Small Islands Developing States. The Caribbean case
Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) are small islands and low-lying coastal countries with varied geography, climate, culture and stages of economic development. However, these countries share common characteristics which highlight their vulnerability to emerging challenges, including the impacts of climate change, which undermine efforts to achieve sustainable development.
Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States
The Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States will be held in Apia, Samoa, in 2014. It will seek to assess progress and identify the remaining gaps and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS, as well as to identify the priorities within a post-2015 development agenda. The ultimate goal is a “a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented political document” that helps in renewing political commitment. The national preparations that have taken place until now will convey in three regional preparatory meetings. The first of these meetings will be for the Caribbean SIDS, to be held in Jamaica on 2-4 July.
FAO is also supporting in the preparatory process towards the International Conference in 2014. A dedicated website has been recently launched, with the aim of sharing the work of FAO in SIDS. As an initial activity, a global e-consultation “Emerging challenges, food security and resilient livelihoods in SIDS” was launched with the objective of encouraging dialogue and seeking inputs that will contribute to the preparatory process aimed at addressing the main challenges and opportunities on SIDS. The consultation invited participation from a wide group of stakeholders from various sectors.
The results of the e-consultation focused on the identification of emerging challenges for SIDS. Participants made referred to weather related climate events, but also other challenges were mentioned, including lack of infrastructure at local and regional levels necessary to collect and disseminate data, as well as dietary changes, increasingly substituting local products for imported ones. Also, numerous participants answered a question on the possible priorities to be considered in the post-2015 agenda relevant for SIDS, considering social issues such as poverty, access to natural resources (which is key for their livelihoods), as well as employment and education need to be considered among the priorities in a post-2015 context.
The challenge of food security at the Caribbean SIDS
In a context of global economic crisis, Caribbean SIDS must progress in achieving inclusive and sustainable development of agriculture. The Regional Preparatory Meeting in the Caribbean, as well as the Third International Conference on SIDS next year will provide opportunities for these countries in identify challenges and opportunities in their unique environmental and economic contexts, and towards a sustainable path within a post-2015 development agenda.
This month, 38 countries have met internationally-established targets for 2015 on hunger and food security. In the Caribbean SIDS, the Dominican Republic achieved MDG 1 (halve the proportion of hungry people) while Cuba, Guyana and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines achieved both, MDG 1 and the WFS (reduce by half the absolute number of undernourished people between 1990-92 and 2010-2012) goals.
In a scenario of global economic crisis, the issues related to food and nutrition security in the Caribbean are largely related to access and utilization of food. Among the main concerns is the high levels of food importation as all countries in the sub-region (except for Belize and Guyana) are net importers of food with rates of up to 80%. Another source of concern in this sub-region lies in dietary practices, as obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes among others (known as NDC diseases) are largely caused by the replacement of fruits and vegetables by imported processed and semi-processed foods, a constrain to access food that is most evident in poor and vulnerable households.
Despite all these challenges, according to the State of Food and Agriculture 2012, the rate of progress in the reduction of undernourishment has been higher in Latin America and the Caribbean than in other regions. The region showed a decrease in the population that suffered hunger from 14.6 % (65 million people) in 1990-1992 to 8.3% (49 million people) in 2010-2012. In fact, this was the first region to commit to the total eradication of hunger through the Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger 2025 initiative.
A concrete example of this is Cuba, who set the right to food as a government priority and implements effective policies to support it. In fact, food security in the island is today similar to that of developed countries, with malnutrition affecting less than 5% of the population.
The increased commitment to food security is more visible in policies, programmes and laws at country level, as shown by the recent incorporation of Antigua and Barbuda into the Zero Hunger Challenge, inspired in the Brazilian model that helped lift 24 million people out of extreme poverty in five years and to reduce undernourishment in Brazil by 25%.
In Haiti (the only LDC country in the region) FAO’s continuous support (some US$10 million in 2012 only) has ranged from immediate relief activities to long-term interventions, both at field and policy levels. Among some examples there is assistance to resume crop and livestock production by providing inputs, as well as training on improved production techniques and disaster preparedness; supporting farmers’ associations and urban agriculture projects, assisting in the preparation of the Agricultural Development Policy (2010-2025), a National Plan for Agricultural Investment (2010-2015) and a National Plan for Food and Nutritional Security (2010-2015). In this context, investments in the agriculture sector are the key to rehabilitate and increase the resilience of the agriculture sector, which accounts for 25% of Haiti's GDP ($254 million) and employs up to two thirds of its population. In November 2012, FAO and the government of Haiti called for $74 million over the next 12 months to help small farmers plant crops for this year's harvest.
Another example of FAO’s support in the Caribbean is the assistance to farmers’ organizations to diversify production and market through the strengthening of value chains and solid farmer market links. In coordination with the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), farmers in the region received training in agribusiness, improved production and marketing techniques. With FAO’s support, CaFAN’s capacities expanded to cover now 15 countries in the region. In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, FAO supported the local member of CaFAN, the Eastern Caribbean Trading and Agriculture Development Organization (ECTAD), which currently counts more than 700 producers associated.
UNDESA SIDS Website
38 countries meet anti-hunger targets for 2015 (FAO news)
FAO Director-General praises Cuba’s advances in the fight against hunger (FAO news)
FAO’s José Graziano da Silva at CELAC-EU Summit: "No sustainable development while there is hunger (FAO news)
FAO Director-General and Haitian President urge increased investment in Haiti (FAO news)
Improved farmers’ organizations support Caribbean economies (FAO in action)
Profile of the Small-Scale Farming in the Caribbean, 2012 (FAO, Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger initiative)
The Outlook for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Americas 2013: A Perspective on Latin America and the Caribbean (FAO-OECD)
New leadership spearheading organizational reform and bold new initiatives
· The state of food insecurity in the world 2012 (FAO, IFAD, WFP)