Food for all

How can we feed the world – without destroying it?

What are the UN SDGs?

The UN wants to make the world a better place by 2030. It's doing this through 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), covering everything from clean energy and gender equality to zero hunger and human rights for all. The international community, including 193 governments, adopted the SDGs in 2015.

Achieving these goals will require an estimated investment of between five and seven trillion dollars each year until 2030. Around $1 trillion comes from the UN and member countries annually, while private investors must fund the remaining $6 trillion every year.

Is sustainable food production important to you? The products you choose and calories you consume are as critical as where and how you buy your food. But there's more to the topic than choosing food from local artisans and checking how many miles it has travelled.

Beyond your kitchen table, the world wastes around a third of the food it produces. Every day, there are 200,000 more mouths to feed. And by 2050, the planet could be home to almost 10 billion people.

As people get richer, they also consume more protein-rich food, like meat. Producing such food means growing more wheat, soy and corn to feed livestock – and using up basic resources and land. But this land is disappearing fast as populations and urban areas grow, and arable areas becomes wasteland through erosion and desertification.

Making more food could also harm the environment in other ways. Agriculture already accounts for roughly 70% of water extracted globally and nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Then there are moral dilemmas to consider. Is it right to turn forests into farmland, for example? And is genetically modified food acceptable even if it's more efficient?

Boosting yields and economies

But it's not all bad news. Improving agricultural yields in emerging and developing countries could make life better for people, boost economies – and help the United Nations (UN) achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As millennials are earning more, they're also including more meat alternatives in their diets, especially in the US and Western Europe.

So, how can we feed the world's population while protecting our agricultural and environmental resources? And what can you do, as an investor?

Investing in better food production

Investors can invest in lots of different ways, building a portfolio that considers companies and governments that manage these issues well.

At UBS, we look at agriculture businesses with sustainable farming practices. That's because they can grow more with less land, water, fertilizer and other costly resources. In these days of scarce resources and severe weather, investments in sustainable agriculture businesses should deliver long-term growth, and help preserve natural resources for generations.

We have identified six topics that encompass all the major sustainability challenges. The topics are based upon availability of reliable measurement data, and the feedback we receive from clients on the issues they care about.

How can I make a difference?

Investors today have a wide choice of investment approaches that drive sustainability. To build a sustainable investment portfolio investors can look for companies and governments that manage these issues well.

Let's get started

To discover how your investments can make food production more sustainable, contact your UBS client advisor or find one today.

Is your portfolio having the impact you want?