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

Peter Schmitd HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, Switzerland
10-01-2013

Thanks for providing the opportunity to contribute to this consultation. Please find below some thoughts related to theme 3.

 

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is one of the oldest and largest Swiss development NGOs presently engaged in 32 countries. The main primary stakeholders of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation are rural poor in developing countries, hence those people most affected by food insecurity. In several of our projects, the improvement of food security in rural areas is an explicit and inherent part of the intervention strategy. Moreover, the majority of projects have direct or indirect implications on the food security situation of rural livelihoods. Therefore the topic of food security has always been and will continue to be a fundamental topic for the organisation both at the level of project implementation and advocacy work.

 

We are thankful to FAO and its partners for launching this discussion about a post 2015 development agenda related to hunger, food and nutrition security. The wealth of contributions to this discussion provides a substantial input to develop a “Post-2015 Development Agenda and Framework”. We would like to contribute few thoughts on theme three, namely the set of objectives that has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under the 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.

 

We would like to congratulate the UN Secretary General for this initiative and the importance given to the theme of hunger and nutrition. We are impressed by the clarity of the message and its comprehensiveness in a very condensed form.

However, if the Zero Hunger Challenge shall serve as a starting point for the formulation of a post 2015 development framework we believe that certain aspects deserve more precise definition or additional attention.

 

1. General observation: “The right to food” should form the basis for a future development agenda in this theme. It therefore deserves to be mentioned and referred to explicitly. Even if the goal is “Zero Hunger” we believe that in order to reach this goal it needs particular attention and affirmative action directed at the most disadvantaged. Often women are among the most disadvantaged. It is not enough just to list them (as done in “100% increase in small holder productivity”). The disadvantaged groups need to be identified in each particular context and specifically targeted interventions need to be designed and undertaken. The focus on food and nutrition excludes the problem of loss and degradation of natural resources and the competition for fertile land and water by non-food crops, in particular for agro-fuel.

 

2. 100% access to adequate food all year round. The FAO food security concept rightly builds on the four pillars “availability, access, utilisation and stability”. It seems to us that aspects of “food utilisation” are in the “Zero Hunger Challenge” somewhat concentrated in the thrust “Zero stunted children less than 2 years old.” Particularly the access to save drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has to go side by side with the access to food for all other population groups, too.

 

3. All food systems are sustainable We highly appreciate the importance given to sustainability. We however expect a stiff debate on what is called “sustainable”. We would like to stress the equal importance of the three dimensions (social, ecological and economic) of sustainability. Minimal requirements for a sustainable agriculture could be further defined, e.g. using the principles of LEISA (Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture) or organic agriculture.

 

The aspect of energy consumption in food production is worth to be actively addressed, too.

 

Similarly we support the mentioning of “responsible governance of land, fisheries and forests” but fear that there will be divergent definitions of what is called “responsible”.

 

4. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income The mentioning of “improving land tenure” is in our view a too weak formulation. Smallholder productivity will only increase if farmers can rely on secure and legally protected property rights in the long run and have access to other productive resources and services. What is needed is a secured / legally protected access to productive resources (land, water, seeds, forests, bio-diversity, fisheries) and a secured access to assets (financial and non financial services, information, and knowledge).

 

5. Zero loss or waste of food We highly appreciate the inclusion of this aspect. Food losses, energy consumption and green house gas emissions increase with the transport of food. We therefore suggest to highlight here the promotion of short value chains to local and regional markets. Labelling alone is not sufficient.

 

Labels need to be trustworthy and therefore need to be supported by adequate certification schemes (e.g. participatory guarantee schemes).

 

We again would like to thank for the opportunity to contribute to this consultation.

 

Yours sincerely

 

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation

 

Peter Schmidt

Co-head Advisory Services

Zürich, January 9th, 2013