In 2021, up to 282 million people were still going hungry worldwide. This number is rising and threatens the development capacity of many in low and middle-income countries. The Food Security Standard (FSS) was developed as a private sector response to this situation. An important share of the hungry population lives in countries at the production level of global agricultural value chains. The FSS supports companies to ensure food security within their production system, fulfill their social responsibilities as well as comply with mandatory due diligence regulations.
What is the FSS?
Sustainable food systems are key to ensuring that future generations are food secure and have access to a healthy diet. Sustainability standards play a key role in translating sustainability requirements into practice. The FSS is designed to be integrated in any existing sustainability standard in the agricultural sector and is applicable to all agricultural products, farm sizes, and business types. FSS is rooted in the Human Right to adequate food.
It is structured according to the Right to Food Guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It contributes directly to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Directly, the FSS contributes to SDG No. 2 Zero Hunger and indirectly to numerous other SDGs such as:
SDG 1 No Poverty
SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 4 Quality Education
SDG 5 Gender Equality
SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation
SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production
The Food Security Standard …
- helps protect the Human Right to adequate food;
- closes an existing gap in sustainability standards;
- helps companies fulfil their responsibilities with respect to food security and comply with mandatory due diligence;
- is applicable in a wide variety of contexts and to all agricultural products;
- contains field-tested and quantifiable criteria;
- can be integrated into existing sustainability standards;
- has the support of respected certification systems. Among the first implementers were 4C Services (coffee) and ISCC (all kinds of biomass).
Why do we need the FSS?
Why do we need the FSS?
Globally, 828 million people are going hungry and over two billion are malnourished (WFP, 2021). The majority of the hungry people live in rural areas and are often smallholders or landless labourers involved in global agricultural supply chains. Especially temporary and casual workers are often affected. To ensure the food security along the value chain, the FSS plays an important role.
Sustainability standards are a common mean of verifying the compliance with sustainability requirements and passing information about the social and environmental attributes of a product along the supply chain. However, none of the established certification systems follows a holistic approach regarding a direct positive impact on the human right to food and other human rights connected to it.
The FSS aims to support companies involved agricultural production chains to promote the human right to food and to fulfill their social due diligence. It has been designed to closes the gap of existing sustainability certification schemes in holistically addressing food security and provides a set of practical and measurable criteria and audit tools that can be incorporated into existing schemes.
The FSS addresses the human right to food and addresses SDG 8- Decent work and economic growth, which is closely linked to the protection of other human rights. Thus, this makes FSS a suitable instrument for comprehensively ensuring due diligence regulations.
How the FSS works
The FSS is designed for implementation and verification within the framework of an existing sustainability standards system. It is not a standalone system but complementing an existing standard and is therefore easy to integrate.
Sustainability standard systems can integrate the FSS as part of their standards or offer the FSS as an add-on that can then be used by companies to maintain their mandatory human rights Due Diligence along their value chains. The verification of the FSS criteria takes place during the audit of the sustainability standard system, minimizing costs and human resources.
Sustainability standards, certification systems and certification bodies that want to offer the FSS or integrate it into their existing set of criteria have access to all necessary tools ranging from a comprehensive handbook and extensive training materials to a variety of checklists and interview guidelines. These tools are tailored to the specific circumstances of small-scale farms, mid-sized operations or plantations. They can also be used by companies to prepare for the implementation of FSS or to assess possible and actual risks in their supply chains.
How to get certified? Find out more in our latest explanatory video on the step by step guidance to FSS certification.
Food Security Standard
- Criteria and Indicators
- Food security assessment tools
- Checklist and handbook for auditors
Existing sustainability standards adopts FSS criteria
Right to food respected in agricultural production and ensured within the agricultural supply chain
Farmers, workers and local communities
- Farmers and workers are food secure and their Right to adequate Food is respected
- Food security in the area of influence of an agricultural operation does not deteriorate
- Food security gradually improves and reduces local inequalities (SDG 10)
- Well-being of smallholders and workers increases
Producers of agricultural goods
- Right to adequate food is protected by producers as much as it is their responsibility
- Compliance with social standards contributes to better working conditions and thus also to improved production conditions and on the right to decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).
- Higher resilience of the operation against hazards (natural, man-made)
- Prove that all reasonable precautions and due diligence were applied to avoid committing an offence of the Human Right to Food
- Mitigation of reputational risks
- Competitive advantage
- Compliance with upcoming due diligence legislation at national and EU level (contribution to SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth)
- Increasing concerns for socially viable production conditions are addressed
- Can opt for products that are also sustainable regarding food security and thus contribute to SDG 12 "Sustainable consumption".
“Many farm workers and small-scale farmers who grow food and agricultural goods for export to Europe are going hungry and their human rights are being violated. The FSS ensures the food security of farmers and workers while protecting nearby communities from the negative effects of export production.”Tina Beuchelt, Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn