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The interest of CFS is most welcome since linkages between SDGs 2 and 11 are key to the Sustainable Development Agenda. But it would be good to acknowledge and build upon the work carried out in this area, by FAO and other organisations, since at least the late 80s (e.g. FAO’s Committee on Agriculture 1989 Urbanization, food consumption patterns, and nutrition ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/esn/nutrition/urban/delisle_paper.pdf). A bibliography of FAO work in this area can be found on http://www.fao.org/fcit/fcit-publications/en/
The CFS secretariat may want to check the final draft of the SOFA Special Chapter on Urbanization - Linking Development across the Changing Landscape http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/FCIT/PDF/sofa.pdf (Drescher and Iaquinta 2002) which was prepared within the Priority Area for Interdisciplinary Action Food for Cities; and the 2003 report to CoAg of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Food for the Cities and in particular the strategic recommendations for MTP 2004-2009 http://www.fao.org/docrep/MEETING/006/Y8500e.HTM.
In 2011, the FAO Food for the Cities multi-disciplinary initiative published a position paper entitled Food, Agriculture and Cities - Challenges of food and nutrition security, agriculture and ecosystem management in an urbanizing world http://www.fao.org/3/a-au725e.pdf - signed by Alexander Mueller, then Assistant |Director General, sustainable Development - as background document for a CFS side-event http://www.fao.org/fcit/meetingevents/37th-cfs-food-for-cities-side-event/en/. This document could be seen as a good basis for an updated version five years later and the Secretariat may want to reconsider the initial decision to focus on post-2012 publications.
FAO’s Food and Nutrition Division (now Nutrition and Food Systems Division) has worked extensively on these issues, within its programme on Globalisation, Urbanisation and Nutrition Transition, see in particular FAO Nutrition Paper 83, Globalization of food systems in developing countries: impact on food security and nutrition http://www.fao.org/3/a-y5736e.pdf (2004). Given the present concern with obesity and diet-related diseases and the association of urbanisation, globalisation and changing lifestyles, it is recommended that the CFS paper be explicitly linked to the follow-up of ICN2.
Overall the draft as it stands has by and large adopted a classical supply-driven value chain approach. The Secretariat may want to focus more explicitly on food consumption and food systems, following on and linking to the work carried out by SOFA 2013 Food Systems for Better Nutrition; Word Food Day 2013 Healthy people depend on healthy food systems - Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition and the 2015 WFD event in Milan http://www.fao.org/world-food-day/wfd-at-milan-expo/en/; the Sustainable Food systems programme http://www.fao.org/ag/ags/sustainable-food-consumption-and-production/en/ and the 10 Year Programme on Sustainable Food Consumption and Production http://www.unep.org/10yfp/
And last but not least, specific attention should be given to indigenous people and their food systems.
So much for now. :-)
I have read with interest background paper and contributions and Liberation is certainly most welcome. But I believe we are yet again missing the link with sustainable diets and livelihoods. What is being grown and who is the consumer is central to the way natural resources are managed. And local populations are key in maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services.
Many contributions refer to the problems generated by the industrial agriculture model. This has been coming up in many arenas in the last decade: in health with the emergence of noncommunicable diseases, in the poverty debates, in the International year of family agriculture, etc. People from different wakes of life agree that we need sustainable food systems and ecological intensification is part of it. There is therefore a window of opportunity for increased synergy.
But the way institutions function does not allow this to happen. Complexity is a challenge and an opportunity. But the official speech is still about value chains, research institutions have a hard time moving away from their comfort zones, scientific expectations and methodologies, and of course the root cause are economic interests and funding.
Natural Resources Management, Health and Food Security need to engage in and be held accountable to systematic dialogue and joint action within a rights-based approach. This would be particularly timely in the wake of the Sustainable Development Summit and CoP21. The gap between environment and food security needs to be dealt with: it is presented as a tradeoff but it can be a win-win. The technical debate is of course essential, but we cannot detach it from the institutional and political context.
Way too late, but...
I facilitated a one and a half day session on household food security and nutrition during a summer school on sustainable mountain development at the end of June. Part of this was group work and one of the groups decided to work on a valley in the Peruvian Andes. Their diagnosis (which caught me by surprise) was that the local economy was undermined by the Conditional Cash Transfer programme: people would stop buying locally and spent their cash in the local supermarket (which was doing great :-)). So no good for local farmers (who may have to apply sooner or later to the programme) and no good for consumers (not sure shifting from local foods to supermarket food is necessarily the healthy choice).
This was clearly anecdotal. Has any research been carried out to look at the impact of social protection programmes on food practices and diets?
I have come across bee-keeping in the context of a participatory nutrition project in Somalia. Honey production and beekeeping was one of the livelihoods interventions identified by communities and local NGOs as a means to improve food security of families who had lost their livestock because of the combination of drought and conflict.
The project hired a Kenyan expert who visited the area, studied traditional honey production practices and identified three models of locally appropriate hives, one of which was retained by local beekeepers. Training for construction and operation was then provided. Honey production was multiplied by three by the end of the project.
This component was extremely successful for a variety of reasons:
- there is a high demand for honey from both the local market (for medical purposes) and the Gulf States
- honey is stable, can be sold all year and is easy to transport by bush taxi (the beekeepers sent a representative to sell the honey at a better price in the port of Bosasso)
- honey production is based on common property resources, which makes it an optimal coping mechanism and livelihood strategy for displaced people
- people learned to use wax and make candles which provided light at night “and smelled delicious”
- it was one of several synergistic interventions which revived the local economy.
For more information please refer to
I have read with a lot of interest the different contributions, learnt a lot and had the pleasure to come across old friends. But I wonder if innovation in agriculture (instead of a food system approach) was not too narrow an entry point. We must move beyond the classical supply-driven value chain/commodity approach and revisit production systems from the demand side; re-localize development efforts, support family agriculture and aim for resilient food systems which make the best of existing resources (including indigenous knowledge).
Local government – and in an increasingly urbanized world, cities – should take the lead and engage in sustainable territorial planning in consultation with all relevant actors, aiming at food security and environmental sustainability in both rural and urban areas, while protecting and creating decent jobs and fulfilling human rights. Economics are important but there are only one dimension; health staff, sociologists, agronomists, environmentalists and economists must join forces to address complexity and learn together from existing practice.
Food-based nutrition education (in particular cooking demonstrations) can lead to changes in household food production. The promotion of sustainable diets constitutes the logical entry point and goal for sustainable food systems and a long-term solution to malnutrition.
Summary of the online discussion
Addressing climate change on the one hand, and improving food security and nutrition on the other, are closely interlinked issues and would benefit from being dealt with simultaneously. But policy agendas and mechanisms for production, resource conservation and social programmes are presently disjointed and there is a gap between agricultural policies, health policies and climate finance. And by and large, consumers are not aware of the implications of their food choices on environment and livelihoods, and are considered as passive recipients or customers.
Conventional agriculture – which contributes to climate change - and the policies and institutions that underpin global food security are increasingly inadequate. Rather than n as a new challenge, climate change should probably be seen as an additional factor of uncertainty. The present model and understanding of development privilege economic considerations and consider neither management of landscapes and ecosystems nor socio-cultural dimensions.
There is a persistent institutional bias of food and agriculture policies and practices towards specific commodities and species and international trade. Priority has been given in the last decades to cost effectiveness, resulting in withdrawing investment from remote and upland areas. And corruption remains an obstacle to sustainable development.
It is time to shift policy emphasis towards the promotion of sustainable and resilient food systems, and to discourage production practices which deplete and contaminate water supply, generate green house gas emissions, destroy native ecosystems and undermine health and nutrition. It is urgent that the public sector adopts a rights-based approach, reinvests in smart advisory services and focuses on smallholders. Support to family agriculture and in particular women, as well as the promotion of traditional foods and species and the prevention of waste, will contribute to more healthy ecosystems and populations.
Such a shift will generate a series of institutional challenges. Addressing climate change, food security and nutrition in an integrated manner will require a multi-disciplinary approach and a dynamic process of innovation that engages all actors. Policy makers, civil society, private sector, development partners and researchers must work together to increase local effectiveness and build leadership, cooperation and coordination at community/neighbourhood level. Inter-disciplinary teams, participatory planning multi-sectoral information and impact assessment systems will be needed (e.g. integrated watershed management) and particular attention should be given to ensure that policy setting processes at all levels are free from commercial influence.
Successful solutions to existing problems are present in rural areas and could/should be adapted and spread to other contexts. Multi-disciplinary research teams should therefore concentrate on generating practice-based evidence. Collaboration between local health and extension workers has proven essential to successful community-level strategies.
It is time to think beyond climate smart agriculture and to promote sustainable food systems which include the management of common property resources. Sustainable agriculture must nurture healthy ecosystems and in areas affected by climate change, it is time to shift away from monoculture to local-specific, low-cost low risk agro-ecological systems, agroforestry and integrated farming. It is important to revive and propagate indigenous varieties which are drought and disease resistant and contribute to healthier diets.
The production of organic food should be encouraged - in particular through more affordable certification processes - and intensive animal production discouraged, with a view to improve diets, reduce Green House Gas emissions, water use and contamination, and manage local biodiversity. Education in locally-relevant agricultural practices which increase carbon sequestration, reduce GHG emissions, improve productivity and produce healthy foods in season should be a priority
Local institutions, producers and civil society must be jointly engaged in and responsible for the management of water resources and protection and conservation of environmental services (forests and aquatic ecosystems). Efforts should be made to substitute wood and fossil fuels, and renewable sources such as solar and bio energy be used to produce, process and prepare foods and reduce waste.
Priority should be given to reviving local and regional agricultural markets. Markets are where consumers come and buy food from producers they know and trust, but are also essential to social exchanges, community cohesion and local culture.
Processors and retailers should be encouraged to align their practices with public health and environmental goals. Trade policies and subsidies all along the food chain (from production to distribution) should be revisited and accountability of corporations to sustainability and human rights ensured.
And last but not least, consumers have a key role to play in the issues of climate change, food security and nutrition. Awareness-raising and training of local institutions will be key for the promotion of sustainable diets which are healthy and safe, but also compatible with sustainable environmental management and social equity and decent jobs.
It is essential that food security remains on the agenda of COP21 and that relevant recommendations of the 2nd International conference of Nutrition be integrated.
As this consultation is reaching its end, let me forget my role of facilitator and add my own grain of salt (this contribution will of course not be reflected in the summary unless you believe it brings something to the very lively debate of these last weeks).
There seems to be an agreement 1/ that the poorest are likely to be most affected by climate change and 2/ that climate change affects food security and nutrition. I would therefore suggest that we provide specific attention to households affected by malnutrition and/or social cases in climate change affected areas/hotspots: they are in my view the emerging tip of the iceberg. If we understand the local-specific causes of either malnutrition or destitution, we should gain a better understanding of the pathways through which climate change is concretely affecting food security and nutrition in that areas and the coping strategies adopted, and therefore gain insights on possible prevention, mitigation and adaptation measures and strategies.
I would like to say goodbye to all of you, it was great to hear and learn from you, and to renew contacts with old friends and colleagues. As we move towards CoP21, I hope some of the issues you brought up will feed into the debate in the coming months. I will do my best to summarize your inputs and come up with a document that all of us can live with and use where and when appropriate.
Thanks for providing us with an opportunity for contributing to the formulation of the 10YFP.
1/ I am presently part of a technical team supporting the Municipality of Milano engaged in the development of urban food policy pacts (see http://www.cibomilano.org/food-policy-pact/). It is clear to us that in an increasingly urbanised world, cities play a major role in their respective territories and should play a lead role in, and be accountable for, sustainable local development. This initiative which involves to date 36 cities in both the global North and the global South is in my view very relevant to the formulation of the 10YFP. Please find attached the stock taking form (in French, sorry I realized afterwards there was another version).
2/ You may want to consider bringing out more explicitely the need (additional objective or rewording of objective 3) to gain a better understanding of traditional food systems in representative ecosystems and related indigenous practices with a view to generate practice-based evidence, contribute to peer learning at local level, feed into relevant policies and assess the impact (ensure accountability) of agricultural programmes and investment.
3/ You may be interested to explore the possibility of engaging explicitely the City-Region Food systems platform http://www.cityregionfoodsystems.org in the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee (MAC). let me know if I can help.
I hope some of you had a well-deserved break, but many have been working hard. Let me try and summarize some of the key issues that have emerged in the last days:
- Climate change must be seen in the context of – and as an addition to – major changes in farming systems and lifestyles. “Modern” agriculture techniques have focussed on use of fertiliser and weed/pest control which have increased production costs. Schooling of children and migration in search of urban employment has led to increased labour constraints in family farms, which does not allow any longer risk-spreading (e.g. combining animal and plant production) and delivery of environmental services (for both sustainable management and mitigation of natural disasters).
- The narrow approach often taken to prevent “natural disasters” such as floods, has had a negative impact on the food and agriculture system. It is important to adapt to nature and not fight it. Societies have a long record of managing the impacts of weather- and climate-related events and there may be a lot to learn from “community resilient traditional systems and practices”. It is important to revive indigenous varieties for climate change mitigation and nutritional security.
- Sustainable agriculture must nurture healthy ecosystems and support the sustainable management of land, water and natural resources. It must meet the needs of present and future generations for its products and services, while ensuring profitability, environmental health and social and economic equity. It must be adapted to local conditions and ensure decent livelihoods. The focus must be on local food chains, diversification of household production and direct sale to the consumer, with a view to ensure family consumption first and local food availability, while reducing carbon footprints. The complementarity of wild foods for food security and nutrition can be very important, and help to mitigate the impact of climate change.
- Agro-ecology can contribute to preventing and adapting to climate change, and can benefit all farmers from large scale commercial agriculture to subsistence farmers. It is urgent to upscale communication, extension, education (from primary school to university). Peer-learning starting from local experience should be given priority. A wealth of material has already been developed.
- More on governance Policy makers must be more aware of local people's needs and constraints and ensure coherence of messages. The policy agenda and mechanisms for production and resource conservation are mostly disjointed. There is no clear integrated management of ecosystems and/or landscapes. The current architecture of public service delivers various government schemes with people as mere recipients and inadvertently weakens rural communities which are essential to sustainability. Policies and financial resources in both developed and developing countries should focus on building leadership, cooperation and coordination and developing collaborative governance systems at all levels which can help navigate trade offs. Support to sustainable agriculture should go hand in hand with appropriate nutrition interventions and social protection.
Looking forward to the next round of contributions. Have a nice week.
Thanks for your contributions which really set the scene. Thanks for those who provided documents and weblinks, they will be included in the report of the consultation.
Let me try and summarize where we are:
- many of you referred to governance issues. Climate change constitutes an additional factor of uncertainty impacting on food security and nutrition. Insufficient attention has been given to smallholders by national and international institutions so far. Strategies must be local-specific. The public sector has a key role to play since the private sector cannot be expected to assist smallholders in remote areas.
- a set of comments refer to agricultural production systems: priority should be given to crops which can limit GHG emissions; it is important to shift away from a commodity approach to promote diversity and agroforestry; organic agriculture (for both health and environment) should be encouraged and made more affordable. Waste associated with international food trade should be addressed.
- it is essential to protect natural resources (common lands, forests and water bodies), replant trees, and promote solar cooking
- it is urgent to bridge the gap between agriculture and climate change policies and funding
I realize that I cannot do justice to the wealth in your comments in a few paragraphs and I have deliberately chosen issues to stimulate exchanges. Did I get it right and did I forget anything major?
It would really be nice to hear more about nutrition :-)
I hope many of you will join the webinar next Tuesday (31/3).
So much for now.