What do you see as the key lessons learned during the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Framework (1990-2015), in particular in relation to the MDGs of relevance to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition?
What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?
The key lesson learned during the current MDG framework was that there are only two things that are important: people and the environment. Nations should NOT focus on “building their economies” or “generating economic growth”. That path has been tried, and it has failed.
If the ultimate goal of society is to improve the well-being of all humans on our planet so that people are able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives, there are only two objectives to be achieved:
(i) Uphold human rights (i.e. ensure equality under the law for women, minorities, LGBT, etc).
(ii) Safeguard natural resources (ie. ensure clean water, clean air, healthy soil, etc)
If these two objectives are achieved, all other objectives (reduction of poverty, reduction of maternal mortality, etc) will also be achieved.
For example, if women’s human right to equality (with men) is achieved, women’s health will improve, maternal mortality will drop, education of women will increase, women’s participation in the economy will increase, etc.
Likewise, if the resources on which human lives depend are safeguarded (through preventing water, air and soil pollution, ending dependence on polluting fossil fuels, farming without using polluting pesticides and other chemicals, etc) human health will improve and people will have the resources they need to grow safe and nutritious food.
Challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security:
Challenges: Climate change is a key challenge – it will destroy many countries and make it impossible for many people to grow food. Instead of focusing on “climate change mitigation”, nations should focus on stopping climate change. To do this they need to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, right now. This switch will be challenging as there are powerful corporations who will oppose this change (because they will lose money) but if the ultimate goal is to improve the well-being of all people on the planet, these corporations must be opposed.
Opportunities: There have been great improvements in human understanding of our planet’s climate, ecosystems and soil and it has been proven that organic, labour-intensive and sustainable farming systems produce high yields with low pollution. Such systems use only the locally-available inputs, they do not rely on imported inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, etc). People benefit from such systems by not having to spend money to buy inputs (therefore avoiding debt) and by having a healthy and productive life. This will not make people “rich” but neither will “conventional agriculture” which usually results in people becoming indebted, the soil being destroyed, waterways depleted and polluted, and much misery for the people involved (who then move to the cities where they suffer even further).
What works best? Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on.
Provide us with your own experiences and insights. For example, how important are questions of improved governance, rights-based approaches, accountability and political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security?
Furthermore, how could we best draw upon current initiatives, including the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (www.zerohungerchallenge.org), and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?
Improved governance and rights-based approaches are essential in achieving food and nutrition security. Accountability and political commitment are vital in achieving improved governance and ensuring that approaches are rights-based.
The Zero Hunger Challenge is an excellent initiative as it focuses both on human rights (access to food) and safeguarding natural resources (food systems must be sustainable and there should be zero waste of food).
The Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition is not useful as it still focuses on “economic growth” and “investment by stakeholders” rather than on upholding human rights and safeguarding natural resources. The core values of this strategic framework are not in line with the ultimate goal: that all people should be able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives.
For the Post-2015 Global Development Framework to be complete, global (and regional or national) objectives, targets and indicators will be identified towards tackling hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. A set of objectives has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC):
a. 100% access to adequate food all year round
b. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old
c. All food systems are sustainable
d. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
e. Zero loss or waste of food.
Please provide us with your feedback on the above list of objectives – or provide your own proposals. Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global? Should the objectives be time-bound?
The Zero Hunger Challenge objectives that I think are the most useful in terms of achieving the ultimate goal (“all people should be able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives”) are:
a. 100% access to adequate and nutritious food all year round
c. All food systems are sustainable
e. Zero loss or waste of food.
The other two “objectives” are just indicators of whether the above three objectives have been achieved or not.
These two “objectives” will be achieved if the three other objectives are achieved:
b. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old
d. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
For “objective” d, I would remove the words “and income”. The focus should NOT be on increasing income or wealth. The focus should be on improving peoples’ quality of life. An increase in productivity can represent an increase in quality of life (greater reward for the same work) but an increase in income does not necessarily represent an increase in quality of life, as income increase is often accompanied by an increase in debt.
Apart from the three objectives I listed above, nations should also strive to achieve the following objectives:
i. Equality in the law for women and men
ii. Zero discrimination against women, minorities and LGBT (in accordance with internationally-agreed norms of what constitutes “discrimination”)
iii. 100% protection of water, air and soil resources (in accordance with internationally-agreed standards)
Thus, there would be six objectives in total:
I. 100% access to adequate and nutritious food all year round
II. All food systems are sustainable
III. Zero loss or waste of food
IV. Equality in the law for women and men (equal rights, equal pay, equal access to education)
V. Zero discrimination against women, minorities and LGBT (in accordance with internationally-agreed norms of what constitutes “discrimination”)
VI. 100% protection of water, air and soil resources (in accordance with internationally-agreed standards)
All objectives should be global and all nations should aim to achieve them within 10 years.
Urbanization is, with climate change, among the greatest challenges of the XXIst century. Today, already more than 50 % of the population lives in urban areas. By 2050, urban dwellers will make about 70 % of the 9 billion people. All the increase of population will in fact take place in cities, in Asia and Africa. There has been many examples in the recent years - from the food riots in 2008-2009 to the Arab Spring - that food insecurity in cities can lead to civil unrest or conflicts. Development goals regarding food and nutrition security have to consider explicitly the urban areas.
Because poverty is measured mainly through money, the MDGs may have been partially blind on food and nutrition security for the urban dwellers. Indeed, in a specific country, 1$ often does not have the same value in a rural area or in a city. Besides, in a rural area, there are often still a lot of non-monetary economy (in low but also in high income countries) while a city is mainly a market place. Moreover, in a city, you have to pay for housing (even in informal housing and slums), transportation, health and education, even before thinking about food. More comprehensive indicators need to be designed to better measure poverty in urban settings.
Among the challenges, we can then suggest:
Local authorities need to be involved in and committed for food and nutrition security for the realization of the right to food. Local authorities should be fully engaged in the governance process, in relations with the National Government. We may seriously consider promoting local food councils as an effective and most progressive way to get all stakeholders together at sub-national level. At municipal level, accountability of the mayors is linked to a close and daily contact with the population.
The “Zero Hunger Challenge” offers a great opportunity as it implicitly include cities:
The first version of the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/026/ME498E.pdf) identifies, among the “issues that may require further attention” (page 36), the “ways to boost rural development to strengthen food security and nutrition in the context of rural‐urban migration”. It is indeed a priority.
The Post-2015 Global Development Framework, objectives, targets and indicators should also be at the local level.
To make the Zero Hunger Challenge more operational, the objectives should be time-bound, with intermediate goals, standing somewhere between 0 and 100%.
The linkages between food and nutrition security and agriculture with the management of natural resources should be more directly reflected in the development goals to further promote sustainable diets.
1. Link farming with global Greenhouse Gases cuts targets. This is not easy, but must be a priority. We now have "severe weather" as a normal in the Earth's, but we have time to mitigate global warning.
To make these objective work the world need actions such as:
a. Stop deforestation because of crop and cattle expansion. We can protect the forests and feed the people at the same. The only think needed is searching best practices such as community grown farms, payments for protecting forests, and a best soil management (if we do not overuse the soil it can be used more time, so no farm expansion needed).
b. Change the actual farming system. Finding alternatives to burning (that is one of the most used system in the world) would help the world to cut CH4 and CO2 emmissions.
c. The establishment of a good local farming system is a good step to make stop the dependency on imported products... and our adicction to fossil fuels.
d. STOP ALL bio fuels that comes from crops. Bio fuels are a good alternative to fossil fuels if they come from wastes, but the ones that are from, for example, corn farms causes many GHG emissions... and are a threat to food security. We need the corn and the soy to eat. Food security is more important that fueling our vehicles.
It is urgent to governments to stop promoting bio fuels (and an international veto would be good).
2. Promote family and community-managed agriculture as a priority over large scale and corporative farming. The Earth has enough natural resources for a future with a very good food security. What we need is that these resources be managed accuratelly in the present... and the future. When agriculture lands is in hands of the communities (villages, town, cities, ect) its more easy to make them sustainable.
3. Creating policies that control food wasting is a must.
4. For a best future, we need to develop urban farming. Growing food products in cities is good practice. Most cities have spaces that would able (or are being used) to farm. Terraces, gardens, etc.
All objectives must be in a global scale, because hunger and food security are an international problem, not only of a few countries.
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very important discussion. Much has already been said by other contributors that I have found interesting and often quite compelling. As someone who works in an organization dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger, with particular focus on smallholder agriculture, I was particularly impressed, most recently, with the comprehensive contribution made by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development in the UK Parliament. Without wishing to restate points already stressed by other commentators, I would just like to share the following few thoughts, in the order of the three themes on which inputs have been solicited.
Theme 1: in my opinion, one important lesson from the pursuit of the MDGs is that working towards food and nutrition security is, I would say, the quintessential cross-sectoral (possibly even “all-sectoral”) issue, which is very much affected by what is done (or not done) in areas too often discussed without a “food security lens”. This includes, for instance, economic growth, employment and decent work, investment, energy, water, education, governance, and so forth…. In discussing a framework to replace the MDGs, it is very important not to discuss food and nutrition security as a theme that can be addressed in any sort of isolation from the other themes currently being discussed. More than any other theme (except for poverty, to which it is of course closely linked), food and nutrition security needs to be “mainstreamed” into all other discussions, in order to come up with meaningful pathways and targets on all relevant fronts. This means, of course, also that there needs to be an open “dialogue” between this particular consultation and other thematic, regional, and national consultations on the post-2015 and sustainable development agendas. As an earlier contribution to this e-consultation stated, silo discussions are very much to be avoided in this context. Also important to take home from the MDG experience is the need to focus more attention and resources on rural areas, rural-urban inequalities – in incomes, in nutritional status, as well as in access to clean water, electricity, infrastructure, education and health services, etc, rural data and indicators, and so forth. Rural development and overcoming rural-urban inequalities are central to boosting food security, but these issues were not much in focus in the first MDGs, and they are not yet emerging significantly in the post-2015 discussion. Conversely, reducing these inequalities and fully integrating rural areas into more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive patterns of growth are preconditions for achieving sustainable food and nutrition security for all.
Also concerning theme 1, I would say that, besides obvious issues such as growing investment in agriculture, more policy attention to food security, ongoing technological developments, and so forth, one key challenge (but also opportunity) for achieving global food and nutrition security has to do precisely with the transformation of rural areas and how rural-urban dynamics evolve. On the challenge side of this we can place the increasing deterioration of the natural resource base in many rural areas, the impact of climate change (which may redesign very significantly the geography of entire areas of critical importance for global food production and/or for the struggle against hunger), the ageing of rural and agricultural populations in several parts of the world and the high proportion of young people in other parts, rapid urbanization coupled with slow growth of urban economies and governance and service networks, and so forth. On the opportunity side, we have the growing integration of rural and urban economies linked to diffuse small-scale urbanization, integrated territorial development experiences, migration and remittance flows, the emergence or popularization of new technologies and opportunities for decentralized rural energy supply, information and communication networks, and so forth. And of course, the change in agricultural and rural markets and value chains, at country, regional, and global levels, represents both an opportunity and a challenge. So if I were to name one major area where work is needed to ensure future food and nutrition security, I would say changing the face of rural areas around the world, to turn them into hubs of inclusive and sustainable growth, with plenty of decent employment opportunities – many of them linked to agriculture in its broadest sense, areas where today’s rural youth want to and are proud to live, and where they can fulfil their aspirations in terms not only of food security but of overall quality of life.
Concerning theme 2, many other contributors have highlighted key success factors, from genuine political commitment and broad-based ownership to partnerships, accountability, human rights- approaches, cross-sectoral approaches (notably around nutrition), and yet other. Here I would just like to offer three points. First, I am not convinced that there is a “best” approach to the challenges of food and nutrition security. There are many good practices, but no blueprints, and this is particularly important to remember as we increasingly strive for positive impact “at scale”. As a result, it is critical to encourage and cultivate space for innovation, learning (and knowledge sharing), and systematic approaches to scaling up success, for progress to be sustained. This sort of space should be cultivated both within and across countries in my view. Second, it is important to work on the transformation of food systems in a holistic manner, simultaneously aiming for greater sustainability, productivity, and capacity to generate inclusive (and indeed pro-poor) economic and social benefits. Recent experience shows that this transformation is possible, provided that the key stakeholders (including rural communities and farmers) have the incentives to change (i.e. appropriate pricing, rewards for positive environmental externalities, market opportunities, etc.) and the tools to mitigate and better manage risks. Third, and final, among the many things that have proved effective to improve food security and nutrition, women’s empowerment and gender equality – in terms of access to productive resources, rights of tenure and use over land (and water), education, citizenship, and so forth – deserves singling out for greater emphasis and concrete attention. In this regard, perhaps it would be appropriate to consider gender-equal access and rights over land as a worthwhile global target for food security.
Coming now to theme 3, the Zero Hunger Challenge offers no doubt an ambitious and inspiring set of goals, which constitutes a vision towards which different context-specific objectives (certainly including time-bound objectives) can be developed. The one element of the agenda that could perhaps be strengthened in its ambition and also better harmonized with the other elements concerns the doubling of smallholder productivity and incomes. In this regard, I would offer the following observations. First, doubling smallholder productivity is not quite the same as doubling incomes – in fact, the relationship between increase in smallholder incomes and increase in their (agricultural) productivity may be complex and not at all straightforward. Second, in some contexts a doubling of smallholder productivity (however defined) may be an overambitious goal, while in others it is possible and appropriate to be more ambitious than this. As a result, it may be best to refrain from defining such a quantitative target for smallholder productivity growth a priori and with universal value. Third, decisions concerning productivity growth are to be made by the stakeholders directly concerned – first and foremost smallholders and other investors in agriculture – as they result from their investment decisions, which are in turn shaped by many factors. Fourth, many smallholders derive their incomes from a mix of sources, including but not limited to agriculture. An increase in the incomes may not represent an increase of income from agriculture, and this should also be acknowledged in some way. Fifth, for the many smallholder farmers who live below one or the other poverty lines, a doubling of income may be a rather modest goal, not quite on a par with the other elements of the Challenge, which are quite bold and inspiring. Finally, smallholder agriculture is the predominant form of agriculture globally, and therefore a key pillar of food systems. This means that it is also at the core of any efforts to achieve “100% access to adequate food all year round”, “all food systems are sustainable”, “zero loss or waste of food”… Etc.
So, what may be a concrete suggestion to address all these points? My suggestion is two-fold:
1) Explicitly position smallholder agriculture in the other elements of the Challenge
2) Revise the specific element on smallholder agriculture in a more ambitious manner – perhaps along the lines of “zero smallholder farmers live in poverty or food insecurity”
Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment!
Bettina Prato, Ph.D
Office of the Chief Development Strategist
Poucas palavras = boa vontade
I am a Master's degree student in agricultural & resource economics, and I have been doing my field research on the impact of climate change on crop loss, regional food prices, and familiar impacts in marginal environments located at high altitudes in rural Guatemala. I stongly feel it would be a terrible mistake to not consider climate change impact in any discussion of regional or national or world food security. Crop losses, increased pestilence, changes in yields, loss of soil fertility, loss of arable land, and rising food prices have significant effects on ability to grow and/or purchase food. Our group believes that regional market empowerment is necessary to provide the flexibility in adaptive practices required to reduce risk of climate change impact; but trade policies, monopolies, and genetic rights laws that favor use of imported seeds and varieties have been a key stumbling block in this endeavor.
I would be happy to discuss my findings more. It should be noted that the region we work in has one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world.
1. Fortalecer la agricultura, es la base de la disponibilidad de alimento fresco y saludable para todos. Instruir a la gente, sobre todo de comunidades pequeñas en formas de agricultura sustentable y conservación natural de alimentos.
2. Prohibir definitivamente aditivos dañinos para la salud en el procesamiento de los alimentos, desde su cultivo hasta su envasado.
3. Crear una red global de pesquisa y transporte de alimentos, desde donde se sobre-produce hasta donde escasea, con la voluntad de países y empresarios, para que en el mundo no se siga desechando alimento mientras otras personas mueren de hambre.
Poverty and hunger are deep rooted in most of African countries triggered by economic, social, and political factors. I believe that a region and country specific targets might help in achieving the targets. I do appreciate and stand for all the goals set by FAO to end hunger and poverty.
For further information, or if you wish to receive oral evidence from the APPG’s Chair - Lord Cameron of Dillington - please contact the Group’s Coordinator, Dominic Foster email@example.com
All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (2010) “Why No Thought for Food?” A UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Global Food Security http://www.agricultureandfoodfordevelopment.org/Growing%20Out%20of%20Poverty%20-%20APPG%20AF4D%20Inquiry%20Report.pdf
All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (2011) “Growing Out of Poverty” A UK Parliamentary Inquiry into supporting and developing African agriculture http://www.agricultureandfoodfordevelopment.org/Why%20No%20Food%20for%20Thought%20-%20A%20Parliamentary%20Inquiry.pdf
Aryeetey, E. (2012) “Towards a New Post-2015 Development Agenda” http://www.unicef-irc.org/research-watch/Post-2015--What-Next-/907/
Pollard A., Sumner A., Polato-Lopes M. and de Mauroy A. (2011) 100 Voices – Southern perspectives on what should come after the Millennium Development Goals, London: CAFOD and Brighton: IDS.
Vandemoortele, J. (2012) “Advancing the UN development agenda post-2015: some practical suggestions.” Report submitted to the UN Task Force regarding the post-2015 framework for development
Witcombe,J.R., Devkota, K.P. and Joshi, K.D. (2010). Linking community-based seed producers to markets for a sustainable seed supply system. Experimental Agriculture, 46, pp 425-437
The World Bank (2008) World Development Report: Agriculture for Development. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDR2008/Resources/WDR_00_book.pdf
Yamin A.E. (2012) Post MDGs: what next for a global development agenda that takes human rights seriously? http://www.unicef-irc.org/article/899/
Please see the attached description of the new Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture & Nutriation Security, whose planned areas of work are highly relevant to both Themes 1 and 3.
I would be happy to provide additional information on current CIMSANS activities, including a round-table on "modeling of sustainable nutrition security," which will be held in Dublin on 10 April 2013, immediately preceding food security meetings planned by CGIAR and the EU, also to be held in Dublin. We also hosted a round-table at FAO in October 2012, and I gave a presentation on certain aspects of this topic at Doha last month.
Thanks - Dave
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)