This is a multi-series blog on how hemp can be incorporated into the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In September of 2015, the United Nations developed ambitious global goals that addressed poverty, climate change, clean water and sanitation, and many issues that need global attention. These goals are broken into seventeen categories and given the name Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. The SDGs is an agenda where countries and global leaders pledge to become progressive with these purposeful efforts and to be achieved by the year 2030; seven short years away.

It is expected for countries that have adopted these goals to be held responsible and address these goals with vigor and seriousness. In this series, we will focus on how hemp can aid these goals and make them attainable.

Socio-Economic Opportunities in Hemp to Help Fight Poverty

The first SDG goal is to eradicate poverty. Poverty affects millions, no matter what the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) may be. There are various factors that contribute to poverty: economic recessions, war, mental health, rise in the cost of goods and housing, etc. Millions of US citizens are living paycheck-to-paycheck with minimal savings. In 2022, 140 million people in America are living in poverty, a stark reality for one of the richest countries in the world. Though there are resources to those that need aid in covering the basics of living i.e., affordable housing, access to healthy foods, health insurance, cash assistance, etc, it is not merely enough in present day cost-of-living.

How can the hemp industry build economic stability and reduce the numbers of poverty-stricken Americans? We can start with affordable housing and economic opportunities with additive manufacturing. Companies like Black Buffalo 3D are working on large 3d printing structures, including homes.Hemp is one material Black Buffalo 3D is experimenting with in their research and development. Using new technology like 3d printing can speed the time of constructing homes, while saving costs. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 582,462 people experienced homelessness in January 2022 alone. Speeding the process of creating safe and affordable homes has never been so urgent and 3d printed hemp homes can be one solution.

HempLime homes, including tiny homes, are scattered across the nation to house individuals and families. HempLime houses, depending on square-footage, aren’t quite affordable as yet, but it brings the advantages of a healthier home. HempLime, made from hemp hurd, lime, and water is a building material alternative with no use of chemical additives. It is naturally mold, pest, and fire-resistant and can regulate humidity and heat, making it a wonderful insulator. It’s energy-efficient, lowering energy costs for families. Reducing energy costs for families will cumulatively put more money in their pockets which can be used to cover other basic needs.

With additional housing construction, comes job opportunities. Contractors, construction workers, floor and window installers, electricians, and more will be able to find work in new housing development. It doesn’t have to stop at residential housing, but new commercial structures can erect and extend to retail brick and mortars. Creating new development will create new jobs, which will aid the reduction of poverty.

State and federal government have awarded grants for small businesses, beginning and BIPOC farmers; serving a marginalized demographic and giving them an opportunity in agriculture and entrepreneurship. Having equal economic opportunity in agribusiness is a financial relief and confidence booster for first generation Americans, young individuals, tribes, LatinX, and the brown community. Through grant funding, mentorship, accessible courses, and economic programs, job opportunities are expanding and is becoming more inclusive. The National Hemp Association believes in accessible education and job opportunities by creating micro educational hemp series that is complimentary to non-profit’s members that implement diversity, equity, and inclusion. NHA also has a job board for those who are seeking opportunities in the field and encourage businesses to adopt DEI plans for their business through the Social Equity Conscious Business Badge program.

Hemp and Food Security

The second SDG goal is Zero Hunger by 2030. The number of the malnutrition and the hungry have skyrocketed due to Covid-19. Loss of income, school closings, and closures of food aid facilities, contributed to the high percentage of food insecure people. In 2020, an estimated 54 million Americans were experiencing food insecurity. The combination of low wages and high inflation is causing a frightful ripple throughout the nation. There are state and federal resources to relieve some financial stress for families that are eligible to receive assistance, but not sustainable with the rise of food and produce costs.

How can hemp help with food security issues? Hemp can be grown for floral, seed, grain, and fiber within 120 days. With a short growing season, farmers can harvest grain and process it in various ways. Hemp seeds can be roasted, hulled, pressed for oil, milled for flour, and used to create a non-dairy beverage. Its leaves can be eaten raw, juice, or sprouted. With its high nutritional value in protein and fiber and the balance of omega-3’s and 6’s, hemp can contribute to one’s health and reduce hunger across the nation. As a domestic crop that can be grown in various zones, hemp grain can be accessible with minimal risk of supply chain issues thus making this crop food secure for Americans.

Hemp grain has been used in research and development in fish, poultry, and bovine such as cows. Chiques Creek has their hemp-fed hen eggs on market in selected stores in Pennsylvania with better and higher percentages in lutein and omega-3’s and are packed with protein. The SUSHI Project is experimenting with hemp feed to support the aquaculture industry and to add hemp as a safe additive to fish feed. Better nutrition in animal products will lead to better nutrition for humans.

In closing, hemp can be implemented into the UN’s 17 SDG’s and shed light on this crop’s multi benefits as a building material and as a superior food, helping to eradicate poverty and end hunger in America.

Anna Chanthavongseng – Assistant Executive Director