustainability standards and provide digital farming solutions based on self-assessment, peer review and continuous improvement. We hope to go even further in the coming years.
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Now is the time to take a more fundamental approach to sustainability. We must once again give farmers and workers ownership of sustainable development. We will urge businesses and governments to walk the talk: simply expressing a commitment to sustainability is not enough. Things really need to change at the farmers and workers level! We increase our commitment to monitoring global progress towards sustainable development, such as by publishing regular reports on the state of the world’s smallholder farmers. Only sustainability that positively changes the reality of farmers and workers can be considered real sustainability.
The old notion that there is only one measure of success; Profit, must end. We want to work with CEOs and investors so they can lead this shift from false product claims to real sustainability policies, and from elite-controlled supply chains to inclusive ownership models.
Much of the price we pay for food and produce must go to farmers and the workers who produce them, and our supply chain and infrastructure must enable them to farm and produce sustainably.
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When even sustainable development initiatives that improve livelihoods fail to benefit small farmers and laborers, we are forced to conclude that sustainable development has lost its true meaning. There is no such thing as sustainability when the people who produce these products live in poverty and there is no sustainable management of natural resources. We want to return sustainability to its owners: producers. Sustainability needs to be reflected in their everyday reality. This needs to be translated into respect for the fair share of people, the planet and everyone in the chain.
Interventions can only be truly successful if producers have a business case. If they don’t win, the change won’t last. This means that sustainability should lead to more income and better job opportunities for farmers and workers. A lot of the money we spend in stores should go to producers.
This principle of doing no harm includes the effects of climate change, nature conservation and better protection of soil, water and air. Whatever the farming community produces, it must not pollute the soil, water or air.
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Ensure that often neglected groups – such as women, youth and indigenous people – have equal opportunities to participate and benefit. We need to address power imbalances and ensure genuine ownership of communities through established participation, influence and the ability to effect change.
Our plans to achieve true sustainability are divided into four levels of intervention measured through 14 key performance indicators.
These four levels are closely linked. Their overall goal is to build resilient communities that achieve prosperity, balance with nature and inclusion through sustainable supply chains. Our key strategic path for change is at all four levels to create an economy that works for all.
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Good practices not only refer to agricultural practices but also include financial literacy, fair wages, worker safety, good management practices and legal compliance. But using digital solutions to increase intelligence as a prerequisite for market and financial access. Everything we do on our farm or industrial site falls within the scope of good practice. Through our comprehensive good practice programme, farmers will improve their social, environmental and economic performance.
Farmers and workers rely on surrounding business ecosystem partners such as service providers, input suppliers and off-takers. Farmers can move into more commercial and profitable businesses only if they rely on a strong and supportive business ecosystem.
Subsidiary policies can take many forms. They include formal and informal, voluntary and mandatory codes, standards, regulations, policies, standards and practices. While voluntary reforms are great, many mandatory policies and structures are needed to bring things up to a realistic level. Once a small number of early innovators demonstrate the benefits of certain sustainable practices, supportive policies can help the late majority come on board. Ideally, promoting corporate respect for human rights would require a smart mix of mandatory, voluntary, national and international measures.
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For sustainable practices to be truly successful, there needs to be demand for sustainably produced products. That is why we are working according to the needs of the market. Historically, we have worked with private companies in international supply chains and with consumers in Europe and the United States. In the next 5 years, we will expand our business scope to local consumers in the Southern Hemisphere, especially (mega cities),
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