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Contributions for Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments

CFS Private Sector Mechanism ,
25.02.2014
FSN Forum

Dear Chair,

On behalf of the Private Sector Mechanism I wish to present some specific suggestions as the debate draws to a close:

  1. Objective, nature and scope: In order to frame the discussion more clearly, there could be some language on the breadth and diversity of the agricultural systems that the principles are targeting.
  2. Principle 3: How can we qualify this language to make climate mitigation and/or mitigation achievable and successful for individual investments? The private sector believes that investments should take place in particular in: sustainable agricultural practices; rural infrastructure, storage capacities and related technologies; research and development on sustainable agricultural technologies; developing strong agricultural cooperatives and value chains; reducing post-harvest and other food losses and waste throughout the food supply chain.
  3. Principle 4: Farmers are by nature innovators and early adopters of agricultural technology. Does this principle embody far enough the concepts of modern farming and innovation, at the same time as recognising valuable traditional knowledge?

Best wishes,

Katy Lee, International Agri-Food Network

IATP and IDEX , United States of America
24.02.2014
FSN Forum

Comments by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Grassroots International and International Development Exchange (IDEX)

Pradip Dey Indian Society of Soil Salinity and Water Quality, India
24.02.2014
Pradip Dey

Dear Sir,

Good day!

Sorry for being late due to back to back Office tour. Kindly find below my feedback for needful at your esteem end please.

Investments in agriculture (whether foreign or domestic, private or public) must consider varying local circumstances and proceed with extra caution in ecologically sensitive or biodiverse areas. Something which of course can be done by genuinely involving agro-ecological experts and local populations with traditional/local knowledge about their surroundings – which of course is just one of many rationales for promoting participation and consultation. The issues like environmental, gender,  human resources development etc. are indeed crosscutting, which suggest that there could be positive synergies if all RAI Principles are implemented together.

With warm regards,

Sincerely yours,

Pradip Dey

Greenpeace International ,
21.02.2014
FSN Forum

The RAI principles should not be adopted in their present state. A significant re-write is needed to ensure that investments in agriculture protect, sustain and restore the diversity of life on earth, respecting ecological limits; support equity and food sovereignty to ensure healthy food is grown to meet fundamental human needs; and ensure control over food and farming rests with local communities. And, although we welcome the opportunity of this e-consultation, these comments should be considered in addition to, but not in lieu of, the combined civil society comments submitted through the civil society mechanism (CSM).

The voluntary nature of these Principles is a fundamental weakness in Greenpeace´s assessment. Greenpeace believes in globally enforceable rules for global players. In our view, therefore, the RAI principles should be legally-binding to ensure that agriculture investments not only protect farmers, consumers, communities, and the environment, but actually lead to food security, poverty reduction, and enhanced ecological function.

In a constructive spirit, we do suggest the following concrete proposals to improve the RAI principles.

Reworking style and structure

The overall framing of the document needs to be changed. Despite mentioning other stakeholders at the beginning, the language throughout the document supports the perspective and interests of large-scale, external private sector investments. It focuses excessively on increasing productivity, promoting market mechanisms, and integrating small-scale producers into value chains. Yet, it is a globally accepted reality that food security is not an issue of quantity of production but food access for poor people. And, market mechanisms are largely designed to support corporations over small-scale producers, promoting purchase of polluting chemical inputs instead of supporting ecological farming approaches that sustain the natural resource base and build resilience to climate change and other external shocks. Value chain linkages generally only involve the top 2-10 % of small-scale producers who have the assets and access to capital, information, and infrastructure.i  Furthermore, the framing of the current draft protects the interests of large-scale investors with ‘hard law’ international agreements while small-scale producers, workers, and the environment are only protected by ‘soft law’ voluntary norms.

The draft needs clarification and specificity. The draft is quite vague and confusing as it stands. The principles are overly simplistic and most of the detail is written outside of the principles themselves, leaving the door open to widely divergent interpretations. In its present state, almost any investment could be finessed to seem to adhere to these principles. For example, in Principle 1 it reads, “depending on context and in the presence of persistent food insecurity create an enabling environment for increased food production.” Critical questions arise from this sentence: create an enabling environment for whom? To grow what? In what way? For what markets? These are all critical questions with underlying issues impacting environmental sustainability and imbalance of power between stakeholders. Another example comes in the application section of Principle 3 where it reads, “strengthening capacity building for proper adaptation and uptake of best practices.” Again, critical questions are raised: building capacity of whom? Who defines what qualifies as ‘proper’ and ‘best practices’? Throughout the document these vague references need to be clarified. Also in Principle 3, “Achieving food security with simultaneous environmental benefits……requires a focus on: the use of traditional and scientific knowledge…appropriate technologies and practices”. Who gets to decide what is appropriate? For some people Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) constitute an ‘appropriate technology”; for others, including Greenpeace, GMOs undermine food security and entrench poverty. These are not the only vague references, but a representative sample of the clarifications needed to make the document valuable in achieving its stated aims.

The stakeholder groups and concurrent roles and responsibilities must be reworked. There is overlap in the stakeholder groups and distinctions between the groupings are unclear. Public and private investments must be clearly differentiated throughout the document, including in the layout of roles and responsibilities. In addition, the private sector as written is also too large and divergent of a group. Most importantly, small-scale producers should be considered separately from (multinational) corporations. Creating an ‘enabling environment’ for responsible small-scale agriculture investments is completely different from creating an ‘enabling environment’ for responsible corporate investments, particularly those of TransNationalCompanies (TNCs).ii Different private sector actors along the food chain should also be split out (input industry, traders, processors, retailers, financial sector) as they have different roles and influence on agriculture investments. Furthermore, the stakeholder groups are written to recognize only small-scale food producers/processors in developing countries; yet, small-scale producers exist and deserve support in developed countries as well.

The document needs to be strengthened. Fundamentally, if an investment is deemed likely to have negative impacts on the environment and/or local communities even with remedial actions, implementation is unacceptable. Social and environmental impact assessments must be required prior to investment (excepting investments by small-scale producers on their own farms). Accountability and transparency are not only important in review mechanisms, but should be evident throughout the document. For example, in the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders for Part I, the responsibility of monitoring and evaluating the application of the principles is seen as the responsibility of civil society, when it should be the responsibility of host governments and donor governments as the elected bodies responsible for monitoring and mitigating the impact of investments on their populace.

Overall, the language needs to be more assertive. Language throughout the document, even when considering human rights, is weak. For example, words such as ‘request’, ‘encourage’, or ‘recommend’ should be changed to ‘require’ or ‘obligate’.

Filling major gaps

Explicitly include agroecology in Principle 3, with specific recommendations on promoting the scale up of uptake of ecological farmingiii approaches in the objectives, application, and roles and responsibility sections. Specific mention of soils, water, and biodiversity are needed. As the CFS Global Strategic Framework states, agroecology is critical “in improving agricultural sustainability as well as the incomes of food producers and their resilience in the face of climate change.”

Industrial agriculture has expanded at the expense of forests, grasslands, wetlands, coastal and marine areas; the conversion of natural ecosystems for large scale monocultures has picked up speed in recent years due to the increased demand for animal feed and bioenergy, creating competing land use pressures. Use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers is still increasing rapidly in developing countries and in North America with GMO cultivation, despite profound impacts on natural ecosystems and the health of farmers by the use of agrochemicals.iv Genetic engineering technologies undermine resilience, by creating farmer dependence on seeds and other inputs to a few global corporations, and threaten the diversity of our crop plants and the agro-ecosystems we depend on to meet future food needs. In a recent studyv, even KPMG ranked the food sector as the worst of all sectors in two respects: 1) it faces the “highest risk from sustainability mega forces” and it is the “least ready” to respond to them, 2) it is the worst actor in terms of care and handling of the environment. Ecological farming, based on biodiversity and utilizing resources that are affordable and locally available, can increase production and improve livelihoods where it is most needed, and without creating reliance on external actors, while protecting the natural resource base needed to sustain life on Earth.vi

Ecological farming is the most promising, realistic and economically feasible solution to the current destructive agriculture model. It is also ideally suited for poor and small-scale farmers, as they require minimal or no external inputs, use locally and naturally available materials to produce high-quality products, and encourage a whole systemic approach to farming that is more diverse and more resilient to adverse weather conditions, pests and diseases (UNEP and UNCTAD, 2008).

Additionally in Principle 3, a specific bullet point is needed to address prevention of environmental pollution, adverse affects on ecosystem services, and harm on farmers, farmworkers, and communities through contamination.

Revise the way research and development is approached. Principle 3 needs a bullet in the ‘application’ section about revamping extension and research and development to focus support on uptake of agroecology, gender equity, and building resilience of small-scale farmers to climate and economic shocks. This re-focusing on agroecology should be included in the

‘Roles and Responsibilities’ section of Part I for each of the stakeholders (particularly states, research institutions, intergovernmental organizations, and donors and foundations) and their relative role in reaching that overarching goal. Farmers are not simply passive recipients of technologies designed in a lab; all over the world they are already adapting to climate change with their own innovations.  Thus, research and development should start with farmers’ own knowledge and innovations that are adapted to their local agro-climatic zone, and be an iterative process done in partnership between farmers and scientists. Some studies have shown that if more agricultural research were focused on sustainable methods, yield increases would rise.vii

Include farmers’ right to save seeds. Responsible investments must have agricultural biodiversity conservation and development as a cornerstone. In particular, investments should support seed systems that are resilient to climate change; strengthen farmers’ management of their seeds (allowing for seed saving, using, selling, exchanging and developing); secure seed supply (quality and quantity) in the community, ensuring that the community has the ability to replenish seeds in times of crisis; and is built around conservation of agriculture biodiversity and ecosystem intra-specific and inter-specific diversity and landscapes.

Explicitly include references to key environmental principles and agreements. Existing environmental regulations and other relevant policies have failed to adequately protect human health and the global environment. Therefore, corporations, government entities, organizations, communities, and scientists must act in accordance with the precautionary principle and polluter pays principle in agriculture investments. Compliance with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety must also be included in the document, as it is an important step towards biosafety and the protection of biodiversity. Furthermore, in order to provide for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) must be referenced in the principles and countries should be encouraged to translate the ITPGRFA into national policy and legislation.

Explicitly delineate critical investment roles of the state: investment in public goods, policy frameworks that balance power among stakeholders, regulation of investments, and enforcement to uphold national sovereignty and democracy. It is the job of governments to ensure food security and long-term sustainability; history has shown us that profit-driven agencies and the market cannot be relied upon to serve the public good in the agriculture sector.viii The private sector does not have the mandate to deliver public services to small-scale producers, particularly the marginalized. Nor will they encourage uptake of ecological farming practices that rebuild soil health, water quality, and biodiversity. Thus, critical public investments - including agriculture services such as extension, R&D, storage, and access to information services (i.e. climate and price information) but also related services such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure - cannot and should not be replaced by private investments.

At the moment, the draft only suggests policy ‘carrots’ but not the equally necessary ‘sticks’. The state is responsible for holding other actors accountable for their investment impacts. Thus, the draft must state that adequate regulatory frameworks should be put in place to first ensure that investments have no negative impacts on farmers, farmworkers, communities or the environment; and then go one step further to ensure that investments have positive impacts towards achieving the goal of food security while building the natural resource base.

Currently the draft contains nothing on regulating public private partnerships and contract farming, although these forms of investment are on the rise. At a minimum, states must ensure that PPPs do not undermine ecological sustainability, food security (e.g. by growing monocultures of crops that drain aquifers) or farmer/community rights. Further, any public expenditure should be used directly to support ecological farming and the improving the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and building their resilience to climate and economic shocks.

And, while risk management is mentioned, there is no recognition in the document of varying risk assumption by different stakeholders and mechanisms to address that. Usually, lead companies that have market advantage take much of the profit while forcing the small-scale producer to take on much of the risk. The state’s role is to protect producers, particularly small- scale producers, from being forced to take on the lion’s share of the risk.

Fundamentally, the document needs to address the role of the state in balancing power differences between various actors. Current market dynamics and government policies favor large-scale industrial production over ecologically-sustainable small-scale production. The document must be clear that specific policies are required to level the playing field. Small-scale farmers cannot economically compete with large-scale farmers and companies. Governments have the responsibility to set in place policies that at the very least uphold the rights of vulnerable groups, such as small-scale farmers and women, and protect the environment. In addition to policies that rebalance power, small-scale farmers and civil society must be facilitated to participate in all decision-making processes that affect them and their livelihoods.

The role of donors, multilaterals and research institutions must be elaborated. Part I contains no role for donors and foundations; this is a major oversight. They are major investors in agriculture and have the power to influence the direction of investments, not just their own, but those of states and farmers as well. This power must not be wielded lightly and requires agreement by all CFS stakeholders on specific roles and responsibilities. They are often playing the ‘technical advisory’ role in large PPPs and are encouraging their propagation. They are also often driving the policy changes envisioned to create an ‘enabling environment’. Thus, their role is central and should be clearly outlined to be in support of the uptake of agroecology, gender equity, and building resilience of small-scale farmers to climate and economic shocks.

Similarly, the role for multilaterals and research institutions is not well laid out. Multilaterals like the World Bank, AfDB, CGIAR, FAO, etc. have an increasingly important responsibility to steer investments (particularly R&D and extension) towards small-scale ecological agriculture.

Adjust Principle 5 on policy coherence to include government responsibility to ensure investor conduct is consistent with environmental regulations and impact mitigation requirements. The way policy coherence is framed in the draft is solely to improve the ease of external investment. However, policy coherence is important for avoiding waste of public spending and ensuring that all investments and policies that impact agriculture and food systems, including non-agriculture policies, support the principles in this document.

Include two new sections on implementation and monitoring/evaluation of the principles. The current principles are not able to provide practical guidance to stakeholders. These sections should recognize the leading role of the CFS, specific metrics/indicators, and established budget to carry implementation forward. We support the suggested mechanism of Oxfam International in their comments.

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                                                                                                                                                   i  Vorley,    Bill,    Lorenzo    Cotula,    Man-­‐kwun    Chan,    Tipping    the    Balance:    Policies    to    shape    agricultural    investments    and  markets  in    favor    of    smal-­‐scale    farmers.    December    2012.    

ii  Ibid.    

iii  Ecological    farming    is    a    food    and    agriculture    system    that    follows    the    principles    of    agroecology    and    that    is    ecologically,    

economically,  socially    and    culturally    sound    and    holistic    in    its   approach.    

iv  Between    one    and    three    agricultural    workers    per    every    100    worldwide    suffer    from    acute    pesticide    poisoning,    and adolescents  are    often    the    victims:    http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/pestipoison/en/    

v  KPMG    report    "Expected    the    unexpected    -­‐    building    business    value    in    the    changing    world":    http://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/building-business-value-exec- summary.pdf

vi  UNEP    &    UNCTAD    2008.    Organic    Agriculture    and    Food    Security    in    Africa.    United    Nations,    New    York    and    Geneva    

http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/ditcted200715_en.pdf.;    De    Schutter,    O.    2010.    Agroecology    and    the    right    to    food.    UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/officialreports/20110308_a-­‐hrc-­‐16-­‐

49_agroecology_en.pdf;    Bommarco,    R.,    Kleijn,    D.    &    Potts,    S.    G.    2012.    Ecological    intensification:    harnessing    ecosystem    services    for    food    security.    Trends in Ecology & Evolution,  28,    230-­‐238.;    Tittonell,    P.    2013.    Farming    Systems    Ecology.    Towards    ecological    intensification    of    world    agriculture.    Inaugural lecture upon taking up the position of Chair in Farming Systems Ecology at Wageningen University on 16 May 2013. http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/show/Feeding-­‐the-­‐world-­‐ population-­‐sustainably-­‐and-­‐efficiently-­‐with-­‐ecologically-­‐intensive-­‐agriculture.htm    

vii  Badgely,    C.    et    al,    Organic    Agriculture    and    the    Global    Food    Supply’    Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems,    22    (2), 2007.  

viii  House    of    Commons    International    Development    Committee.    DFID’s    Agriculture    Policy:    Seventh    Report    of    Session    2003-­‐04.  15    September    2004.    

Ms. Picard Francine IISD, France
20.02.2014
Picard

Dear CFS-RAI team,

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Committee on World Food Security’s e-consultation for the zero draft of the principles for responsible agricultural investment (CFS-RAI). Please see our input  at this link: http://www.iisd.org/investment/research/agriculture.aspx
 

Best regards

 

Picard Francine Mukazi
Investment and Sustainable Development Program/International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Ms. Helen Medina US Council for International Business, United States of America
20.02.2014
Helen

With regards to RAI as they are being developed at the moment, the US Council for International Business (USCIB) has the following comments:

The private sector has concerns with regards to monitoring and evaluation as well as roles and responsibilities. I would like to stress that it is important to create an environment that encourages investment. Otherwise, the private sector actors that you are trying to work with may be deterred from the RAI principles. We heard this not only during the US meeting but several Canadians have also expressed this.

Furthermore, we have some questions about the role of monitoring and evaluation. Who should do what  and to whom should be clarified and be made more explicit.  I understand that at the moment, there is no method for monitoring and implementing the roles defined. What entity will keep an eye on the companies and countries that commit to implementing the principles?

Finally I would like to highlight again that in general the roles and responsibilities should not be too prescriptive as it is a voluntary document.

Thank you in advance for accepting my comments and for providing me the opportunity to comment. I look forward to working with you as the RAI Principles develop.

Helen Medina,

Senior Director, Product Policy and Innovation

USCIB

Aksel Naerstad Development Fund, Norway
20.02.2014
Aksel Naerstad

Principples for responsible investments in agriculture.

Comments from Aksel Naerstad, coordinator of the More and Better Network (www.moreandbetter.org)  and Senior policy advisor in the Development Fund (www.utviklingsfondet.no)

These comments are made with inputs from discussions with members and nonmembers of the More and Better Network. The do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the network.  Many important points are raised in the regional consultations and by inputs from organizations and individuals. The comments and inputs below will only highlight a few important issues, not repeat most of the comments and inputs from others which we agree in.

Some general comments

It is very important to develop and get agreements on principles for responsible investments in agriculture. The principles should aim at

Increasing responsible investments in  sustainable agriculture, with the primary focus to support the majority of the farmers and those who produce most of the food in the world – the small scale food producers.

Guide all kind of investors in agriculture – farmers, governments, institutions and private investors – so they will invest in responsible ways  in sustainable agricultural production.

 Being a tool for governments, institutions and civil society to stop irresponsible investments, including investments in landgrabbing and in non-sustainable agriculture.

 

The principles should focus on the small scale food producers, with a special focus on the role and needs for women.

There should be underlined the need for clear public policies and actions for small scale farmers to enable them to invest in agroecological and other forms of sustainable food production.

Agricultural production need to be sustainable. Investments in non-sustainable agriculture are not responsible investments. The principles need to be clear on this.

Human rights need to be the base for the principles.  Food sovereignty which includes the right to food and farmers’ rights should be supported and promoted by the principles.

‘Do not harm’-approach should be included in the principples.

 

1. Are all relevant issues and areas related to fostering responsible agricultural investments adequately addressed in the Zero Draft? If not, what should be changed?

There is a need to clearly define  responsible investments.

The central role of small scale food producers should be more clear in the principples.

There should be a clear distinction between different kind of investors – farmers, governments, foundations, private investors …

The draft focus too much on increasing production. Enough food is produced today to nourish more than 10 billion people. There is a need to focus in losses and waist, food used for other purposes (biofuel etc) and on the quality and nutrition of food – not only on the quantity.

The multifunctioning role of agriculture should be underlined. Food production is the core, but agriculture plays a major role also when it comes to economy, employment, environment, health and culture.

 

2. Are the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders clearly defined in order to facilitate implementation of the principles? If not, what should be changed?

The role of women should be highlighted more.

Local markets should be highlighted as the most important, then national markets. International markets play an important role in many contexts, but  less than 15 % of the food cross borders.

There is a need to distinct more clear between different actors.

The role of governments to provide public policies en create an enabling environment  for sustainable and responsible investments with a focus on the need of small scale food producers should be underlined.

It might be good to make a reference to the CFS report and decisions on small scale farmers and investments.

The role and responsibilities of governments to stop landgrabbing and investments in unsustainable agriculture should be clearly spelt out.

 

3. Does the Zero Draft achieve the desired outcome to promote investments in agriculture that contributes to food security and supports the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security? If not, what should be changed?

The different roles and responsibilities of different actors should be more clearly outlined.

There should be clearly stated that sustainability and resilience of agricultural production systems is a clear goal and guidelines  for responsible investments.

A clear emphasis should be put on the importance of investments in agroecological and other forms of sustainable agriculture.

 

4. The principles are intended to provide practical guidance to stakeholders; therefore:

  • Are the current structure and language used clear and accessible for all relevant stakeholders to apply?

The document will be more clear and accessible for all relevant stakeholders to apple if the the proposals and recommendations above are included in the principles.

  • What steps need to be taken for the CFS-RAI principles to be used and implemented by different stakeholders after endorsement by CFS?

Inclusive national processes should be encouraged in all countries to implement the principles and to monitor how they are being implemented. 

Government should regularly report to CFS on how the principles are implemented.

International evaluation of the principles and the implementation should take place with participation of all stakeholders  every 3-5 years – and  whenever needed.

 

Aksel Naerstad

Senior policy adviser, The Development Fund, Norway (www.utviklingsfondet.no)

International coordinator of the More and Better Network (www.moreandbetter.org)

E-mail: aksel@utviklingsfondet.no

Mobile phone: +47 48 25 82 85

Phone office: +47 23 10 96 00 / 23 10 95 91,

Fax: +47 23 10 96 01

Skype: akselnaerstad

Postal address: Mariboes gate 8,N- 0183 Oslo, Norway,

 

Ms. Gitte Dyrhagen Husager DanChurchAid, Denmark
20.02.2014
Gitte Dyrhagen

This contribution is submitted on behalf of DanChurchAid (DCA); a development NGO working on the right to food with the overall goal to increase access to sustainable food and adequate nutrition for rights-holders.

In response to the overall questions on the Zero Draft of the CFS-RAI principles, DCA would like to underline the following points:

1)      Relevance of issues and areas:

DCA welcomes the fact that the right to adequate food is considered a founding base of principles, as mentioned in Principle 1. States’ obligation to protect, respect and fulfill the right to adequate food should continue to be at the core of the principles. In accordance with the VGGT, a key objective of the RAI should be the prevention of land grabbing. The text should therefore include specific wording on the obligations and responsibility of duty bearers, including business enterprises, to prevent violations on the right to adequate food and to prevent illegal land acquisitions. The set of minimum principles and measures on large-scale land acquisitions, formulated by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, may provide some useful language in this regard.

Under Principle 3 (Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change), it should be added that “Responsible investments in agriculture and food systems: respect the criteria and safeguards for social and environmental responsibilities, in accordance with international standards and frameworks.” Furthermore, a new bullet point should be added under “Application” stating the following:

o   Investments in low carbon development, energy efficiency, and renewable energy solutions, should be favored and encouraged

o   The effects of climate change on investments should always be considered.

o   Investments in fossil fuels, and fossil based technologies, should be avoided and phased out

2)      Roles and responsibilities:

DCA recommends that the principles recognize that investments must comply with international standards, require open dialogue with those affected (based on principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent) and adhere to the Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Land Tenure and monitor its implementation.

The corporate responsibility to protect human rights for business enterprises, as stipulated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, should be explicitly mentioned in the principles. This should apply to effects which are both upstream (production) and downstream (sale). Under “Investors” in “Roles and Responsibilities for Part 1”, investors should be called to: “respect the corporate responsibility to protect human rights and to exercise due diligence” in accordance with this framework.

3)      Desired outcome:

For the RAI to be responsible and sustainable, the principles for need to meet the overarching objectives of poverty eradication, human rights protection, elimination of inequalities, gender equity and environmental sustainability.

4)      Implementation/information sharing:

While many of the existing frameworks are voluntary and non-binding in nature, including the VGGT, the RAI should acknowledge the obligations that States have to protect, respect and fulfill the binding human rights standards enshrined in international treaties, which they are signatory to (including the right to adequate food).

For the principles and existing frameworks to be used and implemented, they first of all need to be known. An analysis of the EDFI or DFI websites showed that there appeared to be no mentioning of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Land Tenure (APRODEV study 2013:  http://aprodev.eu/files/Trade/aprodev_policy_brief_dfi_and_landgrabs_final_may2013.pdf)

 

Lalita Bhattacharjee FAO, Bangladesh
20.02.2014
Lalita

Background and rationale

Poor diet affects the poor, middle class and the rich alike. To this end, one of the goals of responsible agriculture investments is  producing healthy foods that contributes to sustainable diets and health of individuals, households and the community at large. One of the keys to achieving this is a policy environment in which nutrition is better understood and valued.  

Objective, nature and scope

  • The principles would also need to recognize the role of updated, science- based dietary guidelines that are contextually appropriate and that need to be widely promoted for the renewed attention of policy makers, programmers, private sector, media and the consumers.
  • This is one of the essential pre requisites to enhance the supply and demand for good food choices from what is locally available and accessible. 
  • To this end, dietary assessment including ‘total diet studies’ can help influence food policy, while nutrition education using the results of these studies can stimulate a demand for judicious food choices. 

Food Security and Nutrition and the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security: Principle 1

  • The objectives are well outlined. In addition to improving access to and availability of sufficient, safe and nutritious foods…. there is a need for an explicit focus on improving the diets and nutritional status of young children (6 to 23 months of age), adolescent girls and women in addition to household members and communities on the whole.
  • Applications would need to also encompasses technical principles such as knowledge, skills, technology and confidence at the farmer’s levels to produce/process foods and reach out to markets; awareness and ability to understand how nutrition-linked investment can have substantial health and financial returns at the trader’s levels; and behavior change strategies for improving food and nutrition on a sustainable basis at the consumer levels.
  • Scientific documentation and nutrient analysis of indigenous and underutilized foods, seldom used parts of plants and functional foods are warranted. 

Economic and social issues: Principle 2

  • A renewed responsibility is needed among agricultural planners and policy makers to strike a balance between nutrition-linked value chains and an enabling environment for incentives in agriculture investments.  
  • Improved market structures in many of the fast developing countries are changing the way in which people access food.  Some of the nutritious crops (millets, whole grains), legumes, horticulture produce, small fish species and beneficial indigenous foods that used to feature in traditional dietaries, are now losing their place in markets in favor of some few and largely produced/ processed foods that are possibly more affordable but potentially less healthy. This is impacting on the diversity and nutritional quality of what is purchased, processed and consumed.
  • Agriculture investments from private and public sectors can therefore play a more significant role in enhancing a nutritious food supply in the market, which should be initiated right from primary production across the whole chain.
  • Investments should explicitly address healthy eating habits among children and adults; create access and demand for nutrient/micronutrient-rich local foods, increase vegetable and fruit intake, promote safe and environmentally friendly produce and packaging, nutrition education and enable better nutrient returns for the money spent.   

Cultural Issues: Principle 4

  • Investments should also encompass storage and conservation of seed banks, strengthening/building upon appropriate processing technologies, local small livestock breeds, small fish species and indigenous food systems unique to agro ecological and cultural contexts
  • Farmers, notably women farmers or women farmer groups should be mobilized as part of mainstream institutional arrangements and mechanisms for both income and nutrition relevant ventures
  • Consideration should be given to household allocation of resources, capital, knowledge, local agricultural technologies and time.  

Policy Coherence and Sector Development: Principle 5

  • Policy capacity strengthening would be a foremost priority that needs sustained attention. 
  • Policy principles and tools that reinforce the nutrition mandate of food and agriculture sectors, bridge the interface with health sectors, prioritize nutrition sensitive investments[1] with coordinated institutional arrangements for analysis and monitoring policy implementation[2] will need to be developed and elaborated according to country contexts. 
  • This should in turn serve to mobilize and enhance commitment for funding and resource allocation for agriculture investments from governments, development partners and the private sector so as to impact nutrition improvement on a truly sustainable basis.

Lalita Bhattacharjee, Nutritionist, National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bangladesh.


[1] Bangladesh Country Investment Plan for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition (2010 -2015)

[2] National Food Policy Plan of Action and Country Investment Plan, Monitoring Report 2013, FPMU, Ministry of Food. 

 

Ms. Giulia` Bondi CIDSE, Belgium
19.02.2014
Giulia`

To whom it may concern,

CIDSE, the international alliance of Catholic development agencies (http://www.cidse.org) hereby submits its inputs to the consultation on the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments (RAI). Please find the document attached (pdf).

Thanks for acknowledging receipt of this email.

We remain at your disposal for any further information,

Kind Regards,

Giulia Bondi 

Advocacy Assistant
Climate Justice and Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Trade