LONDON, ENGLAND – Sunny Verghese, co-founder and chief executive officer of Olam International Ltd., has joined the Business and Sustainable Development Commission as a new member, the company announced on Sept. 12.
He joins its roster of leaders from the private sector, academia and civil society, who are committed to accelerating the world’s transition to inclusive and sustainable growth.
The Business Commission’s mission is to encourage business leaders to focus on sustainable development. Its purpose is to show how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the private sector with a framework for making a difference in addressing major developmental challenges.
“The world cannot achieve sustainable development without the full engagement of the food and agriculture sectors, which are critical to achieving not just one, but the majority of the global goals,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business Commission. “Sunny’s leadership in agri-business will be essential to increasing the number of leaders who understand the incredible opportunity for both growth and sustainability in this sector.”
The SDGs, launched in 2015, are 17 targets for ending hunger and poverty, reducing inequality and tackling climate change by 2030. The goals most clearly related to food and agriculture include Goal 2, which calls for an end to hunger, while Goal 12 calls for sustainable consumption and production, and Goal 13, which calls for mitigating the impacts of climate change.
In efforts to end hunger, Goal 2 includes doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers. It also calls for ensuring sustainable food production systems and implementing resilient agricultural practices.
Targets within Goal 12 include halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, and achieving the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
Other goals — ensuring decent work, health and well-being, gender equality and education — however, are also related to the food and agriculture sectors.
“One of the meanings of the word Olam is ‘enduring’ or ‘everlasting,’” Verghese said. “I believe the only way we can build an enduring business is to put sustainability at the heart of our business. This is reflected in ‘Growing Responsibly,’ our core purpose, which guides us to pursue profitable growth in an ethical, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way. We have recently been recognized for this approach in Fortune “Change the World” list of 50 global companies.
“As the world grapples with major developmental challenges, including poverty, inequality, hunger, climate change impacts, depletion of natural capital and more, it is now critical for businesses, both large and small, to ensure that values and value creation are not traded off in the long run. I am excited to join the Business Commission, as it seeks to inspire and catalyze companies to embed sustainability at the core of their businesses and aims to foster collaborations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”
Verghese joins 31 other commissioners, including CEOs Paul Polman, Unilever; Mads Nipper, Grundfos; Ken Frazier, Merck; John Fallon, Pearson; Ho Ching, Temasek; and Helen Hai, Made in Africa; as well as leaders from major business organizations including Lise Kingo, UN Global Compact; Peter Bakker, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development; Sharon Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation, and many others.
The Business Commission’s flagship report, to be published in January 2017, will serve as the foundation for a number of activities to mobilize business leaders to align their companies with social and environmental impact.
To learn more about the Business Commission, visit http://businesscommission.org/.