HVA International (‘HVA’ or ‘we’) recognizes that the global population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and more food will be needed to meet global demands. Better cultivation strategies that close yield gaps, along with smarter spatial planning, can reduce the land footprint of agriculture while significantly increasing global calories produced. Agriculture needs to become a driver of economic growth, increase food security, address adverse environmental impacts, promote human rights and fair labor standards, and provide both safe and healthy products to end consumers.
The United Nations established the Sustainable Development Goals, a universal set of 17 objectives designed to shape corporate agendas and political policies to target a broad range of social, environmental and economic development issues. HVA serves on the Board of Directors of the Dutch SDG House which was founded by the Royal Tropical Institute in The Netherlands, which HVA co-founded in 1910. HVA’s ‘Positive Agriculture’ methodology is in part inspired by the SDGs.
As a longstanding and globally recognized agricultural company and asset manager, HVA believes it is incumbent on us to invest in solutions that can help address sustainability challenges and move the world closer toward reaching these goals. We also believe that proactive management of key ‘Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance’ (‘ESG’) issues across our organization will help protect and enhance our operations, yielding better and more sustainable outcomes for all stakeholders.
Stewardship of Positive Agriculture
Putting these principles into practice is something HVA strives to do on a project level. We incorporate key Positive Agriculture considerations throughout our operations as we believe the management of material Positive Agriculture and ESG risks is closely aligned with our fiduciary duty. To ensure accountability and focus on these issues, we ensure that our portfolio companies report their progress on positive agriculture annually, with support from HVA’s dedicated resources. Regular disclosure is a useful management tool that we implement to help drive positive sustainability outcomes. This helps prevent downside risk and can also be a source of potential value creation.Within all our projects, we seek to maximize Positive Agriculture benefits that are aligned with our stakeholder interests and to minimize adverse ESG-related impacts. We have built and continue to seek to improve strong governance structures that we believe provide appropriate levels of oversight in the areas of audit, risk management and potential conflicts of interest. We also maintain policies that prevent corrupt practices such as improper payments to public or elected officials.
Key Positive Agriculture Focus Areas
We implement industry-leading standards and frameworks to benchmark our impact – in sugarcane production for example we use the globally leading BONSUCRO framework - and seek out expert third-party advice to identify material Positive Agriculture focus areas. In an effort to help our portfolio companies better understand their ESG performance, we also support them to quantify specific environmental metrics, such as greenhouse gas (‘GHG’) emissions, water use, energy consumption and waste, while helping them understand social performance in areas such as diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe that climate change is an emerging area of risk and opportunity, in particular given our focus on the agricultural sector.
Transparency and Reporting
We also seek to provide information to our key stakeholders on matters that are of greatest concern to them. As part of our own ongoing monitoring and reporting process, we are able to provide transparency on the ESG-related activities of our portfolio companies. Based on the ESG performance of our portfolio companies, we prepare an annual sustainability report. This report provides an overview of our Positive Agriculture policy and the applicable ESG frameworks per project, together with a summary of key ESG-related activities. This report is submitted to key stakeholders and we are convinced that this reporting increases accountability in regard to Positive Agriculture and upholds transparency to stakeholders. We also discuss Positive Agriculture and ESG as an internal agenda item during our regular executive meetings, whenever it is deemed necessary.
Roles and Responsibilities
To underscore and improve the accountability structure with respect to Positive Agriculture and ESG, we have established a Positive Agriculture Committee comprised of the CEO and various functional executives at HVA. This step provides additional oversight with respect to Positive Agriculture initiatives helps ensure that progress is made. Where additional subject matter expertise is needed, HVA uses external resources when necessary, for example for the application of specific industry-leading frameworks. We also provide ongoing training for our team in regard to Positive Agriculture.
Scope and Limitations
This Positive Agriculutre Policy is intended to reflect our general framework for managing Positive Agriculture issues. HVA’s ability to influence and exercise control over the companies it operates will vary depending on the agreed-upon structure and terms. In cases where HVA determines it has limited ability to conduct diligence or to influence or control the consideration of Positive Agriculutre issues, whether at the project, investment or at the holding-level, HVA will only apply those elements of this Positive Agriculture Policy that it determines to be practicable. Examples of such cases are with project management, where HVA is engaged for a specific part of a larger project, has limited governance rights or where other circumstances affect HVA’s ability to assess, set or monitor Positive Agriculture-related performance goals.For the purposes of this policy, material Positive Agriculture issues are defined as those issues that HVA in its sole discretion determines have - or have the potential to have - a substantial impact on an organization’s ability to create, preserve, or erode economic value, as well as environmental and social value for itself and its stakeholders.This policy is reviewed and updated as required, at least once per year.
Decent work and economic growth
While our know-how in building up ventures in emerging and frontier markets is important, we are always heavily dependent on the support and cooperation of local communities and workers. Before the Green Revolution, HVA at times had more than 200.000 people working on the various farm projects. Ensuring decent work, livable incomes, economic growth and safe working conditions is a core value that we have abided from the outset.-
The global population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and more food will be needed to meet global demands. Better cultivation strategies that close yield gaps, along with smarter spatial planning, can reduce the land footprint of agriculture while increasing global calories produced significantly. HVA is responsible for the production of essential calories in developing regions through its core activities, thereby contributing to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, while promoting sustainable agriculture.-
HVA places great emphasis on sustainable and responsible production. Given the sector's significant influence on both its employees and consumers, it is of paramount importance to acknowledge our responsibility in this regard. An example of this commitment is HVA's Ethiopian sugar factories, where HVA has constructed housing, schools, hospitals, and recreational facilities. Initially, HVA had 350 expatriates working in Ethiopia; however, thanks to extensive training programs, HVA successfully transitioned these roles to local workers. As a result, only a small number of expatriates retained.