TWENTY-FIFTH FAO REGIONAL
Beirut, Lebanon, 20-24 March 2000
REPORT ON THE WORLD FOOD
II. FOLLOW-UP TO THE WORLD FOOD SUMMIT IN THE NEAR EAST REGION
Regional Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security
C. World Food Day/TeleFood
D. Cooperation within the UN System and other Regional Institutions
III. ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATIONS
REPORT ON STRATEGIES FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND FOOD SECURITY IN THE NEAR EAST REGION
1. The World Food Summit (WFS) was convened in Rome from 13 to 17 November 1996 at the level of Heads of State and Government, with representatives from 185 countries and the European Community. This historic event brought together close to 10,000 participants and provided a forum for debate on one of the most important issues facing world leaders in the new millennium- the eradication of hunger.
2. The adoption by 112 Heads or Deputy Heads of State and Government, and by over 70 high-level representatives from other countries of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action, at a meeting which also witnessed the active involvement of representatives of inter-governmental organisations (IGOs), and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), among others, has helped to influence public opinion and has provided a framework for bringing about important changes in policies and programmes needed to achieve Food for All. The Summit subsequently received the unanimous endorsement of the United Nations General Assembly.
3. The objective of the Summit was to renew global commitment at the highest political level to eliminating hunger and malnutrition and to achieving sustainable food security for all people. In the event, the high visibility of the Summit has raised awareness among decision-makers in the public and private sectors, in the media and with the public at large. It has also set the political, conceptual and technical blueprint for an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries
4. The Summit made a number of commitments to achieve food security for all and to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people by half no later than 2015. The seven Commitments, embodied in the Summit's Plan of Action, relate to creating an enabling political, social and economic environment; eradication of poverty and inequality and improving economic access by all people at all times; pursuing participatory and sustainable food and agriculture and rural development policies and practices; ensuring that food, agriculture trade and overall trade policies are conducive to fostering food security for all; prevention of, and in the event of their occurrence, preparedness for natural and man-made disasters.
5. Commitment Seven stresses that the focus of action lies at the country level, where governments have the main responsibility, involving all actors, to create the economic and political environment within which action can be taken to assure the food security of their citizens. A large number of countries has already started to prepare national plans of action involving all sectors of society. The World Food Summit Plan of Action also calls upon governments to launch national "Food for All" campaigns, marshalling all sectors of civil society and their resources to help implement the measures identified. The first stage of these campaigns is for countries to set up a national forum which would include NGOs, civil society including universities, research institutes, parliamentarians, women's and youth groups, the media and other groups which may be part of a constituency for food and food security issues.
6. The importance of strong regional and international cooperation in the effective implementation of the Plan of Action is also underlined. The priority given to supporting and stimulating country-level activities is one of the fundamental principles behind arrangements for cooperation among United Nations organisations in the follow-up to the Summit.
7. Within the United Nations system, FAO's Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is responsible for monitoring, evaluating and consulting on the international food security situation. It analyses food needs, assesses availability and monitors and disseminates information on stock levels. The CFS also recommends policies to ensure adequate cereal supplies for food security surveillance that monitor current and prospective food supply/demand situations.
8. The CFS was designated by the Summit to monitor implementation of the Plan of Action and to undertake a major review by the year 2006, at the latest. During the 23rd meeting of the CFS in April 1997, arrangements were agreed for monitoring and reporting on implementation of the Summit's Plan of Action involving three streams of reporting from: national governments; UN agencies on follow-up and inter-agency coordination; and other relevant international institutions. The deadline for presentation to FAO of the national reports was set at 31 January 1998. These individual reports, providing the baseline situation and orientations which governments intend to pursue, were used as the basis for an initial Progress Report on the Implementation of the Plan of Action considered by the CFS at its session in June 1998.
9. Ninety-three governments and 37 international organizations submitted reports on the implementation of the PoA until end 1997. Many countries conducted the review of their policies and programmes in the light of the Commitments they entered into at the Summit, and some had widely disseminated their National Plan of Action, including where applicable, action for international cooperation, based on a preparation process that broadly involved governmental and civil society partners.
10. The CFS has established its workplan for future monitoring, endorsed by the Council, so as to conduct two complete cycles of review of implementation of the WFS PoA prior to the mid-term review, mandated for 2006 of progress towards the target of halving the number of undernourished no later than 2015. The Committee also considered in-depth, at its 25th Session in 1999, steps to broaden the participation of civil society organizations in its work.
11. In preparation for the Twenty-sixth Session of the CFS to be held in September 2000, a reporting format has been adopted by the Committee that will form the basis for all future reporting on the progress of the implementation of the PoA. This format calls for the provision of information that will give a meaningful indication of progress, while at the same time remaining understandable and flexible. The first set of reports, on Commitments One, Two, Five and relevant parts of Commitment Seven, was required in Rome by the end of 1999, at the latest, in order to prepare for the Committee's debate later in 2000. Countries are encouraged to adopt internal reporting arrangements appropriate to their national government structures to monitor progress in monitoring the WFS PoA internally, and to prepare the periodic reports required at global level.
12. This section, covering three major areas of action by FAO and its partners, does not purport to be exhaustive. The Summit commitments continue to influence the substantive priorities and programmes of the Organization, as well as the work of all of its Technical Committees. The Regional Conferences now have WFS implementation as a standing item on their agendas. The theme of food security also serves as a major focus for FAO's advocacy work through public information programmes, World Food Day and Telefood.
13. In the inter-agency sphere, FAO provides the Secretariat of the ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security, and backstops 80 country-level Thematic Groups, of which 63 are now well established with agendas and work programmes. At the international level FAO is collaborating closely with IFAD and WFP to support the work of these groups, which function within the framework of the UN Resident Coordinator System.
14. FAO continues to actively support the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in implementing Objective 7.4 of the Plan of Action on the right to adequate food. Two Expert Consultations on the subject were conducted, in December 1997 and in November 1998, which was co-hosted by FAO. Another symposium was co-organized by the ACC Sub-Committee on Nutrition in April 1999 focusing on "The substance and politics of a human rights approach to food and nutrition policies and programmes". In May 1999, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted a General Comment on the Right to Adequate Food. (See also para 30).
15. The FAO Twenty-Fourth Regional Conference for the Near East in 1998 devoted a one-day meeting for a discussion on WFS follow-up in which the views of NGOs were also heard. Currently, the decentralized Office in Cairo is assuming full responsibility in the Near East Region, supported by the Sub-regional Office in Tunis. Specific WFS follow-up activities at country and regional levels are taking place. These activities include, in general, FAO Programme; FAO Special Programmes and initiatives; and FAO Cooperation with the UN System and Other Regional Institutions.
16. FAO activities implemented in the Region during the reporting period are adequately described in "Document NERC/00/2 - Report on FAO Activities in the Near East Region 1998-1999". The report stresses on the activities that contribute directly and indirectly to the WFS as reflected in the actions taken in the response to past decisions, the ongoing programme of work and the future programme orientation to face priority issues in the Region. The FAO activities in the Near East Region related to WFS include activities in the area of agricultural policy analysis, agricultural production intensification, field crop development, agro-industries and agricultural services, animal production and health, agricultural trade, agricultural statistics, sustainable development and agricultural research, forestry development, fisheries development, and agricultural investment.
Regional Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security.
17. Though most of the critical issues related to poverty and food insecurity have national characteristics, to reinforce national policies and programmes and take advantage of synergies and complementarities at regional and sub-regional levels, FAO has undertaken to expand its co-operation with Regional and Sub-regional Economic Groupings (REGs) of developing countries and countries in transition. FAO stands ready to assist the REGs in the formulation of policies and programmes designed to promote sustainable agricultural and food production, better access to food, food safety, and the enhancement of trade in food and agricultural products at national, sub-regional and regional levels.
18. To pursue this commitment, FAO, in collaboration with the relevant regional and sub-regional institutions, is elaborating for each relevant REG a Regional Strategy for Agricultural Development and Food Security (RSADFS). Each RSADFS draws extensively, but not exclusively, on the findings, conclusions and key policy recommendations of the Strategies for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010. Details about this endeavor are provided in the Annex.
19. The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) was launched after its unanimous approval by the FAO Council in 1994. The Programme's main objectives are to assist LIFDCs to rapidly increase food production and productivity on a sustainable basis, reduce the year-to-year variability of production, and improve access to food, as a contribution to equity and poverty alleviation.
20. The core features of the SPFS strategy are national ownership, partnership with the development partners, including donor countries and multilateral financial institutions, participation of farmers and other stakeholders, emphasis on technical modernisation, priority to small farmers and gender sensitivity.
21. To date over 75 developing countries applied to participate in the SPFS. The lessons learned and results obtained so far have led to the extension of on-going country programmes and a rapid incorporation of new countries. By January 2000 the Programme was operational in 55 countries, including 5 countries (Egypt, Djibouti, Mauritania, Sudan and Syria) in the Near East.
22. As a follow-up to the World Food Summit, FAO has responded positively to all Government requests to participate in the SPFS. FAO is considering positively all government requests for technical assistance to support the initiation of the programme in these countries. In all countries of the Near East Region, the SPFS has been initiated by the national authorities to support the development of water utilization as a spearhead for increasing food production and distribution. National Teams have been established and potential sites have been selected.
23. The South-South Coopeartion (SSC) initiative was launched by the Director-General in 1996 within the framework of the SPFS, with the objective of allowing recipient countries to benefit from the expertise accumulated by more advanced developing countries. The SSC consists of a combination of a few senior staff and a substantial number of technicians with strong practical field experience in agriculture who are expected to work directly with farmers, during two to three years, in the rural communities involved in the Special Programme. The teams are not only expected to introduce improved ways of bringing about sustainable and replicable agricultural development, but also, through their commitment and example, serve as an important stimulus for change within the farming structures to which they are assigned. The number of experts and technicians required is determined on a case-by-case basis, but must achieve a critical mass, with site coverage representing all agroecological regions of the country. They are fielded in a phased manner and axpected to play a key role in contributing to the implementation and extension of Phase I by the national teams. The status of the SSC for the countries in the Near East Region is included in overall description provided below.
24. The FAO Conference at its 26th session in 1997 welcomed and approved the Director-General's decision to allocate, in their entirety, the proceeds collected through the TeleFood appeal to the financing of concrete grassroot-level projects, none of these proceeds being diverted to administrative or other costs and to rely on sponsorship and other private and public voluntary contributions to meet the costs of promoting and coordinating the operation. It also endorsed the Director-General's decision to create (under Financial Regulation 6.7) a Special Fund to receive the proceeds collected, and a Trust Fund to receive sponsorship and other private and public voluntary contributions for financing the costs relating to promotion and coordination of the worldwide TeleFood operation.
25. In support of TeleFood, many national media outlets of member states of the Near East Region, including satellite channels, have joined hands with FAO in promoting TeleFood's objectives. To raise the public's awareness of the plight of 800 million hungry people in the world and to collect donations to finance small scale projects aimed at increasing the productivity and living standards of rural poor farmers in developing countries. On the regional level, Arab Radio and Television (ART) and the Arab News Network (ANN) were among the leading Pan Arab operators that have promoted the goals of TeleFood in this region.
26. In 1999 and in collaboration with ART and ANN, major TeleFood productions were aired. A very successful celebrity auction organized by ART was held in Cairo on 19 October, 1999. The four and a half hour live-broadcast programme reached millions of television viewers throughout the Near East as well as in Africa, the Americas and Europe. Bids for items donated by celebrities from the Arab world and elsewhere were made both from within the ballroom and by callers around the globe. Donations to the TeleFood Fund were also called in from around the world, adding to the success of the fund-raiser. Many people made modest contributions, including pocket money donated by a group of schoolchildren in Egypt. Every single donation will go to help poor farmers, fishers and herders.
27. On 15 and 16 October, ANN launched two months of TeleFood programming with special five-hour shows on both days. The internationally broadcast programmes featured information on TeleFood along with entertainment including several Arab celebrities. The ANN TeleFood campaign will continue through December, during Ramadhan. Programming will include information segments on TeleFood and the work of FAO, and it will also call upon the generosity of the public to contribute to the TeleFood Fund.
28. In the Near East, TeleFood funded Projects are currently being implemented in Djibouti, Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen. A number of project proposals are being prepared for implementation in the near future.
Cooperation within the UN System.
29. The priority accorded to stimulating and supporting action at the country level is one of the fundamental principles underlying the arrangements for inter-agency cooperation in follow-up to the World Food Summit. After the Summit, a proposal for inter-agency coordination of Summit follow-up through a Network on Rural Development and Food Security was made to ACC by FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with a view to ensuring maximum cost-effectiveness, country-level focus, flexibility and efficiency, avoiding institutional additionality at a time of shrinking budgets within and outside the UN system. ACC approved the proposal, which was implemented progressively during 1997 by FAO and IFAD, working closely with the World Food Programme (WFP).
30. The FAO Conference welcomed the establishment of the ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security as an important means of ensuring a multi-disciplinary input by the UN system to support national efforts to implement the Plan of Action. It was noted that the network was conceived as a two-tiered mechanism, with a focus on action at the country level undertaken by inter-agency thematic groups on rural development and food security operating within the UN Resident Coordinator system. At the headquarters level, the network was to provide support for country-level action and obtain feedback on experience which could be shared, as well as to facilitate dialogue between participating organizations largely through electronic means. It would also serve as a channel to mobilize reporting on follow-up to the WFS by UN System organizations, as required by the CFS, to monitor progress on the Plan of Action.
31. FAO has collaborated with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), in the preparation of the General Comment on the "Right to Adequate Food", that was adopted on 11 May 1999, it aims to identify some of the principal issues which the CESCR considers to be important, in relation to the Right to Adequate Food. The General Comment was presented to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its 25th Session held in Rome, in 1999. The CFS welcomed the General Comment as an important step in implementing Objective 7.4 of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, and noted the reference to the need, for UN agencies, including FAO, to provide assistance to developing countries, upon request, and noted that the assistance should draw fully on the expertise of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The CFS commended the collaboration between FAO and CESCR.
Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS).
32. Progress in the inter-agency FIVIMS initiative has been rapid and encouraging. Although the FIVIMS initiative is in the early stages of its implementation, it is already stimulating the production of better information on food security at both international and national levels. National governments are beginning to take new FIVIMS initiatives on their own to better identify and deal with specific, locally-defined problems of food insecurity. A large number of requests for assistance from national governments are being received by the Secretariat of the inter-agency working group on FIVIMS.
33. The technical Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on FIVIMS was set up in December 1997 and two additional meetings have been held subsequently. A fourth one is scheduled for February 2000 in Indonesia. Participation in the IAWG has now increased to 25 organizational members, including thirteen from the UN System.
34. The thirtieth session of the FAO Conference noted with appreciation the initiative taken by FAO to play a catalytic role in elaboration and definition of a Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS) in collaboration with concerned UN System organizations, competent national institutions and non-governmental organizations, and supported plans for its further development. It considered that accurate and timely data was fundamental to national and international response to the problem of hunger and malnutrition, and stressed the need for full participation by developing countries in the establishment of national FIVIMS to be linked within the decentralized international system. The Conference was informed that arrangements envisaged reliance to the maximum extent possible on existing data bases and mechanisms. The suggestion was made that the range of partners could be broadened to include other large-scale data bases covering themes related to food security. The first edition of The State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) in the World was published in October 1999. By providing latest estimates of the number of chronically hungry people in the developing world, the SOFI reports will serve as regular progress reports on global and national efforts to reach the goal set by the World Food Summit in 1996 - i.e. to reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by half by the year 2015.
35. Four national Thematic Groups affiliated to the ACC Network in the Near East - in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen - have identified Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping Systems (FIVIMS), as priority themes for concerted country-level action.
36. Focus will be placed on the implementation at country level of the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS) through identification of the food-insecure and vulnerable groups (who they are and where they are located), estimation of their numbers, determination of the degree of inadequacy of food consumption and undernutrition among them, and ascertaining why they are food-insecure or vulnerable. In this regard, project proposals for assisting the establishment of national FIVIMS are under way in Turkey and Yemen, while work is underway to launch pilot FIVIMS activities in Egypt.
37. For strengthening sub-regional and regional cooperation, and for optimizing the use of available resources, as well as for complementing the work of the regional organizations, RNE has spear-headed the efforts for the establishment of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on Land and Water Resources (including nine regional organizations) for initiating collaborative work leading to conservative and sustainable use of the region's natural resources.
38. As a follow-up to the WFS, FAO is also assisting the countries of the Region in building development capacities through training national staff on issues related to food security policies and economic reform. Near East Regional Training Seminars on Food Security Policies; Food and Agriculture Policy Analysis with emphasis on Rural Finance and Credit Policies; and Strengthening Sustainability Issues in Agriculture Policy Analysis and Planning are prepared and held in collaboration with the countries of the region and sister regional organizations such as the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), the Near East and North Africa Rural Agricultural Credit Association (NENARACA) and the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre.for the Islamic Countries (SESRTCIC). Also, collaboration with the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, ESCWA is taking place to support the countries of the Region in exchanging experiences in the area of promoting regional co-ordination and integration in food and agriculture for countries of the Region as a follow up to the WFS.
39. Within the framework of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, member governments of the Region, in partnership with all actors of civil society, as appropriate, are urged to:
1. The purpose of this report is to inform the Regional Conference on actions taken by FAO in relation to national and regional strategies in the Near East Region as a follow up to the World Food Summit (WFS).
2. The "Draft Strategies for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010" were prepared at FAO's initiative for 150 developing member countries and countries with economies in transition, as an initial step in the preparation for the follow-up to the World Food Summit. They were drafted with a view to (i) help member governments implement at the national level commitments that have been made at the global level; (ii) create a close partnership with all collaborating United Nations (UN) system and other international development agencies in supporting member government agricultural strategy development and implementation; and (iii) help put investment in agriculture high on the national and international agendas. They are based on official government documents, including national position papers for the World Food Summit, as well as relevant information and data from FAO and other official sources. Senior officials of the governments concerned have reviewed the draft of these papers and their comments have been incorporated.
3. Updating and where necessary amending the national strategies is important for ensuring that the policies and programmes for sustainable food security at national and household level remain consistent with the changing socio-economic and food security situation in each member country. Therefore, starting in late 1999, workshops are being held in all the countries for which the draft strategy has been prepared and which wish to do so, with the aim to lead to stock taking of progress in implementation and to updating with latest information and development. It is expected that these National Workshops, organized by respective Governments, will be attended by all relevant Government officials, Parliamentary Commissions, actors of civil society, private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development partners.
4. Though most of the critical issues related to poverty and food insecurity have national characteristics, to reinforce national policies and programmes and take advantage of synergies and complementarities at regional and sub-regional levels, FAO has undertaken to expand its co-operation with Regional and Sub-regional Economic Groupings (REGs) of developing countries and countries in transition. FAO stands ready to assist the REGs in the formulation of policies and programmes designed to promote sustainable agricultural and food production, better access to food, food safety, and the enhancement of trade in food and agricultural products at national, sub-regional and regional levels.
5. To pursue this commitment, FAO, in collaboration with the relevant regional and sub-regional institutions in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Latin America and the Caribbean, is elaborating for each relevant REG a Regional Strategy for Agricultural Development and Food Security (RSADFS).
6. Each RSADFS draws extensively, but not exclusively, on the findings, conclusions and key policy recommendations of the Strategies for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010. The RSADFS highlight the commonalties of member countries with respect to agriculture and food security, identify major differences in resource endowment and policy parameters, recommend policy options and strategic thrusts for co-operative effort among members of the concerned economic grouping and propose tentative estimates of investment requirements in agriculture covering the period 1998-2010.
7. The regional strategies are complemented by Regional Programmes for Food Security (RPFS), designed to implement the key elements embodied in the RSADFS. World-wide, thirty-four REGs have been invited initially to collaborate in the preparation of the respective RSADFS and RPFS, with draft strategies and project documents prepared accordingly, and joint elaboration of the strategies and programmes is under way.
8. RSADFS and RPFS have been prepared for the following Regional/Sub-regional economic groupings which are of relevance for the member countries of the Near East region:
9. Other regional or sub-regional economic groupings, whose membership entirely overlaps that of the previously mentioned ones, have been informed of this initiative on the basis of short documents based on the main findings and recommendations of the Regional Strategies. This is the case in the Near East of the Arab Common Market (ACM); the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORARC); the League of Arab States (LAS); the Organization of African Unity (OAU); and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
10. The emphasis of RPFS is to address, in the context of the respective National and Regional strategies, those issues which are regional in character and can be better addressed at regional level. The main objective of the Regional Programmes is to contribute and improve, on a sustainable basis, access by all the people of the region at all times to adequate food required for a healthy and active life through increases in productivity, production and trade of food crops.
11. With respect to increase in productivity and production the focus is on support to and expansion of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), including the microeconomic phase as well as assistance to policy review and formulation, preparation of investment programmes in sub-sectors of agriculture, and identification and formulation of viable projects for domestic and external financing.
12. With respect to trade, the focus is on harmonised policies and measures for trade facilitation by reducing sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, technical obstacles, promoting the reduction and harmonisation of tariffs and adopting international Codex Alimentarius norms and standards. Such trade facilitation measures could induce local and national specialisation through enhanced competition, and allow for a better expression of the comparative advantage positions of the member countries of the REGs needed for enhanced food security and overall economic development.
13. As part of the one-day National Workshops to take place before the end of 1999 --referred to in paragraph 3 above--, Executive Summaries of the relevant RSADFS will be presented at the National Workshops, so as to inform participants of FAO's on-going endeavours to support regional economic groupings.