“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford
Merely coming together is the first step; however parties need to ensure they make the commitment to keep working together in order to achieve the common goal. In this comment we intend to answer the first question under partnerships.
* What contribution can the private sector and civil society make for working across sectors and building strong linkages between food and agriculture, social protection, employment, health, education and other key sectors?
With the other sections of commentary clearly highlighting the need for greater collaboration amongst the private sector, civil society and policy makers, it’s of concern and mutual interest for the discussions that proceed to highlight several key areas how these parties can find common grounds in partnering to foster some kind of growth in our economy. Recently the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva echoed the same sentiments at a high level meeting in Africa.1
Firstly, applying this to our country Guyana, the role of the local private sector body (The Private Sector Commission or PSC) should be taken into consideration. The PSC is the umbrella body that deals extensively in creating investment and sharing information to the firms that are members. Thus if organizations such as the FAO hold meetings with the commission to outline to their roles and the initiatives of the FAO in eradicating issues such as food security and improving nutrition they would have better knowledge and guidance in ways in which they can help in meeting these goals. Being more inclined to the pivotal role they play, the Private sector will be able to help create policies such that they themselves along with the civil society could be better off and achieve some kind of Pareto Efficiency.
Civil Society being NGOs, religious bodies and other substantial non-profit and non-governmental groups in society, can also benefit from meetings with the FAO that would inform them of the goals in mind. As Civil Society is usually closer to the average citizen they can better determine the root of the problem so an efficient solution can be found.
In terms of working across sectors to achieve better nutrition both private and civil society can help in building strong links across these sectors by setting targets for each sector that would complement the other sector and would all be geared towards the same goal. For instance, the private and civil society can work with policy makers to ensure that systems are put in place that would allow for both the quantity and quality of food production to be increased. Once this has been done it also important to educate citizens of the essentials of a balanced diet so they can choose their foods wisely and reduce risks of life threatening diseases. The healthcare section can help in informing citizens of wise nutritional choices. Though Guyana had halved our poverty level, there are still those who cannot afford to eat a balanced diet. Civil society can continue their numerous feeding programs and the private sector can create more employment where possible to help with this situation. This will help Guyana successfully reach its Goal 1 target of the MDG.
United Nations. UN News Centre. July 1, 2013. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45313&Cr=hunger&Cr1=food+se... (accessed September 25, 2013).
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Earlier FSN Forum ICN2 discussions: