Tuesday 13th March 9.00-9.30 should business even care about the SDGs when developing smallholder policy? The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their development over the next 15 years. Many of the goals laid out in the SDGs apply directly to the work companies are already doing in smallholder supply chains. So, if company policy is already in place, why bother with the SDGs?
9.30-10.30 How do you connect the all-encompassing SDGs to your smallholder supply chains? The SDGs are ambitious, all-encompassing global targets. Sustainability departments are often tasked with turning high-level policy into action on-the-ground. But with the scale of the SDGs this task can seem all the more daunting.
11.00-12.00 Can the SDGs really drive internal alignment between buyers and sustainability? The age-old battle of uniting procurement and sustainability teams has been discussed at length. But part of the draw of engaging in the SDGs is the potential to engage buyers in a common set of objectives, based around one common language. Is this enough to incentivise buyers and to align priorities? Or does it simply present an additional check box barrier to buyers getting the best price?
12.00-13.00 Powered by women: how to bridge the gender equality gap within smallholder farming Within agricultural supply chains, there is a massive gender gap in low-income countries. There is a distinct difference between the resources and rights available to men who work the land and those available to women who do the same.
16.30-17.30 Building farmer resilience against changing weather patterns and droughts Climate change has led to unpredictable and undesirable weather patterns, such as droughts, which severely impact smallholders. Miscalculated planting times and failed crops lead to poverty and hunger amongst farmers, as well as destabilising supply chains and jeopardising global food security.
Wednesday 14th March 9.30-10.30 How can business help provide smallholders with the necessary finance and funding that they need? While agriculture remains a key economic activity in Africa employing about 55% of the population, a meagre 1% of bank lending goes to the agricultural sector. Only 4.7% of adults in rural areas in developing countries globally have a loan from a formal financial institution and only 5.9% a bank account, according to Findex data. Smallholders need access to finance to buy necessary equipment, invest in improved seeds and to ease cash flow in between harvest times.
11.00-12.00 The role of business in supporting farmers’ development into independent, profitable enterprises The future of agriculture does not look bright based on how business and smallholders are currently functioning. Younger generations are opting out of farming to seek more lucrative employment elsewhere. Smallholders need to develop into profitable businesses to ensure the security of next generation farmers.
14.00-14.50 How are networks, coalitions and NGOs evolving to tackle the challenges of certification and its discontents A continuation of the certification debate – no doubt there will be strong opinions on both sides of the table! The vast number of smallholders around the world mean that certification has its limits. Several companies are now moving towards their own schemes. Why is this and how are the certification bodies reacting?
14.50-15.30 One common language: Improving communication by aligning your reporting with the SDGs The SDGs provide a united platform from which businesses can work towards a broad range of sustainability issues, they put everyone on the same page and give us a common language. Having this shared index of targets makes communicating and reporting your smallholder work easier and more efficient.