Today, people’s lives, communities and civilisations have all been defined by constant danger. Hunger is the menace, a plague that causes weakness, despair and death in the worst-case scenarios. One of the primary common threads has been hunger throughout history, which has resulted in large-scale migration, wars, conflicts and great sacrifices (FAO 2019). Since the early colonial era, keeping populations fed has been a key administrative concern (Nally 2011). It helped communities strengthen their bonds of friendship and solidarity. For this important issue, the first UN conference on food and agriculture was called by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. The conference specifically stated that countries must develop a food and nutrition policy to set their own intermediate goals gradually. Afterwards, the escalating Cold War and Malthusian worries that food shortages would fuel communism became the reason for the 1960s to be dubbed as the “fighting hunger decade” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its Freedom from Hunger Campaign (Byerlee and Fanzo 2019). Two significant advances on the way to SDG-2 occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. First, the conversation switched from food supply to food availability. The FAO modified its definition of food security in 1982 to guarantee that all people have physical and economic access to the food they need at all times (Sen 1982; Shaw 2007). After these new developments, global goals have become important for a new millennium. The WHO member nations approved six global targets for promoting maternal, baby and early child nutrition in 2012 and committed to tracking progress towards those goals (WHO 2014). Zero Hunger, developed by economist and agronomist José Graziano da Silva, has been considered as one of the most significant achievements in the fight against hunger and poverty on a global scale (FAO 2019).

Many people worldwide think that hunger can be eradicated in the coming decades, and they are working together to achieve this objective (UN 2021). In many countries, undernutrition has decreased nearly half due to the increasing agricultural productivity and rapid growth of the economy. Yet, some people have encountered starvation and malnutrition (Paramashanti 2020). World leaders affirmed the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food at the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which is compatible with the right to enough food and the basic right of everyone to be invulnerable to hunger. “End hunger, achieve food security and enhanced nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” are the objectives of SDG-2. Because it is inextricably tied to society, the economy and the environment, SDG-2 is critical to the entire SDG agenda’s success. Even though undeveloped countries rely more heavily on agricultural operations, food production and consumption are important to every economy and permeate all cultures (Gil et al. 2019).

More coordinated decision-making mechanisms at the national and local levels are necessary to collaborate and effectively address trade-offs between climate change, water, agriculture, land and energy. To avoid large-scale future shortages and to ensure food security and excellent nutrition for everybody, local food systems must be strengthened (UN 2021). The United Nations Committee on World Food Security defines food security as all people having social, physical and financial access to adequate, clean and nutritional food that meets their dietary requirements at all times to live a healthy life (UNDESA 2021). The goal of SDG-2, which is to ensure global food security and agricultural sustainability, necessitates prompt and coordinated action from both developing and developed countries. This, in turn, is contingent on clear, broadly applicable objectives and indicators, which are now in short supply. The SDGs’ new and sophisticated character complicates its implementation on the ground, especially in light of interlinkages across SDG targets and scales (Gil et al. 2019).

The Zero Hunger objective, in particular, highlights a long-overdue realisation that industrial agriculture threatens fundamental ecological processes on which food supply depends by including sustainable agriculture targets into the larger endeavour to end hunger (Blesh et al. 2019). As shown in Fig. 4.1, there are eight targets within the context of SDG-2.

Fig. 4.1
figure 1

SDG-2 targets. (Goal 2 2021, p. 2)

While the increasing population growth was 7.339 billion in 2015, this number increased to 7.753 billion in 2020. This rise carries dozens of new issues, such as decreasing per capita income and increasing consumption of natural resources (“Population, total | Data” 2021). According to UN estimates, there are over 690 million hungry people globally, accounting for 8.9% of the global population, an increase of ten million in a year and over 60 million in 5 years (Goal 2 2021). When it comes to calculating needed calorie-based consumption, the rise in food demand has overtaken population growth. To consume food, one must also produce it, which necessitates agricultural and animal resources (Fukase and Martin 2020). The world’s arable land rose from 1523 million hectares to 1562 million hectares between 1992 and 2012. As a result, arable land per capita has decreased, as has the effect of population expansion and rising food consumption. In other words, the food will be produced with more difficulty, and this will also cause the reduction of forests (Fukase and Martin 2020). Agriculture for food production and the food consumed have harmed the environment, for example, GHG emissions and land conversion. These challenges can help solve many problems through agricultural research, resource management and infrastructure improvement, but they are insufficient. Focusing on the agriculture sector and doing complementary research outside of it can help solve both the environmental and hunger problems. This is a global issue as well as one that affects regional economies. Reduced hunger in Africa, for example, might be shown as a goal. Accepting some conditions is important to go confidently towards this objective. These situations can be handled as follows: climate change has hindered and may continue to prevent hunger reduction, investment in agriculture in poor countries and the rest of the world can increase productivity for important crops and livestock, and investments in agricultural R&D and other incremental investments, not just in agriculture, are needed to end hunger (Mason-D’Croz et al. 2019). In addition, to deal with the global issues, there is the concept of food safety, which is a national and regional security concept (Tansey 2013). Transforming the global food system into an inclusive private sector-based system that is environmentally sustainable and more beneficial in terms of climate is an important move towards achieving the goals. While these moves are being implemented, changes or situations may complement each other. As a result, the goal is to establish priorities and optimise the success of these definitions (Rickards and Shortis 2019). Research areas are also effective in providing these optimisations.

WEF nexus explains the relationship of the three main components of water, energy and food to improve intersectoral coordination while supporting sustainable development. It is also a good approach to managing natural resources (Hamidov and Helming 2020). Although this triangle previously varied, water, energy and food have been considered the most basic triad due to unbalanced access (Sharifi Moghadam et al. 2019). Food production, which requires water and energy, is an example of the water-energy-food relationship (Nie et al. 2019). Considering this concept, new food production techniques are being developed to reduce resource use and increase product yield.

Increasing food demands have resulted in an over-expansion of agricultural lands required to meet food production goals. Agricultural production accounts for about 80% of global deforestation, and livestock and animal feed production is a major factor in agricultural deforestation (Agribusiness & Deforestation 2021). People settlement and agriculture have changed the majority of the natural ecosystems (Ellis and Ramankutty 2008). Studies should be carried out to prevent these adverse effects for the most effective use of agricultural lands. Food production is sensitive to climate change. With climate change, temperatures have increased, ecosystem boundaries have changed, and invasive species have emerged. As a result, both livestock productivity and the nutritional quality of grains and crop yield decrease (Climate-Smart Agriculture 2021). Food production accounts for between 1/5 and 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions from humans (Agriculture and Food Production Contribute Up to 29 Percent of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions According to Comprehensive Research Papers 2012). CSA focuses on the effects of climate change and food security on parts of the food supply such as agriculture, livestock and fisheries. Food supply aims to increase productivity, increase resilience to harsh conditions and minimise emissions per calorie obtained (Climate-Smart Agriculture 2021).

Dietary patterns that support all aspects of an individual’s health and well-being while being environmentally friendly are known as sustainable healthy diets. The goal of sustainable healthy diets is to ensure optimal growth and development of all people; to support functionality and physical, mental and social well-being at all stages of life; to prevent all forms of malnutrition; to reduce the risk of diet-related diseases; and to maintain biodiversity and planetary health while providing nutrients (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization 2019).

The aim to reach SDG-2, Zero Hunger by 2030, will not be accomplished (Grebmer and Bernstein 2020). Still, hopeful future predictions could be made regarding the positive processes that have been made already. Even in the most dangerously vulnerable countries to hunger, the conditions have gotten significantly better over the years. Our problematic global food arrangement has a share in the current position, which is the limits of the planet’s ecology and social connections in the sense of being no longer suitable for the population to be safe and develop equally (Grebmer and Bernstein 2020). Decreasing hunger is a crucial means to extend the growth further globally, but ending hunger holds an underlying position of bringing everyone the right to fair living conditions, including nutritional needs they deserve, as stated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Cohen 2019). Producing food creates an imminent compromise in protecting nature. However, diminishing hunger can be considered the core element of sustainable development. By definition, sustainable development is creating growth that will satisfy the demands of the present generations while preserving its potential to satisfy the needs of the later generations. Therefore supplying enough food is a primary demand towards sustainable development. Attentively planned distribution of cropland in prospective would affect compromises to function better between producing the food and protecting the biological diversity (Zhang et al. 2021). A comprehensive solution for agriculture and food arrangement internationally is demanded to feed the current 690 million food-deprived people with the predicted addition to the global population of two billion people by 2050. The dangers of hunger could be relieved by more productive agriculture systems and more sustainable management of food supplies (Goal 2 2021). Closing the yield gap would both create a great saving of soil and decrease the species that are going extinct (Zhang et al. 2021). Being careless about food security comes at a cost; hunger creates great expenses in respect of patients’ well-being, diminishes the capacity of human force and decreases sustainable growth (Cohen 2019). An important outcome that could be seen through the projects aiming to eradicate hunger that did not get funded properly and fulfil its purpose throughout the last 20 years is that the electorate’s support is crucial for powerful policies (Cohen 2019). It is crucial to create proper policies for the smaller-scale farmers and women in underprivileged regions of the world, which are experiencing the worst of global hunger, for them to present themselves politically and become actors in the actions that they get affected by (Cohen 2019). FAO predicts the need for food internationally will grow by 70% until 2050. This higher need for food will be caused by Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, which are growing areas in terms of the predicted increase in the residents’ incomes (Linehan et al. 2012).

According to former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, business is a critical partner in accomplishing sustainable development goals. People want organisations to assess their impact, set ambitious targets and communicate honestly about the results through companies’ key activities. The SDGs attempt to reroute global public and private investment flows towards the challenges they represent. As a result, they define expanding markets for businesses that provide creative solutions and dramatic change (SDG Compass 2021).

The most crucial two aspects of the “Zero Hunger” goal is agricultural production and food supply, and they mostly depend on the activities of the private sector. That means, to achieve SDG-2, major involvement in the private sector is needed. There are many different types and sizes of businesses in the agriculture and food sector. Some businesses use the most conventional methods, while others prefer the most modern methods. The sizes of these businesses may range from smallholder farmers to global multi-billion-dollar companies. Considering these factors, investors, customers and end consumers have a wide range of needs and expectations. If nations, continents, sectors and professions join forces and act on evidence, the world can attain Zero Hunger. Agricultural, fishing and forestry employ 80% of the world’s poor. As a result, achieving “Zero Hunger” requires a rural economic revolution. Governments must provide possibilities for more private sector investment in agriculture, as well as strengthen social protection programs for the poor and connect food farmers with metropolitan areas (A #ZeroHunger world by 2030 is possible 2021). Since 2015, the worldwide food and beverage industry has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7%, reaching almost $5943.6 billion in 2019. From 2019 to 2023, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.1%, reaching $7525.7 billion. In 2025, the market is expected to reach $8638.2 billion, and in 2030, $11,979.9 billion (Food and Beverages Global Market Opportunities and Strategies to 2030: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery 2020). There are many opportunities in the food market for businesses that attach importance to the targets of SDG-2, agile to adapt and use the emerging technologies, social responsibility values and sustainability, thanks to its massive size.

4.1 Companies and Use Cases

Table 4.1 presents the business models of 40 companies and use cases that employ emerging technologies and create value in SDG-2. We should highlight that one use case can be related to more than one SDG and it can make use of multiple emerging technologies. In the left column, we present the company name, the origin country, related SDGs and emerging technologies that are included. The companies and use cases are listed alphabetically.Footnote 1

Table 4.1 Companies and use cases in SDG-2