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Sustainable Food Systems

With our investor and company partners, Ceres is driving large-scale changes in the way food is produced and sourced. We are working with the world’s largest institutional investors to help them better understand how these pressures present risks and opportunities for the food sector.

Sustainable AgricultureThe profitability of the world’s largest food and agribusiness companies depends on secure access to a reliable supply of commodities, but this secure supply base is increasingly in jeopardy.

Climate change and growing water stress are compromising agricultural productivity and increasing procurement costs. Illegal and unethical practices such as the razing of rainforest and the use of forced labor are intensifying as global food demand and population pressures mount. This creates new regulatory and reputational risks for companies.  Most notably, consumer demand for food that is sustainably sourced is on the rise, creating opportunities for innovation and disruption.

To maintain growth and profitability in this new, unparalleled context, large food companies must develop sourcing strategies that fundamentally decouple food production from environmental degradation and human exploitation. This means supporting production practices, industry efforts and government policies that preserve water and forests, accelerate climate-resilience, and protect the fundamental human rights of workers.

With our investor and company partners, Ceres is driving large-scale changes in the way food is produced and sourced. We are working with the world’s largest institutional investors to help them better understand how these pressures present risks and opportunities for the food sector. We are partnering with companies through efforts like the AgWater Challenge to develop bold new sustainability commitments for their agricultural sourcing. And we are working with companies like Mars, Unilever, and General Mills to advocate for sustainable climate and water policies through our policy network BICEP and our California Connect the Drops campaign. We are also working with a diverse group of nonprofit organizations and investor groups to improve transparency and help all stakeholders understand the gaps in sustainable palm oil implementation.

Learn more about our work to advance sustainable food systems. Click the links below.

Newly Released Guidance Aims to Improve Transparency in the Palm Oil Industry
Jan 23, 2017
With rainforest destruction and forced labor urgent concerns in palm oil cultivation, a diverse group of NGOs and investor organizations releases today shared guidance for corporate reporting on company commitments towards responsible palm oil sourcing and production.
Ceres and the PRI Join Forces to Tackle Tropical Deforestation
Nov 11, 2016
Through a new, joint investor group, the two organizations will support global institutional investors pressing food and timber companies to eliminate deforestation and other related concerns, including forced labor and land rights disputes from their supply chains.
Companies Rise to the AgWater Challenge
Oct 24, 2016
To inspire companies to address water risks in agriculture, Ceres and WWF launched the AgWater Challenge, a collaborative initiative to advance water stewardship and sustainable food-sourcing solutions in the food and beverage sector.
Investors, Major Brands Call for Stronger Standards from Palm Oil Certification Group
Jun 01, 2015
Institutional investors representing over $5 trillion in assets have joined together with some of the world’s largest and most recognizable consumer brands to call on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to strengthen its standards for certifying the sustainable production of palm oil
Feeding Ourselves Thirsty: How the Food Sector is Managing Global Water Risks
May 07, 2015
The global food sector, which uses 70% of the world’s freshwater, faces extraordinary risks from the twin challenges of water scarcity and water pollution. Rising competition, combined with aging water infrastructure, weak regulation and climate change are creating a water availability emergency that the World Economic Forum recently ranked as the world’s “top global risk.”
Water & Climate Risks Facing U.S. Corn Production
Jun 11, 2014
Ceres’ new report, Water and Climate Risks Facing U.S. Corn Production: How Companies and Investors Can Cultivate Sustainability analyzes the risks facing U.S. corn production. The report provides recommendations for how corn-buying companies and their investors can catalyze more sustainable agricultural practices, while helping farmers preserve and enhance yields, and protect precious water resources.
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