10 October 2013
2nd FAO Private Sector Partnerships meeting
Distinguished Representatives of Private Sector,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you participating in this 2nd FAO-Private Sector Partnerships Meeting. I am pleased to see all the agri-food stakeholders present in this room.
The world faces many challenges that we can only overcome if we work together. This is especially true in the fields of food security and sustainable development.
The latest hunger figures show that there are nearly 36 million less hungry people in the world in 2013, but over 840 million continue undernourished – approximately one in every human beings.
The figures show that, with a final push, we can still meet the Millennium Development Goal hunger target, of halving the proportion of undernourished people between 1990 and 2015.
We will need an exceptional level of collaboration to do this and to then bring the hunger number down to zero, including between the public and private sectors.
We cannot afford not to strengthen our cooperation to meet the challenges that bring us together. There is too much at stake.
Cooperation with the private sector is not limited to financial contributions.
It includes joint advocacy, very important to gain the support of the entire society.
It includes capacity development and cooperation in normative, standard setting work.
It includes making use of our knowledge and expertise to increase the productivity of small-scale farmers, develop value chains and local markets and link poor producers to it. Let’s not forget that farmers, big or small, are all part of the private sector.
And, as I also told civil society organizations in the forum they had last Saturday, you are part of the political consensus that we need to build to achieve the future we want.
That’s why your presence in the Committee on World Food Security is so important. Last year you were part of the effort to reach a consensus on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.
We need the same participation from all sectors to reach a similar outcome with the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments. Having clear and agreed upon principles will benefit all of us. And we don’t have time to lose.
As I said last year, an important element for this debate will be the seven suggested principles that were prepared based on discussions held between FAO, IFAD, UNCTAD and the World Bank. They are:
First, respecting land and resource rights;
Second, ensuring food security;
Third, ensuring transparency, good governance and a proper enabling environment;
Fourth, consultation and participation;
Fifth, responsible agro-enterprise investing;
Sixth, social sustainability; and,
Seventh, environmental sustainability.
Let me call your attention to a couple of the conclusions of the Second Ministerial Meeting on Food Prices held on 7 October. First, the need to increase investment in agriculture is needed to raise productivity, enhance the resilience and increase sustainability of production systems and help prevent future food price spikes. And, second, there is general consensus on the importance and the urgency of agreeing on Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments.
Ladies and gentlemen,
When we met last year I invited you to an open dialogue with FAO. We are here to, once again exchange ideas and discuss the way forward. My team looks forward to hearing from you.
We also want to update you on the progress we have made in working with the business community and point to areas in which I would like to see your cooperation. Let me highlight two points.
First, I am pleased to inform you that FAO Members approved the Strategy for Partnerships with the Private Sector.
This strategy is the foundation for a more transparent, innovative and sustainable collaboration with the private sector. I want to thank you for having participated in its preparation.
The strategy provides us with an overall framework for cooperation, including at the country level, focusing around FAO’s five Strategic Objectives. They are:
Contribute to the eradication of hunger;
Increase sustainable production;
reduce rural poverty;
improve and make food systems more inclusive; and,
increase resilience of rural livelihoods.
These strategic objectives represent the areas in which FAO will focus its energies. They also represent the areas where I would like to see us work together in.
The second point that I want to make is that FAO has set-up a multi-donor trust fund to allow private sector entities to financially contribute to support FAO programs.
Through this tool, there will be several areas where the private sector can channel its resources. I welcome and encourage you to kick start this newly established fund.
Besides strengthening our collaborations with long-term partners, we are engaging in new partnerships. The agreements we are signing provide specific frameworks for collaboration and can detail concrete plans of action.
Two weeks ago, FAO signed agreements with the Grameen and Rabobank Foundations.
We will work with the Grameen Foundation to enhance smallholder access to knowledge for sustainable production through the use of mobile agriculture supported services.
And we will work with the Rabobank Foundation to share knowledge, innovation and financial resources in Africa in a broad strategy to make a difference in the lives of small-holder farmers and the rural poor.
We are also about to sign an agreement with Eataly, a food retailer that sources mainly from small-scale producers. This partnership will support projects in Africa and Latin America and activities related to the International Year of Family Farming, that will be celebrated in 2014.
We need support from the private sector to realize the potential of agricultural innovation in family farming.
Let me add that FAO’s main geographic area of focus is Africa. In July, we launched a partnership with the African Union and Instituto Lula at a high-level food security meeting in Addis Ababa. On that occasion, for the first time, African countries set a target to end hunger in the region: 2025.
We are committed to work under African leadership and in the framework of the CAADP – Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan to achieve that goal.
We look forward to working with you in Africa and other developing regions.
Let me end by saying that I hope this meeting will foster a constructive relationship between FAO and the private sector. And that it will open new windows of collaboration to promote food security and sustainable development.
Thank you for your attention.