SECTION 5: UNITING AND ORGANIZING TO FIGHT HUNGER

This section draws substantially on the Declaration of the 2009 Rome Summit on World Food Security, on the VGRtF, on the UCFA and several other documents and instruments that reflect a widespread and growing consensus on the best ways to design, coordinate, implement, support, finance and monitor food security and nutrition strategies and programmes.

Good governance for food security and nutrition at all levels – global, regional and particularly national – is a prime requisite for progress in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Good governance requires governments to prioritize strategies, policies, programmes and funding to tackle hunger and malnutrition, and the international community to coordinate and mobilize meaningful support, whether through humanitarian or development assistance, nationally, bilaterally or multilaterally, that is aligned with country priorities.

The persistence of widespread hunger, and in more recent years the economic crisis and excessive volatility of food prices, has exposed the fragility of global mechanisms for food security and nutrition. Coordination between actors at national, regional and global level has been inadequate. Overcoming the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition will require promoting coherence of all appropriate national and international policies with the right to food, convergent policies, strategies and programmes that give urgent priority to meeting both the long-term needs and emergency requests for food security and nutrition. Successful pursuit of these objectives requires cross-sectoral government support, political will and long-term coordinated actions. Interventions need to be properly financed and benefit from adequate capacities both to implement them and monitor their impact (UCFA para 8).

5.01  CORE ACTIONS AT COUNTRY LEVEL

The main responsibility of States for ensuring the food security of their citizens has been reaffirmed on many occasions, including in the affirmation of the first Rome Principle for Sustainable Food Security, focusing on country-owned and country-led plans, which reads:

"We reaffirm that food security is a national responsibility and that any plans for addressing food security challenges must be nationally articulated, designed, owned and led, and built on consultation with all key stakeholders.We will make food security a high priority and will reflect this in our national programmes and budgets” (Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security, paragraph 9) .

The following recommendations consolidate the most important lessons for country-level action, including among others:

  1. States should set up or strengthen interministerial mechanisms responsible for national food security and nutrition strategies, policies and programmes;
  2. Those mechanisms should ideally be formed and coordinated at a high level of government, consolidated in national law, and involve representatives from ministries or national agencies from all areas related to food security and nutrition, including agriculture, social protection, development, health, infrastructure, education, finance, industry and technology;
  3. National food security and nutrition strategies, whether or not embedded in broader development or poverty reduction strategies, should be comprehensive, strengthen local and national food systems and address all pillars of food security and nutrition, including availability, access, utilization and stability;
  4. Mechanisms should be created or strengthened to coordinate strategies and actions with local levels of government; States should consider setting up multistakeholder platforms and frameworks at local and national levels for the design, implementation and monitoring of food security and nutrition strategies, legislation, policies and programmes, possibly by integrating multistakeholder mechanisms with national coordination mechanisms. Stakeholders should include, as appropriate, local governments, civil society, the private sector, farmers’ organizations, small-scale and traditional food producers, women and youth associations, representatives of the groups most affected by food insecurity and, when appropriate, donors and development partners;
  5. Develop and/or strengthen mapping and monitoring mechanisms in order to better coordinate actions by different stakeholders and promote accountability;
  6. In designing national food security and nutrition strategies and programmes, States should endeavour to consider the potential unintended or negative impacts these may have on food security and nutrition in other States.

Implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines

Beyond the recommendations in the previous section, the VGRtF offer countries practical guidance for developing effective institutional and adequate legal frameworks, establishing independent monitoring mechanisms, and implementing these frameworks.

The following seven steps are recommended to implement the VGRtF (drafted by the Right to Food Unit at FAO):

Step One: Identify who the food insecure are, where they live, and why they are hungry. Using disaggregated data, analyse the underlying causes of their food insecurity to enable governments to better target their efforts.

Step Two: Undertake a careful assessment, in consultation with key stakeholders, of existing policies, institutions, legislation, programmes and budget allocations to better identify both constraints and opportunities to meet the needs and rights of the food insecure.

Step Three: Based on the assessment, adopt a national human-rights-based strategy for food security and nutrition as a roadmap for coordinated government action to progressively realize the right to adequate food. This strategy should include targets, timeframes, responsibilities and evaluation indicators that are known to all, and should be the basis for the allocation of budgetary resources.

Step Four: Identify the roles and responsibilities of the relevant public institutions at all levels in order to ensure transparency, accountability and effective coordination and, if necessary, establish, reform or improve the organization and structure of these public institutions.

Step Five: Consider the integration of the right to food into national legislation, such as the constitution, a framework law, or a sectoral law, thus setting a long-term binding standard for government and stakeholders.

Step Six: Monitor the impact and outcomes of policies, legislation, programmes and projects, with a view to measuring the achievement of stated objectives, filling possible gaps and constantly improving government action. This could include right to food impact assessments of policies and programmes. Particular attention needs to be given to monitoring the food security situation of vulnerable groups, especially women, children and the elderly, and their nutritional status, including the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies.

Step Seven: Establish accountability and claims mechanisms, which may be judicial, extrajudicial or administrative, to enable rights-holders to hold governments accountable and to ensure that corrective action can be taken without delay when policies or programmes are not implemented or delivering the expected services.

5.02  IMPROVING REGIONAL SUPPORT TO NATIONAL AND LOCAL ACTIONS

While the country level is the most vital, most countries stand to benefit from improved coordination and collaboration at regional level. In accordance with their mandates, some important roles of regional intergovernmental organizations are to provide political incentives and technical guidance to promote response at the country level, and to help build regional markets, while pooling risks and responses of their membership. Many regional organizations have developed policy frameworks that provide a conceptual basis for the development of national policy and practical guidance on inclusive planning processes. These processes are essential for promoting and supporting the partnerships needed at country level for improving food security and nutrition.

In accordance with their mandates, regional bodies can have an important role to play in developing regional policies to address the cross-border dimensions of food security and nutrition, and build strong regional markets. Such policies are based on the strong intraregional complementarities between ecology, production and consumption. They address the need for shared management of transboundary resources such as rivers and river basins, aquifers, pastoral lands and marine resources as well as shared management of transboundary pests. Such policies include regional investment for fostering national efforts, and tackling specific issues such as lifting intraregional trade barriers, reinforcing regional value chains, harmonizing information systems, coordinating monitoring systems for food emergencies and mobilizing resources.

In accordance with their mandates, regional platforms can provide space for dialogue among regional groupings, governments, donors and UN agencies. They facilitate common agreement on shared principles and proposed actions and pave the way for improved alignment of policies. They can also provide opportunities for monitoring and evaluation of performance and tracking governments’ expenditures and aid flows, thus stimulating better coordination among donors, regional multilateral development banks and UN agencies. While not strictly regional, platforms of peer or like-minded countries such as the OECD and G-20 can fill several of the same roles.

Finally, regional organizations and platforms can provide a useful interface between the global and national levels by contributing to disseminate and adapt internationally accepted practices and lessons in a regionally appropriate context and with institutions that are closer to national governments.

In order to fully realize the above benefits and improve support from regional bodies to national actions, where appropriate, the following measures are recommended, among others:

  1. Development or strengthening of regional coordination mechanisms involving all relevant stakeholders, to develop or update regional strategies or frameworks for food security and nutrition, which shall make use of the region’s specificities and leverage the strengths and comparative advantages of existing regional institutions;
  2. Convergence, consolidation or coordination of different regional and subregional efforts to establish clear regional food security and nutrition strategies, policies and ownership;
  3. Promotion of linkages between regional mechanisms and frameworks and CFS, including by promoting two-way communication aimed at improved policy convergence and coordination;
  4. Reinforcing alignment and coherence of the technical and financial contributions by international aid, regional banks, regional technical agencies and regional platforms of farmers, the private sector and CSOs in support of regional and national strategies;
  5. Greater donor support for regional economic integration processes and the use of regional entities as effective partners in supporting the development and implementation of national food security and nutrition strategies, policies and programmes;
  6. Coordination of regional policies with regard to trade of agricultural inputs and products as well as compliance with internationally and regionally agreed standards in order to facilitate intraregional trade;
  7. Consideration of the need, among others, for strategic food reserves for emergency humanitarian purposes, social safety nets or other risk management instruments that promote food security and benefit women and men in poor and marginalized communities;
  8. Regional value chains, especially for infrastructure development, should be strengthened since they have the potential to expand markets by providing incentives for domestic and foreign private investors to make responsible long-term investments in agroprocessing and agribusiness, compliant with national legislation.

5.03  IMPROVING GLOBAL SUPPORT TO REGIONAL AND NATIONAL ACTIONS, AND RESPONSE TO GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Overcoming the scourge of hunger will require the concerted efforts of the whole world. The international community has two key roles to play in this regard: the first is to improve its support to regional and national efforts; the second is to coordinate responses to global challenges related to food insecurity and malnutrition.

The international community has repeatedly asserted its commitment to support national governments in their efforts to combat hunger. The affirmation of the First Rome Principle for Sustainable Global Food Security includes a commitment to “intensify international support to advance effective country-led and regional strategies, to develop country-led investment plans, and to promote mutual responsibility, transparency and accountability”. Principles 2 and 4 are also directly related to improving international support to countries . The 2009 L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action also address this issue.

Providers of international development assistance are many and varied. They range from individual donor countries, to multilateral international agencies, international and regional financing institutions, international NGOs and private-sector foundations. The challenge for global governance is to ensure that these various actors are not duplicating activities and that their administrative requirements do not place an unreasonable burden upon beneficiary countries. High fragmentation means that many developing countries still struggle to conciliate their own strategic needs and priorities with the procedures, conditions, timeframes, limits and portfolios of a very broad number of partners. The problem is even more acute for least developed countries, which usually lack the resources and capacity to manage a large number of partnerships and are more reliant on international assistance.

Organizations and agencies in the UN system are making a major effort to streamline and coordinate their assistance through the work of the UN Country Teams, through joint programming and through activities such as the  Delivering as One concept, and have also developed the UCFA to guide and coordinate their actions.

With respect to addressing global challenges related to food security and nutrition, some progress has been made in addressing issues that require global efforts such as climate change, biodiversity, genetic resources, excessive price volatility, international fishing, trade, food standards and others. While political attention and priority has accelerated since the 2008 food crisis, further progress will require, in many cases, finding consensus and overcoming on some difficult political and economical differences (see Section 6).

Broad consensus, exists, however, for a strategy to achieve improved global support to country and regional efforts, and to better respond to global challenges, including, among others, the following key elements:

Improving global support to the regional and country levels:

  1. Adoption of a strategic and programmatic approach: international organizations, regional organizations, development agencies and others should move away from isolated projects and towards a strategic and programmatic approach that has country-led strategies as its cornerstone, preferably in partnership with other donors, aiming at scaling up initiatives;
  2. Technical cooperation: developed and developing countries and multilateral agencies should cooperate to increase synergy in their efforts to enhance food security and nutrition through technical cooperation, including institutional capacity development and transfer of technology, and increasing agricultural productivity related to food security and nutrition;
  3. South-South and triangular cooperation (South South Conference) should be supported since it offers real opportunities for the transfer of policy experience and technologies needed for boosting agricultural productivity in developing countries. It also opens up investment and market opportunities on a more level playing field than currently exists for many producers;
  4. Partnerships: countries, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, all relevant NGOs and other stakeholders should promote strengthening of partnerships and coordinated action in the field, including joint programmes and capacity development efforts; international organizations, especially the Rome based UN food agencies, should further strengthen their partnerships under the Delivering as One principles and the One UN initiative;
  5. Mapping of food security and nutrition actions and resource flows: support actions at country level contributing to comprehensive mapping of food security and nutrition actions and resource flows, under the supervision of the beneficiary country, in order to promote greater alignment and convergence (CFS 37 Final Report, paragraph 54.;
    1. Official Development Assistance (ODA) (OECD Statistics on ODA): donor countries should make concrete efforts towards attaining ODA targets of 0.7 per cent of gross national income, to the developing countries as a whole, and 0.15 to 0.2 per cent to least developed countries, as applicable;
    1. Food assistance: countries that provide food assistance should base it on sound needs assessments that involve beneficiaries as well as other relevant stakeholders where possible, and target especially needy and vulnerable groups. Food assistance should be provided only when it is the most effective and appropriate means of addressing the food or nutrition needs of the most vulnerable populations. Food assistance can play a vital role in saving lives, protecting livelihoods and build people’s resilience. Food assistance, like all assistance, should avoid creating dependency. Food should be purchased wherever possible and appropriate on a local or regional basis or provided in the form of cash or voucher transfers;
    2. External debt: countries and international organization should consider pursuing external debt relief measures in order to release resources for combating hunger, alleviating rural and urban poverty and promoting sustainable development(1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action, paragraph 53 Objective 6.2 and paragraph 53 items m and n.; VGRtF, Chapter III, para 11)

    Addressing global challenges

    1. Trade: local, national, regional and international trade can play a major role in the promotion of economic development and the alleviation of poverty, as well as improving food security and nutrition at the national level; countries should promote regional and international trade as one of the effective instruments for development; it is important to promote consistency of trade and development and environmental policies, social, economic and political functions that influence outcomes of strategies against poverty and food insecurity;
    2. Climate change: increase the national capacities of developing countries, heightening international cooperation and transfer of technology intended to improve adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change and the efficiency of production systems
    1. Research: stimulate public-private partnerships as well as national and international agricultural research, including bilateral and multi-lateral research collaboration, in particular under the CGIAR umbrella and in coordination with the GCARD process.

    5.04  MAKING IT HAPPEN: LINKING POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES WITH RESOURCES

    The sustainability of efforts to secure food security and nutrition for all depends primarily on countries’ own public expenditure. In terms of sectoral financing in developing counties, there is a consensus on the need to increase the share of public expenditures focused on agriculture, food security and nutrition. While estimates of global funding requirements vary considerably, there is general agreement on the need to reverse and compensate for the decline in investment in agriculture, food security and nutrition over the past 25 years and implement commitments entered into in the past.

    Governments and other actors should take, among others, the following elements into consideration when deciding on developing financing strategies:

    1. National budgets should clearly allocate stable and meaningful resources to implement national food security and nutrition strategies, and their use should be allocated in a transparent and accountable manner. States should strive to ensure that budget cuts do not negatively affect access to adequate food among the poorest sections of society (Based on VGRtF, Guidelines 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3;
    2. Global estimates should include the cost of developing and implementing improved and more sustainable social programmes and safety nets, as an inherent component of the food security and nutrition agenda;
    3. The primary importance of domestic private investment in agriculture, in particular investment by farmers, and the need to find ways to mobilize and unlock the additional potential of domestic investment through better access to financial services and markets; this may require innovative financing approaches in order to: lessen the risks of lending to agriculture; develop appropriate financial products for farmers; improve the performance of agricultural markets; and improve farmers’ financial literacy;
    4. ODA continues to have an important role in coordinating and accelerating planning and implementation of food security and nutrition investment plans; the fight against undernutrition and hunger should not be constrained by the current revenues available to developing countries; ODA is critical to support key public investments including social programmes, safety nets, infrastructure, research, extension and capacity development; improved transparency and accountability in the fulfilment of ODA commitments for food security and nutrition should be achieved;
    5. Private investment is an important source of investment financing that is complementary to public investment focused on ODA, but needs to take place in a context that ensures consistency with national food security and nutrition objectives;
    6. Remittances are an important source of funding for development and economic growth in many developing countries. Efforts should be made to facilitate the mobilization of remittance resources for development, food security and nutrition;
    7. Mapping food security and nutrition actions and their links to resource flows is important to promote increased resource alignment in support of national and regional strategies and programmes.

    5.05  MONITORING AND FOLLOW-UP

    The CFS Reform Document states that one of the roles of CFS is to “promote accountability and share best practices at all levels.” In this sense, “the CFS should help countries and regions, as appropriate, address the questions of whether objectives are being achieved and how food insecurity and malnutrition can be reduced more quickly and effectively. This will entail developing an innovative mechanism, including the definition of common indicators, to monitor progress towards these agreed-upon objectives and actions, taking into account lessons learned from the CFS process itself and other monitoring attempts.” To this end, the CFS Bureau has established an open-ended working group to develop proposals for effective monitoring, which will be incorporated in subsequent versions of the GSF once approved by CFS.

    A comprehensive monitoring and accountability strategy for food security and nutrition requires several distinct components, which vary in their objective, approach, and preferred level of implementation. Basic descriptions and guidelines for some of the most important ones follow.

    a.    Accountability for commitments and results

    Accountability for commitments and for results is crucial, especially for advancing the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, and it is noted that those countries making the greatest progress on food security and nutrition are those that have demonstrated the greatest political will, with a strong political and financial commitment that is open and transparent to all stakeholders. Objectives to be monitored should include nutritional outcomes, right to food indicators, agricultural sector performance, progress towards achievement of the SDGs, particularly SDG2, and regionally agreed targets.

    The five principles that should apply to monitoring and accountability systems are that:

    1. They should be human-rights based, with particular reference to the progressive realization of the right to adequate food;
    2. They should make it possible for decision-makers to be accountable;
    3. They should be participatory and include assessments that involve all stakeholders and beneficiaries, including the most vulnerable;
    4. They should be simple, yet comprehensive, accurate, timely and understandable to all, with indicators disaggregated by sex, age, region, etc., that capture impact, process and expected outcomes;
    5. They should not duplicate existing systems, but rather build upon and strengthen national statistical and analytical capacities.

    Progress towards reaching food security and nutrition targets is already monitored in many forums, including international, regional and national bodies. While international bodies will continue their work in global monitoring of hunger and malnutrition and progress towards achievement of the SDGs, countries need to establish their own mechanisms for involving multiple stakeholders in monitoring and reporting progress towards their stated objectives, and consider options for effective and inclusive governance of food security and nutrition at the national level.

    b)    The monitoring of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition in all its forms

     

    This component relates to monitoring actual hunger, whether of short or long term. It should be the main responsibility of countries, with support from regional and international organizations. FAO, IFAD and WFP have important roles in this regard, including, among others, in the annual publication, together with WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, which consolidates and analyses data from member countries; in supporting national information systems; and in the provision of Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping and Food Security Needs Assessments, important to help countries to prevent and address food crises. Other information monitoring and analysis work currently under way is described in the UCFA.

    Well-functioning information, monitoring and accountability systems, with sex- and age-disaggregated data, are important for establishing the current status of agricultural development, food security and nutrition and enjoyment of the right of food in a country; identifying the magnitude and distribution of needs among different livelihood groups; and encouraging greater effectiveness, accountability, transparency and coordination of responses to these needs.
    There is much work to be done at country, regional and global levels to improve information systems, data collection, and harmonizing methodologies and indicators to estimate hunger and malnutrition in all its forms.

    In this regard, CFS agreed to the following recommendations (CFS 37 Final Report, para 57):

    1. Endorsed the proposal of creating a suite of core food security indicators, including the development, adoption and promotion of internationally accepted standards;
    2. Strongly recommended that FAO improves its measure of undernourishment with special emphasis on improving the timeliness and reliability of the underlying data and parameters included in the methodology;
    3. Strongly encouraged FAO and other relevant agencies to strengthen their capacity development efforts in order to enhance both basic food and agricultural statistics and specific food security monitoring systems;
    4. Urged countries to strengthen their national information systems on food security and nutrition;
    5. Underlined the need to better integrate all actions related to food security and nutrition information at all levels, and encouraged the mobilization of resources towards that end;
    6. Recommended that the dialogue between policy-makers, statistical agencies and data providers be further intensified in order to better identify and link information needs for the design, implementation and monitoring of food security policies to the supply of such information.

    c)    Mapping food security and nutrition actions

    Another component of a monitoring strategy is the mapping of food security and nutrition actions and initiatives at all levels.

    In this regard, CFS endorsed the following recommendations:  (CFS 37 Final Report, paragraphs 54-55. The Committee also endorsed a number of specific programmatic and technical recommendations related to mapping, which can be found in Annex J)

    1. Interested stakeholders and relevant sectors are urged to participate in assisting countries with the development and implementation of mapping food security and nutrition actions, forming appropriate multisectoral and multistakeholder partnerships and working towards harmonization of methods;
    2. Adequate resources should be made available to fund follow-up activities to provide interested countries with technical support for the development and implementation of food security and nutrition mapping systems as part of their national development monitoring efforts;
    3. The process of mapping food security and nutrition actions should be made an integral part of national information systems covering the food and agricultural sector, and a standard methodology should be used at country level.

    d)    Monitoring and follow-up of state of implementation of CFS recommendations

    In line with CFS mandate, some way should be found to monitor the state of implementation of the Committee’s own decisions and recommendations, so as to allow for the reinforcement of the coordination and policy convergence roles of CFS. The Committee endorsed a methodological approach as a first step towards the development of a framework for monitoring CFS decisions and recommendations. The approach is based on the following assessment criteria: relevance of CFS; inclusiveness and participation; coordination and engagement; promotion of policy convergence; evidence-based decision-making; CFS communication strategy; CFS responsiveness; CFS influence; and capacity for uptake.

    The Committee endorsed Terms of reference for sharing experiences and good practices in applying CFS decisions and recommendations through organizing events at national, regional and global levels. The Terms of reference provide guidance to stakeholders for sharing their experiences and lessons, on a voluntary basis, in implementing CFS decisions and recommendations through events. They also provide a framework to stakeholders to contribute to global thematic events which will be held during the plenary sessions. The objective of such events will be to take stock of the use and application of CFS decisions and recommendations.