2. Zero Hunger

How business leadership can advance Goal 2 on Eliminating Hunger

Hunger and malnutrition pose significant barriers to human wellbeing and economic development, with nearly one in eight people and one in four children suffering from chronic malnutrition. These pressures threaten to increase with intensifying pressures on natural resources, while impacts from climate change will also frustrate food systems. Further, farmers around the world, making up a large share of employment in developing countries, struggle to make a livelihood from agricultural activities.

Businesses play a central role in providing food to communities and combating hunger and malnutrition. Without careful management and safeguards, company operations can negatively impact the local food security of communities surrounding their operations and supply chain. A particular problem is abuse of land rights through land grabbing. Businesses in all sectors should ensure that land used throughout their supply chain is not, and has not, been taken without free, prior and informed consent from local communities. Companies can also negatively impact communities by restricting access to agricultural inputs including seeds, water supplies, knowledge and finance. Responsible supply chain practices that respect land rights and support smallholder farms can help two-thirds of the world’s population address hunger and achieve economic development. Business is also an emitter of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to climate change and thereby can exacerbate hunger through impacting yields.

Companies can provide leadership on Goal 2 to eliminate hunger. Business in the agriculture and food sectors, but also a variety of related sectors such as chemicals and biotechnology, are crucial to eliminating hunger through product and process innovation that reaches all global regions and communities. A key way to address hunger is by improving productivity and sustainability, market access, and access to opportunities for upgrading into more value-added activities for small-scale agriculture. This serves to provide more abundant and secure food supply for local communities and directly raise incomes of smallholder farmers. Companies can innovate, invest, and share knowledge to help increase the productivity of farmers in its supply chain and wider communities; and, they can restructure their supply chains such that a greater proportion of revenues goes to the farmers and their workers by reducing the need for intermediaries that exploit their vulnerability for their own gain. Companies can also lead by improving food distribution channels to combat malnutrition in areas with limited access to healthy foods and develop fortified crops and processed foods that are compatible with development goals for human and environmental health. To combat the significant global food waste problem, companies can lead in the development of technologies and processes to eliminate food waste from their end-to-end operations, to ensure better food availability to communities around the world.

Businesses can benefit from ending hunger as it allows them to access new and previously underserved markets. Further, existing malnutrition levels are estimated to be as high as 11 per cent of national GDP per year. The greatest market opportunities today are also the areas seeing the fastest population growth, which will increase demand for food up to 200 per cent from current levels by 2050. In many cases, reducing food waste directly improves the financial baseline: deploying sustainable agricultural solutions and reducing food loss and waste are each projected to deliver over $650 billion in annual value by 2030.

Eliminating hunger and improving agricultural incomes can have direct positive impacts on advancing Goals 1, 3 and 8 by increasing rural and developing country incomes and access to nutrition. Given the high rate of women farmers, especially in Africa and Asia, progress on Goal 2 can also further efforts to achieve gender equality (Goal 5). At the same time, businesses should be careful to reduce the risk of negative impacts. Intensive agricultural practices risk water scarcity and pollution (Goal 6), greenhouse gas emissions (Goal 13) and soil degradation (Goal 15). Leading businesses manage these risks through support for sustainable farming practices.

Do your actions satisfy the Leadership Qualities?

Guiding Questions to apply to the Leadership Qualities to your business






  • Is your company committed to supporting the achievement of Goal 2? Have you developed a holistic strategy that reflects this commitment, covering end-to-end operation and the wider community?
  • Are you committed to learn from your actions and do you have processes in place to improve them accordingly?
  • Is your strategy supported by the highest levels of management, including the Board of Directors?

Key Considerations

An explicit commitment to reduce hunger and malnutrition, observed throughout the company, is essential for long-term success in addressing Goal 2.

  • Do your actions achieve long-term outcomes that greatly exceed those resulting from current industry practice?
  • Are your actions aligned with what is needed to achieve Goal 2?

Key Considerations

Ambition on Goal 2 must bring about the fundamental shifts required to eliminate hunger at scale, which often means the impact of action goes far beyond own operations, supporting communities surrounding end-to-end operations, including that living wages are paid.

  • Is support for Goal 2 embedded across all organizational functions?
  • Are staff and board incentives aligned with achieving Goal 2?

Key Considerations

Consistency of the actions of all departments is required to ensure that all the company addresses hunger from all angles that it can influence, including through its external communications, government relations, and legal departments.

  • Do you proactively look for opportunities to partner with Governments, UN agencies, suppliers, civil society organizations, industry peers and other stakeholders to inform how to advance Goal 2?

Key Considerations

Collaboration for Goal 2 requires working across disjointed markets to manage land acquisition and food resources to end hunger. Foodshed-level management requires stakeholder engagement with a range of suppliers, consumers, and retailers to manage food resources to meet the maximum need with minimum waste.

  • Do you publicly express your commitment to advance Goal 2?
  • Do you identify, monitor, and report on impacts, including potentially adverse impacts?
  • Do you mitigate risks associated with your action?
  • Do you remediate negative impacts associated with this action?
  • Do you engage stakeholders in a meaningful way?

Key Considerations

Monitoring and publicly reporting on sustainable land acquisition, agriculture, and consumption practices is key for realizing Goal 2. Where action reaches areas with vulnerable populations and ecosystems, social and environmental safeguards must be in place, and risks of negative impacts carefully managed.

Business Actions


Support sustainable small-scale agriculture


Improve food systems to end hunger


Eliminate food waste

How taking action on Goal 2 is interconnected with other Goals

The Global Goals are inherently interconnected. Action taken toward one Goal can support or hinder the achievement of others. Identifying and addressing these interconnections will help business to build holistic and systemic solutions that amplify progress and minimize negative impacts. To help build a greater understanding, we have illustrated some of the ways in which the Goals connect. These are not exhaustive, and we encourage business to consider how they apply in their own operations.

Maximise likelihood of positive impact on:

Improved agricultural productivity, especially amongst smallholder farmers, will increase incomes in rural areas (Goal 1), where the majority of incomes are tied to farming, which creates opportunity for women and children to pursue education (Goal 4) boosting gender equality (Goal 5). In areas with conflict between forest resources and agriculture, sustainable agricultural practices, that respect rights around land use, reduce deforestation (Goal 15), while providing living wages to laborers supports progress on decent work (Goal 8). Introducing climate smart agriculture practices contributes to community resilience to climate change (Goal 13). Business action to research and produce goods and services that reduce malnutrition and hunger will directly advance goals related to health and well being (Goal 3) and support sustainable industry in developing countries if conducted inclusively (Goal 9).

Minimise risk of negative impact on:

Water-intensive irrigation techniques and fertilizer use may improve agricultural yields over the short-term, but may exhaust the long-term productivity of agricultural land and place stress on water resources (Goal 6). It may also produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions (Goal 13) and fertiliser runoff into water resources (Goal 14). Efforts to increase calorific intake in undernourished areas and irresponsible marketing of high sugar products, particularly to children, can create chronic health issues such as obesity and diabetes (Goal 3). These can be managed with education campaigns and products that deliver nutrition along with calories. Labour abuses in agricultural activities, including child and forced labour, must be replaced with decent work and living wages in order to support Goal 8.

Goal 2 Targets

Targets of Goal 2

  1. End hunger and ensure year-round access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food
  2. End malnutrition and address nutritional needs of all groups
  3. Double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers
  4. Ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices
  5. Maintain the genetic diversity of plants and animals though seed and plant banks and share benefits of genetic resources and traditional knowledge