Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security


Theme 1:
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?

The Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders provided a pathway with clear objectives and indicators to track and monitor progress on poverty reduction. This has helped accountability, as world leaders have been constantly requested to account for their efforts to meet the MDGs targets., However, MDG 1 and its sub-targets have not been able to address the increased inequality, the lack of coordination at international and national level,  and the failure in the governance of the food system. As a result there are still unacceptable amount of undernourished people concentrated in developing countries along with an unsustainable food system. Thousands of hectares of land are under biofuel and animal feed production to meet the food and energy demand  of developed countries. Although the poverty reduction target is likely to be reached  , increased inequality continues in the global trend. This is, among others, due to the prevalence of only quantitative methods, which cannot capture the difference between the entitlement to rights, and the full enjoyment of those rights, as well as the accountability of states as duty bearers.

ActionAid believes that entrenched poverty, growing inequality and inadequate access to food and resources are the major barriers to achieving the right to food for all. Most people are not hungry due to lack of food availability instead they are too poor to access the available food . Ensuring greater access to food – the ability to produce or purchase food – highlights the central role of poverty reduction in the fight against hunger and depravation.

An holistic approach is needed to address the root causes of  food insecurity.  Reducing hunger and malnutrition starts with much fairer access to resources, employment and incomes in rural areas. Agriculture, especially smallholder and family farms, can play a key and catalytic role in the improvement of rural livelihoods. Many of these smallholders are women, who face additional constraints compared with men due to discrimination, cultural factors and unequal access to productive resources. Only bold actions and sustained efforts to democratize and rebuild food systems will ensure increased access to food and feed the future generations, fairly, sustainably and equitably along with preserved natural resources, forests, and enhanced biodiversity.

Reducing chronic food waste, tackling over-consumption and the diversion of enormous quantities of grains for animal feed and biofuels away from human consumption is absolutely essential. Nevertheless this must be coupled with support for women and men smallholder farmers and producers to  a paradigm shift towards climate-resilient ecological agriculture to confront the challenges of poverty, hunger and climate change.  

Any new framework beyond 2015 - to address food insecurity and malnutrition - should be based clearly on the following factors, which were largely missing in the MDG 1 on food security and hunger:

•    Right to food. The Right to Food approach empowers the rights holders – food insecure and malnourished people - and holds the duty bearers accountable on food security and malnutrition. The post 2015 framework should stipulate governments to enact and implement the Right to Food legislative framework in the countries.   
•    Women’s access and control over natural resources is key to achieve food security. Many studies show that women control over land result in increased food production and food security.  An ActionAid forthcoming research is collating evidence to showcase how women’s secure access to land contribute to their empowerment and the enjoyment of other rights.  

•    Importance of investments in agriculture: greater and responsible investment in agriculture is essential for food security and poverty reduction in poor countries. In achieving food security for all, the level of public spending into agriculture should be monitored within the overall ODA commitment and other regional agreed targets. National policies should promote greater investment for smallholder sustainable agriculture. Besides, the investments made by smallholder farmers deserve respect and recognition as private investment.  

•    Increased local production and access to natural resources. ActionAid field surveys  revealed that that communities with sufficient food production were better placed to face the food crisis while the households with land entitlement were better off during the food crisis. The post 2015 framework should include the country’s implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on land tenure to provide secure access to land, fisheries and forests as a mean towards the full realization of the right to adequate food.

What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?


The following issues, which will continue to exert a major impact on food security and nutrition, should be factored in the post 2015:

Food price rise due to the declines in stocks to use ratios of some of most heavily consumed grains, long-term decline in investment in agriculture, diminishing productivity growth from green revolution technologies such as hybrid seeds, climate-induced supply shortfalls, specifically the increased incidence of droughts and floods, depleted soils and water tables resulting from unsustainable production, explosive growth in demand triggered by the expansion of biofuels, increased oil and fertilizer prices, speculation in oil and food commodity futures markets and unabated trade liberalisation. Volatile food prices destabilize food producers and consumers, and make impossible for farmers to make well-informed investment choices.

Increased impact of climate change - in the form of drought, floods, hurricanes, erratic rains, biofuel, land grabs, and food waste etc - is a growing challenge for food security. Post 2015 strategies should include climate related concerns and building resilience of communities against climate shocks, investment in sustainable models of production, including climate resilient sustainable agriculture.


The food crisis has driven the attention back to the importance of investing in more sustainable agriculture. It has also made clear the failure of the food system governance and the huge bill that developing countries had to pay for lack of coordination. The reformed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has attempted to respond to the crisis by building a new food governance system with the right to food at the centre of any food security strategy. Putting together UN Agencies, Donors, Governments, private sector, civil society, IFI, and all the relevant stakeholders working on food security, the CFS provides the foremost food security platform to provide guidance and space for coordination, cooperation, consensus building, and continue learning process.

The result of this effort has been the development and the endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests, and the adoption of the Global Strategic Framework. Both the documents provide political and technical guidance on the way to manage national land tenure systems and national human rights-based strategy, with the overarching goal of supporting the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

All Governments should refer to these instruments when developing their national food security policies, and develop and/or strengthen mapping and monitoring mechanisms in order to better coordinate actions by different stakeholders and promote accountability.

The reformed CFS has committed to support countries in developing an innovative mechanism, including the definition of common indicators, to monitor progress towards food security. As stated by the GSF, objectives to be monitored should include nutritional outcomes, right to food indicators, agricultural sector performance, progress towards achievement of particularly MDG1, and regionally agreed targets. The CFS also committed to develop an innovative  mechanism to monitor the state of implementation of the Committee’s own decisions and recommendations, so as to allow for the reinforcement of the coordination and policy convergence roles of the CFS. This is to be considered the foremost opportunity to advance on the accountability agenda, and to provide “international voluntary agreements” with teeth to enable their effective implementation.

Another important opportunity is offered by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. (PGRFA), adopted by the Thirty-First Session of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on 3 November 2001. The Treaty recognizes the enormous contribution of farmers to the diversity of crops that feed the world, establishes a global system to provide farmers, plant breeders and scientists with access to plant genetic materials, and ensures that recipients share benefits they derive from the use of these genetic materials with the countries where they have been originated. Farmers’ rights are formally recognized and the Contracting Parties should take measures to protect and promote these rights.
The current attempt on further regulating seeds by using (and abusing) Intellectual Property Rights represents a threat for the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed, as well as to access and participate in benefit sharing. The Treaty calls for protecting the traditional knowledge of these farmers, increasing their participation in national decision-making processes and ensuring that they share the benefits from the use of these resources, and helps maximize the use and breeding of all crops (also the local-used not commercial crops) and promotes development and maintenance of diverse farming systems.
ActionAid and IFSN support local seed banks in order to help preserve local and traditional knowledge, seed diversity, and economic accessibility to good quality seeds for farmers .

Theme 2:
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?

The Human rights based approach and the importance of the political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security

ActionAid and IFSN strongly support the human rights based approach to poverty. Human rights approach as applied to food implies that food insecure and malnourished people are put at the centre of national food security strategies, and empowered by Governments in assessing their vulnerabilities and how to respond to them. States as duty bearers, should be accountable on food security and nutrition. States have been provided with tools such as the Voluntary Guidelines for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, and most recently the Global Strategic Framework, that provide guidance for developing effective institutional and adequate legal frameworks, establishing independent monitoring mechanisms, and implementing these frameworks to achieve the progressive realization of adequate food. Countries who have followed the prescriptions of the Guidelines have been able to progress on hunger reduction, but no indicator or target in the MDGs framework has been developed to monitor the implementation of these international instruments.
The successes in Brazil, India and Malawi provide guidance and inspiration . In these countries the role of Government in developing participatory food security strategies based on the right to food and with the active participation of several stakeholders in designing interventions proved to be a success in reducing the hunger in each country. States should commit to develop legal frameworks, rehash and development of appropriate institutions and policies with the participation of stakeholders. Analyzing successes in Brazil, India and Malawi highlight the following major lessons that can be replicated by other countries:

1. Government commitment and promotion of the Right to Food
2. Pressure from civil society to introduce and improve the programmes
3. Decentralized implementation and participation
4. Cost-effective programmes

Increased local production and access to natural resources as precondition for the realization of the right to food

Lessons learnt from the 2007/2008 food crisis includes that people resilience draw from increased production and greater access to natural resources. Communities with sufficient food production were better placed to face the food crisis while the households with land entitlement were better off during the food crisis.  To contrast, the latest wave of FDI are having devastating impacts on rural communities and their access to land.  Rural people who gain their livelihoods from land are dispossessed by foreign and national investors who take advantage of weak governance and legal loopholes in the national systems.  OECD estimated that 83% of farmland acquired is dedicated to the production of export crops..  Current investments are also looking for access to natural resources (land and water) and acquisition of land for biofuels production with little benefits for local people.  

Public investment have declined over the past 20 years: the share of public spending on agriculture in developing countries has fallen to 7%, even less in Africa. Donors ODA going to agriculture has fallen from around 10% to 5%.  Only recently major attention is given to the fact that small food producers undertake the bulk of investments and that 500 million small scale producers feed the world population. This encourages a shift from how to regulate international investments towards how to create the appropriate conditions to facilitate and support farmers own investments. In this regard, public policies are crucial to mobilize national spending in supporting of farmers investments. The following measures should be given adequate attention within the post 2015 framework:

-    Full implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in order to ensure and strengthen people’s secure access to land, fisheries and forests so as to progress on food security.
-    increase the level of public spending in the agricultural sector by setting an ambitious target for investments in agriculture. Efforts to build national systems to collect timely and disaggregated data by sex and age,.  
-    leverage investments in agriculture that deliver on food security while respecting human rights, protecting the environment and promoting women’s empowerment. Public policies should create the enabling conditions for farmers own investments and  promote public investments for public goods, including research and development.  

The role of women and the need of food policies targeting specifically women

Women play a critical role in agricultural production in developing countries, where they comprise , on an average, 43 percent of the agricultural labour force. .
ActionAid’s work in empowering women farmers and helping them gain control over resources and incomes has had significant positive impacts on raising agricultural productivity and improving household food security and nutrition.  

Hence keeping women at the centre of policy discussions regarding food security can deliver remarkable economic and social benefits.

Governments and other duty bearers should ensure policies and practices that facilitate women farmers for a better life and greater contribution in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. ActionAid experience   underscores the following measures be given adequate attention within the post 2015 framework :  

•    Women farmers’ participation in gender specific policies on food, hunger and agriculture
•    Access to and control over land
•    Access to financial services including social transfers
•    Gender appropriate farming inputs
•    Access to clean water
•    Appropriate extension services and trainings
•    Appropriate research and technological development
•    Appropriate marketing facilities

In practice, targets and indicators should empower women to participate equally, whilst ensuring specific needs of women are also met, eg in terms of land rights. Targets and indicators need to be supported by sex disagreggated data and data use.  Progress here would be supported/complemented/driven by a stand alone gender equality goal, ensuring specific focus on tackling broader causes of inequality, such as violence against women and girls.

The promotion of climate resilient sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology

The fact that still 870 million people suffer from hunger, and the majority of them live in rural areas and are women, confirmed that a complete shift is needed towards a model of agriculture that deliver on food security while protecting the environment and promoting women’s empowerment.

After the 2007/2008 food crisis, World Bank  affirmed that agricultural investment was the most appropriate and effective strategy for poverty reduction in rural area, where the majority of poorest people live. Unfortunately, the World Bank proposed solutions were drawn from the Green Revolution prescriptions without taking into any account the lessons learnt. The social and ecological costs of the Asian Green Revolution are visible to everyone, with loss of biodiversity, soil depletion and land degradation, water pollution, concentration of land and rising social inequality, and the replacement of locally-used crops with cash crops for export.

The other dominating assumption that free trade would have provided food for all ensuring global supply also failed, as the 2007/2008 food crisis showed how unequal market power has benefited traders while developing countries have seen their food bill hugely go up.

IAASTD report stated that business as  usual is no longer a solution and we need to promote a more sustainable model of production, hence the need to invest in agro-ecology.

ActionAid believe that states should commit to change their policies, investment and practices in favor of agro-ecology. ActionAid experiences and reports underscore the potential of agro-ecology to improve food production, improved income, and climate change adaptation . The important lesson we draw from the 2007 and most recent food crisis is that developing countries cannot rely on a few number of commodity traders for their food security, but should build their food security on localized diverse food security systems, with the use of buffer stocks and food reserves to stabilize prices and guarantee food supply in case of shocks or climate related events.

The  “productivity” narrative focusing only on increasing productivity to feed 9 billion people in 2050 should be challenged by the fact that world produce enough food to feed everyone. Solution lays in the reform of the food system which should provide everyone with the means to access food. Agroecology proved effective not only to increase productivity, but also in its capacity  to meet the multiple challenges of climate change, hunger reduction, building resilience, empowerment of women small holder farmers     .

The post 2015 framework should look at:

•    support for small scale farmers and peasants and producer groups in their ecological approaches
•    support for diversified food systems that build on local and traditional knowledge
•    support for participatory research and plant breeding that combines indigenous and traditional knowledge with science and modern technology
•    programmes to phase out input subsidies schemes  for agro-chemicals in favor of subsidies to promote ecological agriculture.
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 (, and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?
The Zero Hunger Challenge initiative launched by the UN Secretary General announced very ambitious objectives including the 100% access to adequate food at all times, strong reference to the enjoyment of the right to food and the  diversified food systems. This is an excellent contribution to the post 2015 framework, which should be complemented with adequate policies as highlighted by the Global Strategic Framework.

The GSF  should be considered as the most comprehensive basis to build the new framework for the post 2015.
The new framework should also build on the reformed CFS as the foremost food security platform for coordination and coherence, as well as the model of governance to promote at regional and national level. All the stakeholders should be involved in the formulation of human-rights based food security strategies, with the active and full participation of those most affected by food insecurity. Ultimately, increasing efforts are needed to develop monitoring mechanisms in order to better coordinate actions by different stakeholders and promote accountability.

Theme 3:
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.

For the post 2015 framework, ActionAid and IFSN support a food and nutrition security goal which point at zero hunger .
The development of specific targets can start from here, and ActionAid and IFSN recommend the following to be included. All the actions needed to create or further improve systems that enable the data collection to measure the progress.
A specific target on the right to food, monitoring progress in incorporating the right to food into national constitutions. Specific ad hoc indicators, used by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, should be included in the set of targets related to measuring the progress on the right to food.
A specific target on women’s secure access to land (measuring access and control over land by women), built on the findings of the SOFA 2011 and the recently adopted VGs on land tenure. Women’s access and control over land should be differentiated as a separate target. Women’s access to land should be constantly measured as target towards the full realization of the right to food.  
A specific target on investment in agro-ecology. An ambitious target for investments in agriculture within the ODA 7% commitment and other regionally agreed targets - such as Maputo declaration of 10% of national budget - should be introduced. A minimum percentage of local sourced food production (based on local production capacity) should be introduced by country. This would boost agricultural local production, ensure country self-sufficiency, prevent dependency on international market for food provision.

A specific target on accountability, tracking countries which fully endorse, domesticate, implement the relevant agreements on food security and nutrition, namely the VGs for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food, the VGs on responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests, the  recently adopted Global Strategic Framework,  and the FAO Rome Principles.