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SDG Business Forum – Dave MacLennan Remarks

August 01, 2018

Opening – partnership in action

Good morning…  A little over a year ago, I walked into a busy classroom at the San Pedro Apostol school, which is located close to one of our chicken plants in Nicaragua. I was in Latin America visiting several of our businesses, and stopped at the school to see the kitchen, dining room and cellar that our employees had helped build with their own hands and time.

Many of our employees’ children attend the school, just as they did years ago. Yet, it’s a different place than it was back then. Today, lunch includes produce picked from the school garden. Nutrition is part of the curriculum. And, classrooms are filled with eager volunteers, many of them our employees.

It’s a different place because of PARTNERSHIP. A partnership between CARE–a global humanitarian organization, a community, and our company. The positive impact on the children who attend the school, and on our employee engagement, far surpasses anything we could do on our own.

SDGs are critical to our future

At Cargill, our purpose is to be the leader in nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. It’s something we believe in deeply.

We are keenly aware that our diverse business portfolio and position in global agricultural and food supply chains, comes with great responsibility. A responsibility to our customers, employees, farmers, communities and the planet. And, a responsibility to help propel the Sustainable Development Goals forward. 

Yet, focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals isn’t just about doing the right thing. The very issues we’re here to talk about today, are also critically important to our business. Beyond being a social imperative, they are also an economic imperative.

Global agriculture and global development are intrinsically connected. Our shared success rests on our ability…

  • To move food from where its grown to where it’s needed… in order to end hunger and feed a growing world.
  • To connect farmers and producers of all sizes with markets… in order to promote sustainable economic growth and work for all.
  • And, to achieve gender equity… by empowering all women and girls. They are cornerstones of our families, communities and the agriculture industry. And often, they are unsung heroes.

Cargill wants to make significant contributions in each of these areas – but we can’t do it alone.

Partnerships create connections

Partnerships offer a pathway to success in both programs and policies. And they can take many forms.

Consider trade – the world’s great connector. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide depend on trade to meet their basic food needs. The world is literally fed by trade. At its core, a trade agreement is a partnership between nations…

  • A partnership that can fuel economic growth;
  • Create new jobs;
  • Raise incomes;
  • Drive improved environmental and social standards;
  • And help people prosper.

When conducted responsibly, within a rules-based system, trade spurs opportunity. In an age where global trade is under attack, we must not overlook its importance to sustainable development.

Partnership with care

We’ve seen the tremendous impact that open markets can have in developing countries. And, the impact that we can have by joining arms with others who share our vision and purpose.

Take for example our partnership with CARE. It started more than 50 years ago and it melds Cargill’s expertise in food and agriculture with CARE’s decades of success in community-led rural development.

Partnering with CARE enables us to address critical social and sustainability issues in areas where we operate – the same communities where our employees live and where their children attend school – like that school in Nicaragua. It directly connects our social responsibility and business interests. I believe this has been critical to its success.

In the past 10 years alone, Cargill and CARE have reached 2.2 million people, building resilient communities in 10 countries. Among those who have benefited are women who have developed microenterprises or joined village savings and loan programs, resulting in increased financial security.

Investing in women and girls

Women are at the heart of many farming communities and they are a vital link between farms and families. When they have an opportunity to earn an income, the whole community thrives, productivity on the farm increases, household incomes rise and children are better educated.

That’s why Cargill has been investing in women and girls, through partnerships and within our own supply chains.
We were among the first companies to join the Paradigm for Parity℠ coalition, an organization committed to achieving gender parity across all levels of corporate leadership by 2030.

While the need for progress is universal, it is most urgent in developing countries, many of which are highly dependent on agriculture.

Today, I’m pleased to announce a new partnership – between Cargill and ONE – a tremendous organization that is taking the fight for gender equality head-on. Together, we will raise awareness and advocate for policies that support education for women and girls, inclusive financing, women’s rights to own property and land, and access to the market.

Each of these are essential steppingstones in the fight against poverty. 
Our $2 million dollar, two-year commitment, will support ONE’s “Poverty is Sexist” campaign – a campaign aimed at ensuring that women and girls living in extreme poverty are not left out of the conversation on gender inequality.

We’ll share their inspiring stories, as they fight for change within their communities. By lifting up their voices, we’ll strive to break down the barriers that disproportionately hold them back. And in doing so, we’ll propel the Sustainable Development Goals forward.


SDG 17 calls on us to encourage and promote effective public, private and civil society partnerships. It creates a true connection between each of the Sustainable Development Goals – and each of our organizations.

There’s power in partnership. Now, it’s up to each of us to embrace it and work together – across sectors, geographies and industries – to drive the Sustainable Development Goals forward.   

Thank you.