Last week, world leaders officially adopted 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the U.N. General Assembly to build on progress made through the Millennium Development Goals. The SDGs, or Global Goals as they’re called, aim to focus and spur action toward making the world a better place by 2030, including ending extreme poverty and hunger.
To achieve such aspirational goals, everyone will need to work together. Governments can’t do it alone and we need the private sector to play an increasingly significant role. This is nothing new for Feed the Future — we’ve been pioneering a new model for development that draws on partners from all sectors, including business, to make an impact in a short amount of time against poverty and hunger.
We had the chance to talk with one of these Feed the Future business partners during a USAID event around the U.N. General Assembly. Lystra Antoine, the director of Sustainable Agriculture Development at DuPont Pioneer, shared how collaboration between governments and businesses (and others) can drive impact.
What’s an example of a partnership effort you’ve seen that’s demonstrated impact?
I was so honored to be a part of President Obama’s recent trip to Africa, where he met a smallholder farmer named Gifty. Gifty is planting DuPont Pioneer seed through participation in a program called the Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program, which is jointly funded by the U.S. government’s cornerstone global food security initiative, Feed the Future, and DuPont in conjunction with the Ethiopian government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture Transformation Agency.
Through this program, Gifty obtained access to higher-yielding maize seeds and training services on how to more efficiently produce crops. With these tools, she was able to produce enough for her family and sell excess at market, increasing her income and going from barely making ends meet to being able to pay for her husband’s medical bills, her son’s education and her daughter’s wedding. She — and many others in her community group that she has since introduced to the program — have transformed their lives by participating in this program.
This is just one example of how partnerships that involve host country governments, donors like the United States, private sector, local civil society, and smallholder farmers can make a tremendous difference. In Ethiopia alone this program aims to reach 100,000 Ethiopian farmers and is expected to generate more than $25 million in additional income per year, and to increase the availability of food and basic nutrition for nearly half-a-million children by 2018.
What innovations has DuPont developed that others organizations can use to advance global food security?
We know that the United States and many other donor and development partners are looking into ways to use technology as a tool to improve the lives and livelihoods of others, and access to data is central to that.
At DuPont, we are very proud of our partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit to develop the Global Food Security Index, which is an open source of rich information that anyone can use to better analyze the complexity of food security — including food availability, affordability, nutritional quality, safety and the impact of price volatility in more than 100 countries. That data can in turn be used to assess risk factors, influence policy and drive action to address food and nutrition security at the country level.
How do you think efforts like Feed the Future and DuPont’s Sustainable Agriculture activities can best promote achievement of the SDGs?
It is important to recognize that tremendous progress has been made, in large part because we all share a common goal. Thanks to U.S. leadership through President Obama and partners involved in Feed the Future, the issue of food security remains high on the global agenda. And it has again been formalizedin goal 2 of the SDGs, which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and prioritize sustainable agriculture.
At DuPont, through our commitment to innovation, we are contributing to the achievement of several of the SDGs, from food security and health, to sustainable water management, access to clean energy and sustainable industrialization. Without access to healthy, nutritious foods, we cannot expect communities to be able to be resilient in times of crisis, nor able to fully prosper and participate in the global economy.
Working collaboratively, we will support access in ways that consider the need to feed a growing population while remaining sensitive to a planet facing climate change and limited natural resources.
Involving the private sector helps to further market-based solutions, leverage innovation and insight, and hasten results on the ground. No one company, country or actor can do it alone; but together, we can achieve a well-fed, healthy and sustainable planet for this and future generations.