Land tenure is one of the eight key areas that are included in our Rural Development Framework and we are gathering data and insights on the status of farmers’ property rights.
Secure rights to land and natural resources are essential to rural development. They help to reduce uncertainties and facilitate long-term investment; in contrast, insecure land rights lead to poverty, land degradation and forest conversion. Our efforts to improve land rights were recognised when we were awarded the industry-leading score for this category in Oxfam’s 2015 Behind the Brand rankings.
Nestlé does not directly acquire or lease agricultural land, though we do acquire land for factory sites and a small number of demonstration farms. However, we do buy ingredients such as palm oil, soya and sugar, which are some of the common raw materials driving land acquisition and ‘land grabbing’.
A series of reports on the topic, including one from Oxfam into land tenure and supply chains, have explored food and beverage companies’ land rights policies relating to sugar, palm oil and soya. Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations produced Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGTs) of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.
In our Nestlé Commitment on Land & Land Rights in Agricultural Supply Chains, we adopt the FAO VGGTs, and commit both to zero tolerance for land grabs, and to holding suppliers accountable for community land rights. In short, we commit to source our raw materials from land that has not been illegally or unfairly taken. We advocate for others to do likewise, and work with a range of stakeholders to help the landless gain access to land, with a focus on tenure for women.
We have participated in a multi-stakeholder process hosted by the Rights and Resources Initiative and the Interlaken Group, which has developed operational guidelines for companies to operationalise the VGGTs.
The work of our partners, such as TFT and Proforest, includes assessments of our suppliers – and their suppliers – to determine the status of land ownership and any land conflicts, and to ensure that the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) are applied during the due diligence process that leads to any new land acquisition.