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FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

What is Europe’s role in global food security?

Growing world population and greater economic prosperity in emerging and developing economies mean increased demand for food. Meeting that demand without endangering biodiversity or other natural resources is a challenge where Europe can play multiple roles. This was the central conclusion of an expert panel in Brussels earlier this week.

The Hanns Seidel Foundation had invited panelists from the European Commission, European Parliament and FAO, among others, for an open discussion of the role of Europe in ensuring global food security. Raimund Jehle, senior field programme officer with FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, brought FAO perspectives to the discussion. Also in attendance were representatives of academia, civil society organizations, the private sector and other European institutions.

The panel agreed that feeding an expected population of 9 billion by 2050 would require increased agricultural productivity. With limited land available for expanding production area, increases must come from research and innovation. The greatest promise for productivity gains lies with developing countries – particularly small-holder agriculture.

The European Union should increase investment in research and innovation in developing countries, the panel concluded, with biotechnology playing a significant role. Developing countries also need access to markets, infrastructure development and knowledge transfer. Here Europe’s development programmes can make a key contribution.

Concern was raised that the G7 summit in Germany earlier this month had focused on reduction in the number of hungry in the world by 500 million by 2030, rather than on the elimination of hunger. Attention was also drawn to the fact that as a net importer of agricultural commodities, Europe was heavily dependent on certain commercially produced commodities such as soya.

Family farming and sustainable management of natural resources need to be better promoted, and this is an area where Europe can share its experience and good practices, the panel agreed.

17 June 2015, Brussels, Belgium

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