With the pressure to raise our agricultural production by an estimated 60 % by 2050 to cater for a larger population and the effects of climate change that put this objective at risk, how do we feed the world in a more sustainable way?
International Standards are part of the solution to help face those challenges. While ISO standards have already played an important role in the food chain, it is time to move forward with specific standards on sustainability for the agri-food sector. ISO is currently developing two documents on the subject.
Implementing social responsibility in the agri-food sector
ISO has very recently started work on a future guide (ISO/NP 26030) on sustainable development and social responsibility in the agri-food sector, which will provide guidance on how to implement ISO 26000 on social responsibility in the field of agri-foods. The main objective of the document is to establish a definition and the common issues of social responsibility as applied to the agri-food industry and to draw up a list of recommendations to help companies interested in the issue.
Until now, there has been very little standardization work on social responsibility for the food sector and, although the concepts of sustainable development and social responsibility have gained currency, there remains a general lack of knowledge about what they really mean, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.
In an attempt to change the situation, the future technical document will:
- Provide guidance on how businesses and organizations in the agri-food sector can operate in a socially responsible way
- Position agri-foods as an innovative sector that pays attention to societal concerns
- Help all stakeholders make progress on corporate social responsibility in a progressive, pedagogic and voluntary way
- Establish a shared definition and common stakes in the food sector, which will harmonize the different approaches at the international level, improving performance and comprehensiveness in the food trade
A new series of ISO standards on cocoa is also under development and aims to support cocoa farmers to produce sustainably. The future ISO 34101, Sustainable and traceable cocoa beans, will specify requirements for a management system for cocoa farming, which features a dynamic farm development plan using a stepwise approach to sustainable cocoa bean production.
The series is designed to be used by all those involved in the cocoa supply chain, from farmers to buyers, to all the other organizations operating in the sector. It aims to disseminate good agricultural practices, protect the environment and improve the social conditions and livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
These tools are also destined to help organizations, companies and governments embed food and agriculture solutions in their own climate action plans, make wiser use of natural resources and implement best practice throughout the food sector.